FANS GET BEHIND
Hundreds turn out to show their support for club in financial crisis
H UNDREDS of football fans turned out at a fundraising match to help a Welsh team in financial crisis. Earlier this month owners and fans of Merthyr Town FC held an emergency meeting after the club saw the majority of its players leave, multiple board resignations and a confirmation of financial issues.
It came hours after chairman Meurig Price and John Strand both resigned from the board with immediate effect.
The fan-owned plunged into crisis.
But yesterday football fans from across the Valleys came together to try to help keep the heart of the community beating.
The team took on Dorchester Town at Penydarren Park, where home crowds normally average around 500 for a league match.
It was hoped that number would double yesterday as the club urged people to “Pack the Park”.
And the plan seemed to work, as more than 900 people filled the stands with pride. The official gate, according to the club, was 923.
And every one of them was there because they cared.
Jason Scanlon, 32, has supported Merthyr since he was a little boy.
He said: “I was probably about six or seven when I started coming here. club seemed
“Then in 2010 I started to come back more regularly.
“It’s becoming more important then ever to support them.
“It’s important for people in the community, and it’s great to see that people have turned up today. They’ve got a great crowd here.”
Following the emergency meeting it was decided that the club would install a new interim board, which has already stepped in to oversee the running of the club, including the efforts to pay off an overdue tax bill believed to be in the region of £25,000.
Since then people from across Wales have joined forces to support the club via a JustGiving page.
There have even been donations from some famous faces.
Former Cardiff City defender Danny Gabbidon donated £1,000.
Hollywood star Michael Sheen offered a further £250 to the cause.
The page has already raised £18,000 for the team.
For some people going to watch teams like Merthyr play is about a lot more than supporting a bunch of local lads – it’s about keeping the spirit of football alive in the Welsh Valleys. Gerald James, 67, from Llantrisant to watch.
He goes between Cardiff City and Merthyr Town and attends the games he fancies most each week.
“I started coming here when I was in my late 20s,” he said.
“I like it here. It’s a good atmosphere.
“It’s absolutely important that people get behind this club. It’s not my community, but it’s still a community.
“Grass-roots football is important and it’s just exciting as international football.” travels
At the game, supporters filled fundraising buckets with coins, and Merthyr FC jerseys flew off shop shelves.
From the stands it was clear that the park was not just packed with footie lovers, but with Merthyr lovers who don’t want the club to lose hope.
Supporters filled the seats, the bar and the snack bars, and were also eager to donate money to the club.
A supporter of 40 years explained just how important it is to see so many people attend games like this.
Rob Evans, 49, said the club forms a huge part of the community and it would be awful to see the town lose it.
He now brings his son to watch the games just like his father used to bring him.
For some people the club holds a great sense of family history,
“Merthyr is a football town. We have a rugby club, but we’ve always been a football town,” Rob said.
“We’ve had three or four knocks before but the way the community has come together this time has been stronger than ever.
“It’s important to keep the club going.”
The game saw Merthyr draw 1-1 with Dorchester Town but that didn’t get people down.
People were happy to see the park full and the fundraising total climb.
Supporters left with big smiles on their faces, just knowing that so many people are behind the club at a time when it desperately needs a helping hand.
Merthyr Town FC players thank their fans after yesterday’s game