Merson in Caerau debut
CAERAU Football Club is set to hand a debut next Wednesday to former Arsenal and England star Paul Merson, writes Tony Poole.
In a move that has shocked the club football scene, the Riverboaters still have to receive international clearance to field the 49-year-old midfield ace, who picked up 21 England caps.
New Caerau secretary David Hooper is the man responsible for Merson possibly playing a first competitive match in five years.
It was during a Bridgend & District Football League dinner a few years ago in which Merson was guest speaker that Hooper got to know him.
Their friendship has blossomed and Merson often attends Dougfield Plumbers on Bridgend Trading Estate to sign autographs for customers.
But the Sky Sports pundit has decided to give football another go and is down to play at home to Pontyclun in Nathaniel Cars Welsh League Division Three next Wednesday night (7.30pm).
“Having last year got to know Paul Merson even better – through attending his stag night and wedding – I’ve found him to be a very genuine and down to earth person,” explained Caerau secretary David Hooper.
Merson played 327 times for Arsenal as an attacking midfield player from 1985 to 1997, scoring 78 goals, before taking in spells with Middlesbrough, Aston Villa, Portsmouth and Walsall.
His playing days ended in 2012 in non-league football with Tamworth – and he made a last appearance for Welshpool Town.
His final England cap came during the 1998 World Cup that saw host nation France lift the Jules Rimet Trophy.
Provided the paper work is completed in time, Caerau envisage a bumper crowd to see the shock reappearance of Merson.
Last Saturday, Caerau called off their game with Trethomas Bluebirds, owing to the wet state of the Riverboat.
And this Saturday they take a trip into the un- known heading to Bargoed to face for a first time league newcomers Neuadd Wen, who won promotion from the Gwent County League. in
Former Arsenal midfielder and England international Paul Merson is set to make a Caerau debut next week against Pontyclun