Alternative Cult Heroes

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Alternative Cult Heroes

Post  Wandering on Sun Jul 29, 2012 8:56 am

During the close-season period the days just seem to take an eternity to meander closer to the start of the league campaign. Sometimes the warm summer nights can also turn into a futile attempt at getting some sleep. I thought things would get easier as you got older, surely as a "grown-up" I would have more important things to worry about.......

Apparently it seems not to be the case!

The games still only serve as a distraction from what I really should be doing as opposed to worrying about what will happen between August and May…....

During this period of relative inertia and the run-in to the first league game on 18th August, biopic’s of a few of the individuals who have played for the Martyrs over the years have been created as a prelude to the Club’s new ‘Hall of Fame’ initiative.


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Re: Alternative Cult Heroes

Post  Wandering on Sun Jul 29, 2012 9:07 am

Wayne Jones

An extremely eccentric character that crossed the Rhymney/Merthyr Valley divide. It is often the man himself that divides opinion; a goalkeeper who could produce the sublime one moment only to succumb to the ridiculous a few minutes later!

He hailed from a northern outpost of the Rhymney Valley and like many young lads, he always wanted to ply his trade as a footballer and was finally given an opportunity in 1983 by one of the biggest non-league sides in South Wales, the Martyrs. You can take the boy out of the Rhymney Valley but you can’t take……and all that jazz. Wayne served his apprenticeship with Jubilee Thistle and Pontlottyn Blast, years before the League of Wales was even a twinkle in the eye of Alun Evans.

Despite his initial spectacular displays Wayne was quick to catch the eye of the Penydarren Park faithful not just based on his performances. It is unlikely that the famous old ground had ever witnessed quite an excitable or flamboyant goalkeeper at any stage across its long and varied history. Wayne was certainly one of a kind, with his wild, dyed blonde punk hairstyle and trademark tattoo on his neck! The colourful character from the next valley was quick to endear himself to a group of young, fanatical and impressionable fans that followed the club at home and away.

Wayne was the kind of goalkeeper that seemed to thrive on the ridiculous with a "why save this with my hands when I can stop it with my legs" kind of attitude that must have infuriated the older and wiser fans who stood on the terraces at the time. However, most of the Under-18’s in the crowd loved the bloke and his attempts at making the unorthodox save when a routine stop would have been preferable.

There is no doubting that Wayne was a superb shot-stopper but it was his decision making (he didn’t have the biggest IQ) that would prove to be his downfall time and time again and would prevent him from establishing himself as a really top goalkeeper. Wayne struggled to decide what crosses to come for, often wandering into no-mans land, no place for any player especially the last line of a sometimes vulnerable Martyrs defence.

He won a Non-League International cap against England at Telford in February 1985, although an injury caused on the stroke of half time in a clash with Stewart Mell of Burton Albion forced him to hobble off after only 51 minutes in a game that Wales eventually lost 1-0.

It appeared unlikely that Martyrs fans were to see much more of the spectacular goalkeeping style due to the impressive form of Gary Wager, a Lyn Jones recruit in August 1986. But Wayne was to stay and play an important ‘under-study’ role during our European adventure and eventual rise towards the Conference before leaving the club.

After Wager tragically broke his leg in the FA Cup First Round game against Bristol Rovers at Twerton Park in November 1987, Wayne became first choice goalkeeper for the rest of that season. Wayne also kept a clean sheet in the Welsh Cup game against Swansea City the following year in a 2-0 win, that was the first of what seemed like an annual encounter between the league team and their non-league neighbours over the next seven years.

When Wayne realized that his first team opportunities at Penydarren Park would be restricted due to the sheer brilliance of Gary Wager he walked through the gates for the last time at the end of the 1988/89 season to join the short-lived Allan Mullins revolution at Brecon.

Away from his semi-professional football career Wayne was a bricklayer with Rhymney Valley Council until a back injury (the curse of all goalkeepers!) resulted in his early retirement through ill-health. However, as one door closed another opened and this allowed him to pursue a new career as a semi-professional entertainer of another sort – a musician who tries to sing a bit like Rod Stewart.

Sure enough Wayne was too often wildly unpredictable but it cannot be argued that he was anything other than entertaining or nerve-wreaking and for that, Wayne, we salute you.


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Re: Alternative Cult Heroes

Post  Wandering on Sun Jul 29, 2012 9:14 am






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Re: Alternative Cult Heroes

Post  Old Sod on Sun Jul 29, 2012 10:02 am

I can't remember Mark Lawrenson playing for us but the player in the front row on the left is the image of him. Some great cheesy moustaches on show!

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Re: Alternative Cult Heroes

Post  Wandering on Sun Jul 29, 2012 10:13 am

That's Phil Fisher.

