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.
It was in 1920 that Albert Lindon first entered Penydarren Park. Merthyr Town were inaugural members of the new Third Division of the Football League and Albert was one of the first signings for manager Harry Hadley for the Red & Greens. So it was on 28th August 1920 that Lindon played in goals at Merthyr's famous old ground as Crystal Palace were beaten 2-1 to notch Merthyr Town's first ever Football League victory. There were 16,927 fans there that day.
In 1924 the then-manager, Thomas Daniel Jones, resigned and on 1st August, Albert was appointed player-manager. His reward for accepting one of the most challenging jobs in the Football League? The princely sum of £1.00 per week on top of his playing contract.
His first season wasn't a success by any imagination. Merthyr Town finished bottom of Division 3 South with only 8 wins during a desperate season. Thankfully, Merthyr Town survived re-election and Albert was able to manage the team for a further two seasons which, with both club and town fighting economic decline, he managed to keep the club away from further re-election lottery.
All-in-all he made a record 250 appearances for Merthyr Town, scoring a rare goal in the process.
In 1927, second division Charlton Athletic swooped to sign Albert Lindon as player-manager. He had another disastrous start to his managerial career winning just one of his first eleven games and losing half of the remaining games of the season. Only the good form of the opening start of the season accounted for Chalrton's 11th place finish, which at the time, was their highest in their history.
One of main successes was the recruitment of Dai Astley that year for £100.00. Dai had scored 3 goals in 5 games for Merthyr Town. Albert showed he had a great eye for a player, as Dai Astley went on to score 27 goals in 96 appearances for the Addicks. The boy from the Valleys had to go to the Valley to start a career that culminated with Aston Villa and Wales. Albert Lindon's vision is central to that success.
The previous manager Sandy MacFarlane returned from Dundee FC in 1928 and Albert was appointed as Assistant Manager. He went on to play 34 times for Charlton Athletic and returned to the Manager's position in 1933 when MacFarlane resigned for a second time unfortunately a gloomy six months in charge resulted in Charlton's relegation from the second division.
Twelve years later Albert Lindon kickstarted the reformation of the new Merthyr Tydfil FC with a stirring speech at the first public meeting on 1st March 1945. The club appoints Jock McNeil to manage the fledgling professional enterprise at Penydarren Park but when he has to resign in 1947 due to his daughter's ill-health it was Albert that was appointed to continue Jock's good work and he didn't disappoint:
1948 - Merthyr win the Southern League Championship for the first time. Six points clear of Gillingham.
1949 - We win the Welsh Cup for the first time with a 2-0 victory over Swansea Town at Ninian Park in front of 7,000 travelling Merthyr supporters. It's from this match that Albert has an idea that the Welsh Cup winners should play the FA Cup winners, so Wolves visit Penydarren Park for a friendly in front of 13,400 fans.
However two weeks later Albert Lindon had resigned from Merthyr Town. His relationship with the Board was always prickly. His team carried on the good work and won the league that year on goal average from Colchester United.
Albert Lindon died in 1976.
Albert deserves to be the first inductee into the Merthyr Football Hall of Fame as his prowess covered two eras of football in Merthyr Tydfil; as a player and manager during the Football League years through to the formative and glory years of the post-war period. He was there during some of the toughest and most rewarding days at Penydarren Park.
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.
After his spell with the Shropshire-based club, Ken was transferred to Northampton, making 10 appearances and scoring three goals. Hereford United was his next club before he returned to Merthyr Tydfil, whose glory years were well behind them in the mid-1960s.
There was the time in 1963 when the big freeze meant no football for six weeks.Players had to train at the nearby, now derelict, YMCA. The first match after the weather let up saw Merthyr lose 2-1 at the Park in a friendly with Swansea Town. The gate was 420. Ken scored Merthyr's goal with one of the Swansea marksmen being Mike Hayes, who later signed for The Martyrs.
There was a relegation fight for Merthyr but on May 11 they beat Cambridge City 3-1 with Ken Tucker netting twice, both after throw-ins by the tough Frankie Collins. The attendance was 780.
But during Ken's return to his home-town club, The Martyrs enjoyed a brief resurgence when former Swansea Town defender the late Harry Griffiths took over as player-manager at Penydarren Park. Several former Football League players were signed up and encouraging early-season results saw the gates soar to more than 3,000. Vearncombe, Keith Fry, Brian Jenkins and former Newcastle star Reg Davies joined the club. Their FA Cup run saw them travel to Swindon Town but despite a brave display, they crashed 5-1.
Some of the signings even made their homes in Merthyr. But later, gates fell again and despite a money-making scheme under a commercial manager, there were cash problems when it was found a large debt was owed to a local firm which angered the directors when they found out.
