Paul Merson made his Welsh League debut and Caerau FC’s regular attendance multiplied by 10!
The Maesteg club usually attract around 40 spectators for their Third Division fixtures, but with former Arsenal and England playmaker Merson in their starting line-up 400-plus people set a ground record crowd.
Caerau FC had printed 300 match programmes and they had sold out 20 minutes before kick-off with more people still queueing to go in.
Merson patrolled a small area in the centre of midfield against Pontyclun, creating havoc at times with his flicks, sublime touch and sheer awareness.
At 49-years-old his body may not be as quick or willing as it was a few years ago, but his football brain was working overtime. He organised his team-mates, directed operations and, on a few occasions, confused the opposition.
One nifty turn during the second half sent defenders in all directions – and by the time he went off after 62 minutes he had created two of Caerau’s three goals. He was also caught offside twice as he tried to get beyond the last defender.
The home team led 3-2, Jack Page (2) and Lewis Kingdon scoring, and the pity was that the match had to be abandoned a few minutes later with lights on one side of the ground continually failing.
That means the two teams have to do this all over again later this season.
Merson was mobbed by spectators young and old when he walked around the pitch towards the changing rooms, posing for photographs, signing autographs and nobody was turned down.
“I feel my 49 years, but I felt good and did set up a couple of goals,” he said. “The Caerau boys are decent lads and Pontyclun are a good team as well.
“I love playing football and this wasn’t a one-off. I’d enjoy playing in midweek fixtures when I am available. I’d like to think I might make six games or so.
“It’s a pleasure to visit Wales. The people are polite, kind and they give me a warm welcome. I will be back.”
Caerau fixture secretary Dai Hooper asked Merson to play for the club and the Sky television pundit said: “I’ve known Dai for quite a few years and he kept asking me to sign.
“I thought it was a pub league, not Division Three in the Welsh League. Caerau have good players, particularly Lewis (Kingdon) on the wing and they are a good team.”
Caerau FC: Matthew Rees, Nathan Watkins, Ellis Horrigan, Nathan Harris, Daniel Chapman, Dale Price, Scott South, Shawn James, Jack Page, Paul Merson, Lewis Kingdon. Subs: Ethan Edwards, Thomas Krause, Paul Evans, Geraint Dyment, Josh Rowlands.
Pontyclun FC: James Billington, Craig Williams, Tom Tweedy, Kieran Lawrence (capt), Oli James, James Gronow, Harry Flint, Joel Woodington, James Williams, Connor Berry. Subs: Chris Bullock, Aled Davies, Jarrad Hill, Mike Lazarou, Huw Jones.
Referee: Dan Barcley.