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Re: Alternative Cult Heroes

Post  Solihull Martyr on Sun Jul 29, 2012 3:03 pm

This must have been the mob who were playing around the time I started watching the Martyrs (81 ish). Don't remember anyone other than the keeper though; nor the TSB shirts..?

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Re: Alternative Cult Heroes

Post  Wandering on Sun Jul 29, 2012 3:58 pm

Back Row: Frank Hagerty, Chris (Esky) Williams, John Allchurch, Keith Pontin, Wayne Jones, Barry Vassallo, Chris Holvey, Mickey Carter.
Front Row: Phil Fisher, John Williams, Peter Jones, Kyle Holmes, Brian Davies.

That was Chris Williams first spell with the club, John Allchurch was the grandson of Ivor Allchurch, Keith Pontin came to us from Cardiff City, Barry Vassallo ex-Arsenal, Chris Holvey was and still is a Martyrs legend, Mickey Carter was from Nelson and married ex-club chairman Mansel Williams daughter.
Phil Fisher played for Ammanford, Barry and I think was on Swansea's books, John Williams was a pacy wideman, Peter Jones was from Bargoed and went to Newport County before returning to play in the Welsh Cup Final and in the Conference, Kyle Holmes was from Abergavenny and Brian Davies I'll need to check where he came from.

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Re: Alternative Cult Heroes

Post  scamp on Sun Jul 29, 2012 4:34 pm

Wayne is a great fella and everything wandering has said about him is spot on.I met him recently in asda and there was a big hello and then he told me how he is continually following our progress. I remember when he made his debut for us against ton pentre coming into the ground with his boots in a tesco bag .A great character

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Re: Alternative Cult Heroes

Post  Tim Drummond on Sun Jul 29, 2012 5:12 pm

That's not Brian Davies (after his time). It's Phil McNeil who joined Merthyr from Barry Town.
Davies, from the Rhondda, was ex-Portsmouth and Southampton.

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Re: Alternative Cult Heroes

Post  Tim Drummond on Sun Jul 29, 2012 5:15 pm

Wayne is often around town and loves to stop and chat with Martyrs fans. He also turned up at the players' reunion last season. He is still SAILING along with his Rod Stewart tributes.

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Re: Alternative Cult Heroes

Post  Wandering on Mon Jul 30, 2012 10:58 am

Tim Drummond wrote:That's not Brian Davies (after his time). It's Phil McNeil who joined Merthyr from Barry Town.
Davies, from the Rhondda, was ex-Portsmouth and Southampton.
It's a different Brian Davies (Common Name!).
The Brian Davies that you are referring to played in the late 60's/early 70's and now works for his sons Turf Accountants business.
It's not Phil McNeil either.
This particular Brian Davies was a 24 year old striker when he signed from Ammanford and made his debut in the 2-0 win against Milton Keynes in March 1984.

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Re: Alternative Cult Heroes

Post  Wandering on Mon Jul 30, 2012 12:27 pm

Nick Deacy

During the Summer of 1973, player-manager John Charles signed a potentially dynamic strike-force consisting of Derek Bryant from Minehead and 20-year old Welsh Amateur international Nick Deacy from Welsh League club Cardiff Corries. The pair became a formidable, if short lived, partnership for the Martyrs.

Although a recent graduate from Cardiff Parks soccer, Deacy already possessed considerable physical strength and presence which complimented Bryant’s stealth and predatory instincts.

During the first half of the 1973/74 season Nick played a major role in an exciting run in the FA Cup. Wins in the Qualifying Rounds against Barry Town (3-0), Glastonbury (3-1), Mangotsfield United (2-0) and Macclesfield (2-1), set up a 1st Round Proper game against Weymouth. This was to take place during ‘the winter of discontent’ against a background of 3-day working weeks, petrol rationing, and reduced electricity consumption as Ted Heath’s Conservative Government of the day faced high rates of inflation and industrial action by the miners.

Former Arsenal winger Allan Skirton became a virtual passenger for Weymouth after an early heavy challenge from uncompromising left back John Wakeham and a 1-0 win in Dorset set up a home game against Hendon in the 2nd Round. However, John Charles hopes of being the first manager to guide the Martyrs through to the 3rd Round came to an abrupt end at Penydarren Park as the visitors strolled to an emphatic 3-0 win in a game that was an anti-climax for the home supporters. It was the young Nick Deacy that had the Martyrs only worthwhile effort during the 90-minutes. Hendon’s reward was a 3rd Round trip to St James Park, Newcastle.

After the disappointing end to the thrilling FA Cup run the Martyrs only managed to finish in mid-table as Stourbridge won the Southern League Division 1 North title.

