HALL OF FAME
On Saturday, 20th October 2012, six legends were inducted into the first-ever class of Merthyr Town Football Club's Hall of Fame.
These recipients were commemorated and remembered for their unbridled passion, dedication and contribution to football and more specifically, their links to the historic club of Merthyr, with inductees spanning all of it's variations. These Merthyr Legends were cherished and celebrated by their peers, their fans and those whom they have paved the way for.
In time, more players and managers of yesteryear will join the inaugural entrants of the Class of 2012. Until that time, take a look back at the historic careers of each of these great men and understand a little more just what it takes to be a Hall of Famer.
Gordon's goalscoring capabilities attracted the attention of other clubs. In November 1984, Chelsea made an of £90,000, plus a further £35,000 after 35 1st team appearances, which was accepted. Gordon made 13 appearances and scored six goals but was then omitted from the team.
The following year, in October 1985, Manchester City had a bit for him accepted and so, he returned to the club that had released in over ten years previously while he was an apprentice. Figures from £70,000 to £100,000 have been mentioned in relation to his transfer fee. It was an inspired reunion, as in his second game (against Leeds), he scored a hatrick. He would score nine goals in 31 appearances for City, with one of his goals being nominated for Match of the Day Goal of the Season, but it was eventually won by Bryan Robson.
Gordon's second spell at Fulham lasted five years, when he returned in November 1986 for a fee of £50,000. By the end of his second run he had become their record goalscorer, surpassing the legendary Johnny Haynes total of 157 goals, with an impressive 159 goals from 394 appearances. His teammates fondly nicknamed him Ivor the Engine for his athleticism.
He was given a testimonial game against a Wales XI at the conclusion of his career with Fulham in 1991. Now aged 36 years of age, Gordon played for Wrexham for a season, making 22 appearances and scoring four goals for the North Wales club. Another year at Northwich Victoria brought his illustrious playing career to an end in 1993.
On match days, Gordon Davies can still be found at Fulham, where he currently works in a Public Relations Role.
Albert Lindon (seen here on the far right in the suit) is a figure that transcends two football clubs and is paramount to the survival of professional football at Penydarren Park. He is no local. He was born in Kings Norton, near Birmingham, on 27th January 1891.
His first clubs were the imaginatively named Birmingham Fruiterers and Delta Metal Works. Albert was a goalkeeper. In 1910 he joined his local club Birmingham City where he made 7 appearances for the St. Andrews club in the 2nd division of the Football League.
The Blues had a disappointing season ending in 22nd place, and so Albert was on the move across the city to Villa Park where he managed one solitary game between the sticks for Aston Villa, albeit in the lofty climes of the First Division.
Albert, frustrated by the lack of games, went to Barnsley and then Coventry City to seek regular games. He made 29 appearances at Highfield Road before making the decision to head to South Wales.
On and off the field, Merthyr Tydfil's Ken Tucker has been Mr Football. From playing whilst a pupil in Twynyrodyn Junior School to his present position with The Football Association of Wales, he has had a major involvement in the sport throughout his life. In school he was a contemporary of the late actor, Philip Madoc.
Ken played for Merthyr Tydfil whilst still in his teens and then went to Aston Villa in 1954 until 1956, when he was sold to Cardiff City. At the time there were several players at Ninian Park who later went on to lace up their boots for the Martyrs. They included goalkeeper Graham Vearncombe, defender Johnny Williams, strikers Gerry Hitchens, Brian Jenkins and Neil O'Halloran and winger Brayley Reynolds. Also with City at the time was the legendary Trevor Ford, who starred for Wales. Also with The Bluebirds in that era were two footballers from Troedyrhiw, Dennis Callan and Islwyn Jones.
But they were tough times for The Bluebirds and they were relegated from the then Division One in 1956-57.
Ken, who played on the right wing, moved on to Shrewsbury in 1957, making nearly 50 first-team appearances and netting eight goals. The side gained promotion and three years ago Shrewsbury held a night of nostalgia, which Ken attended, to mark the 50th anniversary of their achievement.
Lyn Jones will be remembered as the manager of the golden generation for Merthyr Tydfil's football team. Brought to the club in April 1985, he was given the brief that he was there to 'improve team performances', something that nobody can argue that he achieved during his nearly six year stint in the South Wales club.
His first game with the club saw the team claim the South Wales Senior Cup, defeating Barry Town 3-1 in a two leg final. Although his inaugural season was a mixed bag, the second half to the season played out very well, with Merthyr finishing third, narrowly missing out on promotion.
One of his biggest signings during his tenure was that of Ceri Williams, who would have a successful career in his own right at Penydarren Park, and of whom Jones called an 'exceptional player'. He swooped in to sign Williams from Blaenrhondda, after seeing him impress against a Cardiff-based side.
It was under his management that the club won their first Welsh Cup in 36 years, when they took down Newport in 1987 at Ninian Park, in a match that also marked the 100th time that the cup had been contested in it's illustrious history. That season also marked the winning of the Southern League Merit Cup (presented to the team that had scored the most goals out of the three divisions), thanks in large part of Dai Webley, who scored 59 goals throughout all competitions.
During his career with the Martyrs, Chris Holvey (seen here on the far left) was employed as an electrician at Ebbw Vale steelworks. He was often known to end a working shift and go on a long mid-week journey to return home and travel directly to work. He was also required to work Continental shifts, often working from 10.00 pm on a Friday evening until 6.00 am on a Saturday morning before travelling away with the side only to return directly to work when the bus dropped him off back in Ebbw Vale on the Saturday evening. Chris overcame this burden with great credit and players just like him are the lifeline of non-league soccer.
