In the last week, one Welsh football story has dominated the headlines, in the situation that Merthyr Town finds themselves in.
The club was forced to allow 80% of their playing staff leave, as the Martyrs suffered a 13-1 defeat in the Southern League Premier to Chesham.
This has prompted fans to come together as a collective unit and raise funds to keep their community club afloat, raising half of their required £25k in an impressive amount of time.
Merthyr began as a club in the Welsh Leagues and played their first competitive game in the South Wales League in 1908.
Two years later though, the club moved to join the Western and Southen League, pitting their wits against mainly English opposition but Aberdare, Ton Pentre and Treharris also joined them.
It wouldn’t be until the 1940s where Merthyr would return to Welsh football, where they would attract crowds ranging from 4,000 to 10,000 after the Second World War.
But a return to the Southern League swiftly followed and through their former club Merthyr Tydfil FC and their phoenix club Merthyr Town, which was found in 2009. They have remained in the Southern League, enjoying a rise back to where the club played its football for most of its history.
But could a move to the Welsh pyramid system offer an alternative route for Merthyr?
Merthyr, however, has enjoyed their time in the Southern League and are one of the most successful sides in the competition.
Merthyr Tydfil FC claimed six Southern League Premier Division titles, finishing second on two occasions. They’ve also claimed titles in the league’s feeder divisions and very nearly won promotion from the Premier Division, suffering narrow play-off disappointment after a defeat on penalties.
Being introduced to the system could reduce travelling costs, as well as being able to develop matches with local teams like Penydarren and Ton Pentre.
On the other hand, the footballing world has come together to support Merthyr, with the club forging a strong relationship with Cinderford Town and Dorchester Town, who will be in attendance for Saturday’s fixture with the Magpies.
HOW SOCIAL MEDIA REACTED
A poll was posted onto the YClwbPelDroed’s social media feeds, gauging the reaction of whether they should make the move, with some Merthyr fans in disagreement, where they are happy to remain to play football in England.
I’ve got no complaints about where we currently play, and won’t kick up any fuss about where should play but, let’s be honest it is something we should atleast discuss… even if it is dismissed.
— Andrew Benjamin (@AndrewBenjami13) November 21, 2017
Not on our watch. Recent poll on Forza Martyrs saw 400 MTFC fans polled and result was 100 per cent result to remain in English Pyramid System. https://t.co/bNnnySFKnD
— AndrewEvans⚽️ (@therovingsheep) November 21, 2017
Would be a bad move for the town as it would mean they’d never get out of the WPL and probably lose a lot of their fan base
— Matthew Driscoll (@Mattdrisc) November 21, 2017
don’t think they should “consider” it – think it should have been mandated when they reformed. Many clubs fought a long and bitter battle against their forced participation – and yet Merthyr, even after disappearing – and reappearing – continued in English system. https://t.co/riBAPdpUAl
— Matthew Shooman (@MattShooman) November 21, 2017
One of the best nights that Merthyr have experienced was through the Welsh system, as they won the Welsh Cup and were allowed to compete in the European Cup Winners Cup, where they stunned Italian side Atalanta with a 2-1 victory at Penydarren Park.
Could the possibility of having more European nights at Penydarren Park be something to consider if they made the decision to move to the Welsh system?
There’s an example that Merthyr players can play at the top level of Welsh football too, with one player making the move from the Southern League Premier to the Welsh Premier League this summer.
The former Martyrs striker Kayne McLaggon is enjoying himself in the Welsh Premier League, scoring eight goals and being involved in the other two that the Linnets have scored.
The problem that any move may encounter is where Merthyr would begin, should they go through with an idea.
The town in fact already boasts a side which plays in the fifth tier of its pyramid system in Merthyr Saints, a club who have their own proud history, where they have ground shared with the Martyrs before.
(Featured Image: Same Old Smiths)