Merthyr Town have paid tribute to fearless Frank Hegarty, an uncompromising centre-half from the 1960s.
Hegarty, whose immediate family originally lived in Galon Uchaf, passed away last month.
Former Martyrs player-manager Ken Tucker, who called Hegarty into the Southern League team in 1967, said: “Frank was the most reliable person I have ever met.
“There was one occasion when a bulb needed changing on the floodlights. When I spoke to Frank about getting somebody to replace it he said ‘I’ll do it’ straight away.
“I told him that we didn’t have the right safety equipment for him to get to the top of the pylon, but he just started climbing the metal tubular framework without any ladders or a harness.”
Hegarty worked for many years as a linesman for the GPO, which later became British Telecom, and climbing telegraph poles was second nature to him.
He played for both Castle Rangers and the Martyrs’ Welsh League side before going into the Southern League team.
During a match against Bexleyheath and Welling, Hegarty split his tongue in half, but carried on playing.
Tucker said: “He was fearless and totally devoted to his team-mates.”
When Hegarty retired from playing he was asked to stay on and help to run the Welsh League side, whose squad included his teenage brother Philip.
During his three decades at Penydarren Park, in addition to Ken Tucker, Hegarty saw service under Brian Preece, Maldyn Davies, John Charles, Mel Nurse, Emrys Evans, Doug Rosser, Ian Docherty, Fred Davies, Phil Boersma, Lyn Jones and Wynford Hopkins.
He travelled to Italy with the team in 1986 to compete in the Anglo Italian Cup, played a significant role as first team trainer when we won the Welsh Cup, promotion to both the Southern League Premier Division and GM Vauxhall Conference.
He was in the dug-out when Merthyr lost against Runcorn in an FA Trophy quarter-final replay plus defeats against Hendon, Chesham United, Hereford United and Woking in the FA Cup second round proper.
During the mid-1990’s, after a much needed, hip operation Frank’s time at Penydarren Park came to an end.
A club statement said: “In addition to the considerable success Frank enjoyed at Penydarren Park, his association with the Club will always be recognised as someone who could be relied upon to do anything to help the Club.
“He was in spirit the essence of a really true clubman.”
Player-manager Gavin Williams and his 2019-20 Merthyr team travel to play Hendon FC in a BetVictor Southern League match tomorrow.
Hendon, who are third from bottom in Premier South, won in midweek defeated AFC Dunstable 2-0 in the CSS League Cup.
The Martyrs have only won once away outside of Wales this season and would love to improve that record in Hendon.
The top match in Premier Division South on Saturday is the game between Chesham United and Poole Town.
The Dolphins have games in hand on all teams above them, including five on second-placed Chesham.
They lie a point behind Truro City, who entertain Walton Casuals.
— Hendon Football Club (@HendonFC) December 6, 2019
Merthyr Town fixtures over the next month:
Saturday 7 v Hendon (away)
Saturday 14 v Walton Casuals (home)
Saturday 21 v Wimborne (away)
Boxing Day, Thursday 26 v Yate Town (home)
New Year’s Day, Wednesday 1 v Swindon Supermarine (away)