By Matt Badcock
Gavin Williams says Merthyr Town’s results have been testament to the players who have stuck by the club despite the financial problems that have hit them hard – but he admits he wants to see the back of January.
The EVO-STIK South Premier outfit were plunged into disarray in November when it emerged they are in serious debt.
Among a swathe of board resignations, senior players were advised not to play and Williams’ side of kids were hammered 13-1 against Chesham.
But after taking more than 50 per cent wage cuts, a number of players have decided to stay and on New Year’s Day the Martyrs got their first three points – a 1-0 win against Frome – since they were plunged into crisis.
A fan appeal raised enough money to pay off their £25,000 tax bill and it’s hoped they are on the long road to recover.
And boss Williams, who had to play himself against Chesham, is hopeful they can keep being competitive until the end of the season as long as they can see off any January interest.
“It’s not as if the players haven’t had offers because I’d say every single one of them has,” he told The NLP.
“Obviously they know how we try to play football and it’s what the club means to them. So it’s very pleasing they’ve stayed.
“It’s going to be a big month because the Welsh transfer window is now open so I can imagine the teams in south Wales – the likes of Carmarthen and Barry Town – will be wanting them.
“So it’s a case of can we get through this month with the same sort of squad. Then we’ll be OK, we’ll be competitive in most games we play I should imagine then.
“Obviously when everything first came out it was a worry and we went to Chesham without any of them and lost 13-1. Gradually we’ve got one back, then another, and the results have spoken for themselves.
“We played King’s Lynn and lost 1-0 in a game I felt we should have won, then the Hereford game at home we were the better team but drew, then we followed it up with a good result against Frome on Monday.
“Hopefully we’ve turned a corner. I’m not going to be naïve and say it’s going to be like that for the rest of the season because we will have times when we won’t field a strong team, but that’s part of being in Non-League, I’m afraid.
“What the lads are getting paid, if they’ve got work commitments they’re going to need to do that because that’s what’s paying their bills and mortgages.”
Williams says the adversity has helped create a tighter bond among a squad he felt would have made the top five before off-field matters took over.
“I’ve managed to keep all the local lads so that in itself creates a better team spirit,” Williams said.
“Hopefully the club can turn it around and it’s just a case of us picking up as many points as we can now and getting through the season. Then hopefully if the club sorts its financial problems out then next year we can be the force we should have been this season.
“We definitely would have made the play-offs, I’m convinced of that.”
*This article originally featured in The @NonLeaguePaper, which is available every Sunday