Aberaman Athletic Football Club
Aberaman A.F.C. is one of the founder members of the Welsh League 1902-03. Like many clubs founded in the late 1800’s their early history is lost in the mist of time. But it would be true to say they established themselves as one of the best sides in the valley earlier on.
For instant recognition regarding their early status is shown by the stark statistic that in 1902-03 season they were finalists in the Welsh Cup. 10 years later (1912-13) they were finalists in the Welsh Amateur Cup. They won the South Wales and Monmouthshire Senior Cup in 1902-03 and in the 1911-12 and 1912-13 seasons they were winners of the South Wales and Monmouthshire Amateur Cup.
In the year before the2nd World War, they were finalists in the Welsh League Challenge Cup. Such was the standard shown of trying, if not always succeeding, in maintaining a level of play consistent with playing attractive and competitive soccer that during the 2nd World War years they were asked to join the Western Section of the Football League in order to help sustain the general rundown occurring in football because of the many players nation wide having to become members of the Armed Forces. They played the likes of Cardiff City, Swansea, and two other non-league sides asked to supplement the Football League, Lovells Athletic and Bath City. Surprisingly the game flourished against all the odds and helped maintain a degree of normality in what was otherwise a grim period of history. Countless problems arose but they were overcome. While Britain fought for freedom, football survived and became a morale-booster. Administratively a small band of soccer enthusiasts run the game in what time they had spare from the trials that abounded because of the war. But run it they did. Primarily during the years 1942 to 45 Lovell’s and Aberaman Athletic along with Bath City formed a unique association with the blue birds of Cardiff City Swansea Town and Bristol City that lasted 3 seasons. Lovell’s team derived from Newport’s famous Toffee Factory surprisingly won this new-formed league twice and were cup runners-up once. In the last completed season of pre-war football they had been Welsh League champions while Aberaman had finished fourth. All three sides relied greatly on guest players from Football League clubs. Aberaman however often experienced problems raising a team through they did prior to the War launch the country’s most expensive player Bryn Jones on his career.A record home crowd of 2.500 saw Aberaman lose a cup-tie against Bristol City 3-1. They managed to draw level in the second leg only to go out in extra time
Mention of Bryn Jones and his association with Aberaman needs further explanation. Born in Baden Street, Penyard, Merthyr into a family destined to produce eight-football league professionals over a period of 50 years. Starting with Ivor Jones in 1918 and ending with Cliff Jones in 1968, the Jones family had at least one member playing professional football. Bryn was one of five brothers who played professionally: William John (Southend) Ivor (West Bromwich); he also played for Wales and was the father of Spurs player, Cliff. Bryn himself (Southend, Glenavon, Aberaman, Wolves, Arsenal and Norwich, Bert (Aston Villa, and who was killed in the war) and Emlyn (Everton, the father of Sunday Mirror sports writer, Ken Jones, who used to play for Southend) Bryn, the fourth son of collier William Daniel Jones, played for Queen’s Road School, Merthyr, and began his professional career with Southend, before crossing to Ireland to join Glenavon in1929 at the age of 17. Unable to settle, he returned after a season-and-a-half to play for Aberaman Athletic. He soon made his presence known to the extent that even this early in his career the Merthyr Manager, Albert Lindon, who was also Arsenal’s chief scout in Wales showed interest. But it was Wolves who snapped him up from Aberaman for £1.500, in a move that was to help launch him the country’s costliest player. He soon developed into greatness under the guidance of Major Frank Buckley and in August 1938, Arsenal astounded the world of soccer by paying a world-record fee of £14.000. Arsenal’s manager, George Allison signed the cheque with seeming alacrity and it is still to be seen to this day at Highbury.
During the season 1935-36 Aberaman were runners-up in the Welsh League Championship. Four years later (1940) it was the young Alf Sherwood, (see cameos of greatness for more relating to Sherwood) born on the side of the mountain, over looking Aberaman’s soccer ground namely Northview Terrace, who was to bring the spotlight back to reflect once more on the small valley side who occasionally through their history helped spawn someone who touched greatness and spread the team’s name far and wide. Sherwood was undoubtedly to become the greatest left back of his day and was to prove a thorn in the side of many a great player who tried to better him whilst attacking down the right flank, etc.
Behind the scene Mervyn “Pop” Walker (Walker trained as a physiotherapist in Cardiff under the father of the great boxer Jack Peterson known as PA Paterson) who never asked the players to do what he himself could not do governed the strict code of training. Much sweat resulted in much that was sweet on the field of play.
Administratively their greatest asset in later years and the reason for their survival through many an insolvent period has been the work of their very long standing secretary, Brian Fear (see cameos for full details) or Mr Aberaman A.F.C., as he’s known. As a young child he was their mascot and later in 1957 he became their secretary and in this year 2001 he still is. Honoured by the Welsh Football League and the Football Association of Wales, who he has served in numerous capacities over the years reaching the culmination dreams are made on by his being elected President of the Football Association of Wales in 1994.
Change of venue: Aberaman now play on Aberaman R.F.C’s old ground, Abercwmboi R.F.C play on Aberaman A.F.C ground and, Aberaman R.F.C. have long played at the Ynys and have changed their name to Aberdare R.F.C.