Holvey, who was born in 1956, was a product of the Ebbw Vale Youth side, which had a strong tradition for grooming talented players. He had no formal soccer training during his Ebbw Vale Grammar School days. "I was forced to play rugby" he said, but one year Chris was able to compete in the Welsh Schools Under-13's competition representing Ebbw Vale. They beat Cardiff schools in the final, which had in its ranks the highly talented David Giles who went on to play for the Full Welsh International side. "I always enjoyed rubbing in that defeat with Gilo" said Chris in later years.
After a very brief spell with Welsh League side Ebbw Vale, which was the home town of the Holvey family, Chris was poached from the Welfare ground in 1976 (much to the displeasure of their chairman) never to return, spending the next 14 years at Penydarren Park.
Born in Bristol on 28th June 1923 and son to former Bristol City and Leeds United forward Tommy Howarth, it was inevitable ,that Syd would follow in his father’s footsteps to become a successful centre forward, most notably for Aston Villa, Swansea Town and of course, the Martyrs.
During his illustrious career, it must be said that winning the Southern League Title with Merthyr Tydfil FC twice (1947-48 and 1953-54) was probably his greatest honour during his time with the Martyrs and of course winning the Welsh FA cup.
Syd joined the RAF at the age of 17 and spent 5 years in the services during the majority of Second World War .He was stationed in South Africa, Malta and then Palestine.
Syd Howarth was worth his weight in gold to Merthyr as not only was £6500 paid by Aston Villa to acquire Syd’s services but he also secured additional funding as part of the deal which involved a friendly match that would be arranged at Penydarren Park.
He wouldn’t buy a programme to ensure that he was not influenced by the reputation of any of the opposing players. His father Tommy helped kick start his career by asking opposing crowd members “who was that brilliant Welsh number 6?” thereby ensuring all eyes were on his son. His grandson Joshua Evans continues his family's association with the club being a local referee and fan with a dual love for Merthyr and Cardiff City in that order.
Many remember him gracing the Penydarren Park pitch in the black and white kit of legend. But here he is pictured later in life for the younger generation to know he was not only a great player but a great fan too.
Where do you start with Andrew Beattie?
Andy was playing for Mangotsfield United when Lyn Jones brought him to Penydarren Park during the 1985/86 season.
He made his debut in January 1986 in the 2-0 win against Ebbw Vale at Penydarren Park in a Welsh Cup game.
You would describe Andy as an extremely combative midfield dynamo, whose vision allowed him the time and space to dictate the general pattern of play. He also had his critics on the terraces who failed to appreciate that very often you have to build play slowly across the park. Andy was able to dictate the pace of the game from midfield sensing when the tempo needed to be raised to strike at the heart of the opposition.
His most productive season in a Martyrs shirt soon followed in 1986/87 season as the Martyrs narrowly missed out on promotion, he appeared 63 times that season and scored 20 goals.
Andy had made his mark and was to be a prominent member of the Welsh Cup winning team and captained the side against Atalanta in the European Cup Winners Cup in 1987/88. At the end of that season he also led the team to the Southern League Midland Division title, playing 57 times and scoring 6 goals.
Moses Russell was born in Tredegar, in Monmouthshire and after leaving school he began work as a coal-miner. In his leisure time he played both association football and rugby as well as being a boxer and competent swimmer, once rescuing a drowning child from a river.
His first professional club was Ton Pentre, whom he joined in 1911 before transferring to Merthyr Town later that year. Whilst with Merthyr Town, Moses helped them win the South Wales & Monmouthshire FA Cup.
He made his debut for Wales playing at left half against Scotland on 2 March 1912. The first player to be capped by Wales whilst with Merthyr, there would only be one other in our history.
In the summer of 1912, Moses left South Wales to join Southport but with the club having financial problems, he returned to Merthyr Town on a free transfer in February 1913, rather than take a cut in his wages. Whilst with Merthyr Town, he gained his third "cap", against England on 16 March 1914.
As a result of a bout of rheumatic fever, Moses lost most of his hair; his bald head made him appear some years older than his true age. As a result, several clubs rejected him as a "veteran”.
In the summer of 1914, Moses signed for Plymouth Argyle for a club record fee of £400 but soon the opening of hostilities interrupted his career.
During the First World War, Moses served as a private in the mechanised transport section of the Army Service Corps, receiving the British War Medal and Victory Medal.
In the summer of 1930 he was transferred to Thames A.F.C. who had just been elected to the Third Division South, at the expense of his former club, Merthyr Town.
Aberfan born Dai joined The Martyrs in 1948 and made his senior debut for the club in the 3-2 victory over Dartford in October of that year.
Dai’s early appearances for the club were as an inside-forward. However, the following season the Board took the momentous decision, ironically for the home fixture against Dartford, to select him in the half-back line. Dai’s cultured performances in his new position allowed him to make the number 4 shirt his own and for the next five seasons he was a virtual fixture in the all-conquering Merthyr Tydfil side.
It wasn’t long before the quality of Dai’s play attracted the attention of Football League clubs. During one game at Penydarren Park Dai had been Merthyr’s star performer during the first-half. During the interval he was told that the Barnsley manager was in the grandstand monitoring his performance with a view to signing him. Dai quickly decided that he had no intention of moving to Barnsley and contrived to be as anonymous as possible for the remaining forty-five minutes. This decision proved to have the desired effect as the Barnsley manager did not pursue his interest in Dai any further, preferring to sign a then little-known Irishman named Danny Blanchflower instead of him!
Dai always considered it an honour to represent his home town club. As a result he felt defeats as badly as the supporters on the terraces. This was borne out when Dai’s mistake resulted in the winning goal for Llanelly in an F.A. Cup replay at Penydarren Park in 1950. After the game Dai was so upset about the fact that it was his error which had led to the Martyrs being eliminated from the competition that when he caught the bus back to his Aberfan home, he hid in the space under the stairs to avoid being recognised.