When Ken Tucker hung his boots up, he had a spell as manager before a long stint as secretary when he was always available to update the local Press on club activities, even if coming home late after a Board meeting which often had to deal with many vital matters as Merthyr struggled for survival over many years in the latter 1960s and 1970s. Ken was kept busy with his full-time Civil Service job with the Social Security.
And for some of those years, the club relied on some local up and coming players.
Then in January 1972, Merthyr pulled off quite a coup with Swansea born John Charles, who had wowed fans in Italy, taking over as player manager. Maldwyn Davies, bingo hall manager, was club chairman at the time. And for a while, ambitious Maldwyn was also the manager of Merthyr even though he had never played football himself. Results, however, were not too impressive. And gates had slumped to as low as 196.
Someone new was needed to run the team. Ken has said since:"Maldwyn knew John Charles was available and so his signing was just a formality." Talks took place in Maldwyn Davies' house overlooking the ground.
Charles, who had just left Hereford, was taken on at £40 a week, a small amount to the Gentle Giant but a lot of money which represented a gamble for the club as Ken recalled at the time. The first game for Charles was against Barnet. The gate went up but Merthyr crashed and Charles failed to prevent the team being relegated that season.
And Ken was still with the club in the secretary's role when another revival came as John Reddy took over the club which saw Lyn Jones as manager spearhead the Martyrs to Welsh Cup success and the memorable European adventures with Italian side Atalanta, at a time when English clubs were banned from Cup games in Europe.
When Ken Tucker left Merthyr Tydfil FC he looked after lots of local clubs in his capacity as secretary of The Welsh League. Then it was on to play an important role in The Football Association of Wales which he is still continuing to do.
It is safe to assume that Ken Tucker will never blow the whistle on his life-long love for football, with his name going down in Merthyr Tydfil and Wales as a key man in the sport over many years and in many capacities.
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.
In maybe the career-defining moment of his managerial career for Merthyr, Lyn Jones was the man at the top for the historic confrontation against Atalanta in the European Cup Winners Cup. The now well-told story of Merthyr's epic 2-1 win over the Italian side was covered by every major sports and news network and signalled a well-deserved moment in the spotlight for the club.
Following their exit from the competition in the away game against Atalanta, he also presided over the club during their return to league action against Rushden, where even more history would be made as Merthyr trounced their opponents 11-0, thanks to Chris Williams' six goals.
His team also won big games against the Malta National Side, playing both at Penydarren Park and across the sea, with a 2-1 win and 0-1 win going in the books for the valleys side.
He also triumphed as a manager when Merthyr performed a remarkable turnaround in the league, that saw them rise from 17th position to the top of the league, three points clear of their nearest rivals, Dartford. With a run that saw Merthyr lose just 2 out of their next 25 games, the rise from 17th had been meteoric.
The turnaround would be complete when in front of 4,000 spectators at Penydarren Park, Merthyr beat Crawley 3-1 to become champions and move into the Vauxhall Conference.
His last days with Merthyr saw more strong and gutsy performances, with forays into Cup matches and even his management of the Welsh Non-League International Team. His final league game as manager of Merthyr was away against Barnet, where Merthyr capped off his managerial stint with a 3-2 win.
There is no doubt at all when you look at the facts, figures and testimonies that Lyn Jones' time at Merthyr was a valuable and pivotal move in the club's success story during the 1980s. In his own words, he stated: "I worked with a great bunch of lads at Penydarren Park, made a lot of friends and I can honestly say I feel very privileged to have been manager of Merthyr Tydfil".
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.
Chris made his debut for Merthyr in a 1-1 draw against Bedworth United at Penydarren Park in February 1976, entering Southern league football "like an express train emerging from a tunnel" according to the club historian David Watkins.
Memories of the Chris Holvey/Doug Rosser partnership during the successful FA Trophy run in 1978 still stand the test of time. It was a great disappointment to everyone that the side failed to reach Wembley that year. Although they eventually lost in a replay to Runcorn in the quarter-final, the mystery surrounding the 'disallowed' goal from Paul Caviel should have been enough to have won the game at the first attempt.
He had the privilege and honour to captain the Martyrs to victory in the 100th Welsh Cup Final, an achievement that he richly deserved and was one of the proudest moments of his career. Leading the side against Newport County with the reminder from the first game - a shining black eye - he said at the time "It was a battle, it was a war in the replay. Newport were frightened of us. We've had a good side at the Park for a number of seasons, but now we have the right balance. I'm only thirty and my ambition right now is to captain the side in Europe next season."