The startling progress made by the young Deacy caught the eye of scouts from Football League Clubs and within a month of the start of the 74/75 season, a transfer fee of £1,500 was paid by Hereford United who had been elected to the Football League a few years earlier after their own FC Cup giant-killing. His fledgling career failed to take off as expected and Deacy was sent out on loan to Workington.

After making only 17 appearances and scoring 2 goals during his brief stay at Edgar Street, his transfer in 1975 to Dutch side PSV Eindhoven, who at the time were coached by Kees Rijvers, came as a major shock.

Deacy joined Dutch internationals Willy and Rene Van De Kerkhof at Eindhoven as they finished runners-up in the Dutch league during 1976/77 to qualify for the UEFA Cup the following season.

During this period Deacy made his Welsh Senior International debut in a 3-0 win against Czechoslovakia at Wrexham, creating a further major landmark in his career as he scored one of the Welsh goals. He also played in the only Welsh side to beat England at Wembley in 1977 when they won 1-0 with Leighton James scoring the decisive goal. Deacy eventually made a total of 12 international appearances for his country.

Only four short years after joining the Martyrs and experiencing their thrilling FA Cup run, Deacy found himself on the score-sheet against opponents Glenavon in the First Round of the UEFA Cup, a tie that PSV won 11-2 on aggregate. In the Second Round Polish side Widzew Lodz were dispatched 6-3 on aggregate and in the Quarter Finals against Magdeburg a 1-0 defeat in East Germany was followed by a thrilling 4-2 victory in Eindhoven to set up a semi-final against Barcelona.

After completing an easy 3-0 win at home, Eindhoven travelled to the Nou Camp full of confidence after winning the Dutch League title just four days earlier. After just 15 minutes in the return leg the Catalan side had opened a two goal lead. It was the former-Martyr and young Welshman Nick Deacy who was acknowledged as the second half hero for PSV as he scored the crucial away goal. The Spanish giants added a third but PSV made it to the final 4-3 on aggregate.

The Dutch champions were far too strong for Bastia winning the two-legged final 3-0 on aggregate. Just four seasons after swapping Penydarren Park to play at the Nou Camp, Nick Deacy had become a full Welsh International and a UEFA Cup winner! Only a few months later the Van Der Kerkhof brothers would play in the World Cup Final in Argentina.

Nick left PSV in 1978 after making 52 appearances and scoring 8 times. Remaining in Holland he spent a season at both KBFC Beringen and Vitesse Arnhiem, eventually making 103 appearances in the Dutch League and scoring 18 goals.

In 1980 he returned to Britain signing for his former Wales team manager Mike Smith at Hull City, where he played 87 games scoring 7 goals, before leaving in 1982 to spend a year with Happy Valley of Hong Kong. His travels overseas ended in 1983 when he played 31 times for Bury before starting the 84/85 season back at Penydarren Park, making a further 22 appearances for the Martyrs scoring 7 goals. He made his farewell appearance and scored his final goal for Merthyr in the 2-2 draw against Redditch United on 18th December 1984. A pelvic injury kept him out of action for the rest of that season.

He had further brief spells at Swansea City, Double Flower, Ebbw Vale and Barry Town.

Nick retired from football in 1988 and now works as a computer analyst in the design department at British Aerospace in Fulton, Bristol.

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Re: Alternative Cult Heroes

Post  Wandering on Mon Jul 30, 2012 12:28 pm




Nick Deacy is front row first player on the right.


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Re: Alternative Cult Heroes

Post  Solihull Martyr on Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:20 pm

Wandering wrote:Frank Hagerty
You're kidding!
Wandering wrote:Chris Holvey
Yip, now you've said
Wandering wrote:Peter Jones.
Actually, he hasn't/hadn't change much. I'd just have put him at a later period.

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Re: Alternative Cult Heroes

Post  scamp on Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:34 pm

And all credit to the manager maldwyn davies who spent 72k on building strikers in the 70s and also brought john charles to the club

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Re: Alternative Cult Heroes

Post  fistral10 on Tue Jul 31, 2012 1:00 am

Great articles on both players Rob - I wasn't watching us in 84/85 and didn't realise Deacy had come back. I vividly remember him and Derek Bryant playing in the 73/74 season, and they were a great partnership up front. Whilst Deacy was easily the bigger and more physical of the two, I thought Bryant was absolute class and played as big a role as Deacy that season. How long did Bryant stay after Deacy left?
Very diplomatic about Wakey's challenge on Allan Skirton, I assume it was slightly mistimed not premeditated......

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Re: Alternative Cult Heroes

Post  cliffyboy on Fri Aug 03, 2012 3:14 pm

Brilliant posts here, that brought back great memories following the Martyrs in the 70's , I was at that infamous game v Hendon in the FA cup, rumour going around the ground at the time was that John Charles had taken the players out for a meal PRIOR to the game - it was later confirmed to be the truth! - no wonder we lost 3-0. I was also present at Twerton Park when Gary Wager broke his leg after a challenge from Devon White, that was another cup tie. The Wales 1-0 win at Wembley in 77 was another game I attended, I had some great times following the mighty Martyrs in the 70's - I was working at the Hoover factory (we all were!) 70-78. "Those were the days"

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Re: Alternative Cult Heroes

Post  Merthyr Imp on Fri Aug 03, 2012 3:54 pm

cliffyboy wrote: I was also present at Twerton Park when Gary Wager broke his leg after a challenge from Devon White,

Devon White used to play alongside Bob Latchford for Lincoln City. (Just thought I'd throw in that little fact of little interest).


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cult heros

Post  jeffh on Fri Aug 03, 2012 4:35 pm

What a great post , I've enjoyed reading this suject and recalling the heros of times past. It merits being put into the programme. I think it would be a good attraction to show what a great side we had in the 70s

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Re: Alternative Cult Heroes

Post  Solihull Martyr on Fri Aug 03, 2012 5:28 pm

cliffyboy wrote:I was working at the Hoover factory 70-78.
So -you were the one! Thank goodness the Un**ns were not aware - everyone out!

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Re: Alternative Cult Heroes

Post  Merthyr Imp on Fri Aug 03, 2012 5:32 pm

jeffh wrote:What a great post , I've enjoyed reading this suject and recalling the heros of times past. It merits being put into the programme. I think it would be a good attraction to show what a great side we had in the 70s

A shorter article on Nick Deacy written by Phil Howells appeared in the match programme for the game against Calne Town on 29 January 2011. If you (or anyone) missed it and would like a copy John Strand may still be able to supply one: strand@salisburyclose.fsnet.co.uk

Wandering - did you receive my Private Message?


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Re: Alternative Cult Heroes

Post  timshorts on Sun Aug 05, 2012 2:06 am

I'm fairly sure that I saw Barry Vassallo (above) breaking his leg in two places when playing for Luton (who were good then). Perfectly horrible. Worse, it appeared to be a fair tackle - at least by those days standards - and probably by most of ours now. I don't think that the tackler (Paul Clark) tackled anything other than the ball. Anyway, it must have finished his league career, hence playing in the lower leagues after an insurance pay-out maybe?

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Re: Alternative Cult Heroes

Post  Wandering on Mon Aug 06, 2012 7:23 am

Chris Holvey

It was probably an extremely proud moment and the most fitting tribute to a colossus of a man to be able to lead the Martyrs side that won the Welsh Cup at Ninian Park in 1987.

In both the good periods and the bad times (and there were many of both during his long period of service at Penydarren Park) Chris Holvey stood out as a massive figure amongst his contemporaries. His sheer physical presence and resolute positive mental attitude were immense, providing him with a significant psychological advantage over his opponents before the idea of sports psychology was even invented.

If anyone led by sheer example it was Christopher Holvey. His obvious passion for the club certainly made sure that everyone did their duty and accomplished exactly what was expected of them, both on and off the field. With a reputation for being, physically, one of the hardest men to play non-league football at Penydarren Park or anywhere else in the country, the folklore surrounding Chris is legendary.

It was former manager Emrys Evans who first spotted the young Chris Holvey playing for Gwent Football Association Under-18's at Aberystwyth against South Wales Football Association Under-18's in 1971. Even at that stage in his career Chris was a very impressive player.

Holv, 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.

While playing Youth team football for the RTB side in Ebbw Vale, he also played for the Bristol Rovers Youth academy. He then came under the supervision of Stan Montgomery, who was one of the selectors for the Boys Clubs of Wales International side. Chris made a great impression and represented his country on four occasions. He also represented the Great Britain Boys Clubs side against Belgium at Villa Park.

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.

During his career with the Martyrs, Chris 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.

Apart from his defensive duties Chris was often to be seen at the opposite end of the ground using his strength and aerial height to great effect as an offensive weapon in the Martyrs armoury.

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.

Unfortunately, they broke the ingot when Chris was born! He was certainly someone really special.

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Re: Alternative Cult Heroes

Post  Wandering on Mon Aug 06, 2012 7:24 am






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Re: Alternative Cult Heroes

Post  Solihull Martyr on Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:13 pm

Now we are talking!

Remember when I was working for Lucas in Hengoed (Ystrad) some time 86/87 and bringing a couple of Birmingham friends/work colleagues who were staying down to the Park (a number were Bob Latchford fans from his time at Blues, and they wanted to see how he was getting on). During the game, one of them - suitably impressed by the centre half performance - akded "who's he?". "That", I replied "is Chris Holvey". All that needs to be said really!

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