On 5th, December 1989 Steve Harrison, then manager of Watford, brought a near full strength side to Penydarren Park to play a testimonial match in recognition of his loyal service to the Martyrs, that included over six hundred appearances. In a fiercely contested game Ceri Williams was brought down in the penalty area in the 48th minute by the former Liverpool, Aston Villa and England goalkeeper David James. Up stepped Chris for his moment of glory, sending James the wrong way with his spot kick but he watched in horror as the ball struck the upright and re-bounded to safety. Without a guaranteed first team place as Phil Evans and Roger Mullins joined the club, Chris decided to inform Lyn Jones that he would be leaving after over a decade of fantastic service to the Martyrs cause.
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.
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.
This incident proved to be one of the few lows Dai experienced at Penydarren Park as the all-conquering Martyrs swept to four Southern League titles in the space of five seasons. As someone who was so used to success it is perhaps not surprising that Dai’s favourite game in a Merthyr shirt was the Welsh Cup Final Replay against Cardiff City at the Vetch where he scored one of the goals in the 3-2 victory over the Bluebirds.
Despite still being recognised as one of the stars of the side, Dai became the first retained player to be transferred by The Martyrs after failing to agree terms, when he was sold, against his wishes, to Hereford United for a small fee in September 1955, an action which resulted in him missing out on what would have been a richly deserved benefit match.
After the close camaraderie he enjoyed at Penydarren Park it was not surprising that Dai found it difficult to settle at his new club. Consequently in July 1957 he was more than delighted to accept Albert Lindon’s offer to re-sign for The Martyrs declaring:
“It’s good to be back. I have never enjoyed a game since I was away.”
Dai spent the 1957-58 campaign with Merthyr before being given a free transfer at the end of the season. He subsequently joined Bath City where he played alongside Charlie Fleming and Stan Mortenson. Even so, although Dai had played his last game for The Martyrs, he still continued to train at his beloved Penydarren Park.
Although work commitments led to Dai and his family moving to Barry in the 1960s he remained Merthyr through and through. He always attended ex-players days and relished the opportunity to relive old memories with both fans and players alike. Dai’s last visit to Penydarren Park was for the final game of the 2008-09 season. The ovation he received before kick-off together with the greetings and compliments he received from Merthyr fans both young and old throughout the match showed the very high esteem in which he was held in by all Martyrs fans.
Dai Lloyd was the last surviving regular member of the all-conquering Merthyr team of the late 1940s and early 1950s. A true gentleman it is only fitting that he takes his richly deserved place in the Merthyr Tydfil A.F.C. Hall of Fame.
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.
Having made the first three of his international appearances before the First World War whilst with Merthyr Town, Moses became a permanent fixture in the Wales team during the early 1920s, missing only one international match between 1920 and 1925.
Moses’s biggest moment was probably scoring the winning penalty to defeat Ireland 1-0 in Belfast in 1924 to secure the Triple Crown for Wales.
Although Moses made no further full international appearances after 1928, he accompanied a Welsh party that toured Canada in 1929 In a match at Hamilton, Ontario, play was getting a "little rough" when Moses fouled one of the Hamilton players, George Chambers. This precipitated a pitch invasion by the Hamilton supporters who surrounded Moses, who ended up leaving the pitch on a stretcher. Some reports claim that during the altercation, one of the spectators threatened Moses with a pistol.
Russell made a total of 23 appearances for Wales. He played 314 times for Plymouth Argyle and is considered a legend in South Devon. Today we confer the same status on him for his early career at Penydarren Park.
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.
As an indication of his consistency Andy made over 50 appearances for the club for six consecutive seasons.
During the 1988/89 season Andy led his troops to the Beazer Homes Southern League Premier Division title and with it promotion to the GM Vauxhall Conference.
After an impressive career at Penydarren Park his final appearance for the Martyrs was in May 1996 in the 3-2 defeat at Nene Park the home of Rushden and Diamonds.
In total he made 424 appearances for the Martyrs and scored 46 goals.
After leaving Penydarren Park he was appointed manager to the Welsh Ladies Senior International side, and just six years after leaving the Martyrs Andy returned to Penydarren Park in 2002, when he was appointed as joint manager with John Relish. At the time the Martyrs were playing in the Western Division of the Southern League and the new management duo led the club to promotion in their first season.
In the two years he was in charge of the Club he had a 47% win record over the 95 competitive games played. A ‘win’ ratio second only to his former boss Lyn Jones.
He was forced to leave the club due to ill-health and left his able deputy John Relish in command for the 2004/05 season.
After retiring from the game, Andrew found a career in football with the Welsh F.A. and is today a football development officer in Monmouthshire.