Welcome to a continuation on the regular series on The 94th Minute, called “Starting XI”. This is where I ask various people, who are fans of football, a number of questions to get to know them better! The first few questions will differ for each person, but the final question will always be:
“Who would be in your all-time, favourite starting XI?”
This is a question where anyone can be put into their starting eleven, whether they are famous footballers, football legends, past or unknown players who had an impact on their childhood, or even players they have played with or coached. Anyone is acceptable in their XI providing they give a reason for their inclusion!
The thirteenth instalment of the series is an interview with Louis Moore, a Merthyr Town and Arsenal fan, who is behind the excellent Welsh football account and blogsite, The Twelfth Man. I wanted to know more about his blog, how Merthyr Town are getting on currently, his sponsorship of a pink training top for a Welsh League team, and finally, the players he would choose in his all-time starting eleven.
Q. Could you give the readers some details on your excellent website, ‘The Twelfth Man‘, and how it all came into being?
The Twelfth Man is my personal blog page that I set-up back in April of this year at a time where, mentally, I was at my lowest, and needed something to take my mind off all the negativity that I had in my life. I started writing about football a few years ago under different blog names (‘The Armchair Supporter’, ‘Back of the Onion Blog’) but neither had much relevance or identity. So I decided to start a completely new blog in April under my favourite football cliche “The Twelfth Man”, but rather than just have a blog site, I decided to create Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, which makes it far more easier for people to engage with me and visa-versa. It also means I don’t have to put enormous pressure on myself to constantly write huge blog posts for people to read. It’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!
Q. Being a Merthyr Town supporter, what has been your favourite game that you have seen since you have started watching them?
Without a shadow of a doubt, it would have to be our home win against Tiverton Town last season. It was a Tuesday night, absolutely freezing and with around 10 minutes into the game our goalkeeper was sent-off for a deliberate handball outside the box. Typically, we didn’t have a substitute goalkeeper on the bench so we had to throw in our left-back between the sticks for the remainder of the game. At this stage, you’d be praying for a draw..
We won 5-1.
It was also my Birthday!
Q. In your opinion, what would equate as a decent season for Merthyr Town for the 2019-20 season?
On paper, I think this is the strongest our squad has looked since I first started supporting the club midway through the 2016/17 season where we narrowly missed out on promotion. We’ve had a couple of mediocre years since but we’ve had a productive summer with lots of new faces joining the club. With all that said, we should at least be aiming to reach the play-offs again this season!
Q. Would you like to see Merthyr Town potentially do a ‘Colwyn Bay’ and move into the Welsh leagues, or would you prefer for the club to maintain their position within the English system?
Ah, it’s a really tough one because historically Merthyr have really struggled financially and there’s been a lot made about the financial benefits of joining the Welsh League Pyramid. Of course, Cymru Premier League fans will often chuck in the “prospect of playing European football” argument although a two-legged tie against last season’s Lithuanian champions doesn’t quite excite me as much as the possibility of Merthyr moving up the English leagues, or even reaching the FA Cup 1st round, etc. (granted the chances of either are slim but we can all dream). I’ve only supported Merthyr for the past two years and there are Welsh League teams much closer to where I live who I could watch instead but I chose to support Merthyr mainly because of them being a fan-owned non-league club. So ideally, I’d much prefer us to stay in the English system but I am more open to moving to the Welsh leagues compared to what I was 12 months ago (especially with talk of Welsh Independence on the rise).
Q. Being a Welsh fan like myself, how do you think the Euro 2020 qualifying group is going along for the Red Dragons currently?
I can’t lie, I’m not Ryan Giggs’ biggest fan and wasn’t thrilled when he got the job. However we’re still in with a chance of qualifying which we would’ve killed for 10 years ago. The results haven’t been overly poor but some of the performances have been questionable (i.e. Hungary away, Azerbaijan at home) and I do feel like we’ve lost a bit of our identity on the pitch, too! I’ll give him my backing whilst in charge but I really, really really miss Chris Coleman!
Q. From your posts, you are clearly fond of buying and collecting different football shirts – what is your favourite football shirt that you currently own, and which one would you love to own in the future?
Ah, surely you can’t make me pick a favourite? I found a Merthyr Tydfil FC shirt on eBay last year and although it’s absolutely massive on me, I love it! I grew up as an Arsenal fan (until I was old enough to go and watch Cardiff that is) and managed to find the Nike/JVC home shirt when Dennis Bergkamp signed in 1995. I think my favourite though has to be the Wales shirt worn in the Euros, although it’s only a template kit, it just brings the memories flooding back.
A kit I would love to own though would be the new Red Star FC home or away shirts. So cool!
Q. Talking of football shirts, you currently sponsor Aberbargoed Town’s nifty training shirt. How did that all come about?
Well, I’ve actually been involved with Aberbargoed Town FC for the past few years and used to run their Twitter account when they first started up in 2017. I was even on the committee at one point. I’ve gradually become less and less involved over time as I’ve found it’s quite difficult juggling two football teams who both play on a Saturday. Previously being on the committee, every season we’d look at different kits and try and get sponsors in, but since I started ‘The Twelfth Man’ in April, I loved the idea of sponsoring a football club and Aberbargoed were the obvious choice. I wanted something that would stand out and the bright pink shirt has definitely succeeded in that respect!
Q. What are your hopes and plans for ‘The Twelfth Man‘ for the future?
I ask myself this question everyday and each day I usually have a different answer. Ultimately though, it’s all about the effort I put into the blog and everything else that comes with it. When you work full-time sometimes you lose a bit of enthusiasm for doing the things you love but I’ve had some amazing feedback and compliments from friends, family and followers since I started ‘The Twelfth Man’, and that really does encourage me to stick with it.
At first, it was just about blogging but sponsoring and helping design the Aberbargoed Town FC shirt has definitely given me some inspiration to try and take things to the next level. One of the lads even suggested that I should try and create a clothing brand out of it, so watch this space!
Q. Finally, what is your all-time, favourite starting eleven?
Formation: 3 – 3 – 4
Goalkeeper: David Seaman
I’ve gone for “Safe Hands” in goal. Whilst he’ll be remembered for his ponytail and “that” Ronaldinho free-kick that looped over his head in the 2002 World Cup by lots of fans, he’ll be remembered fondly by Arsenal fans for his consistency and “that” save against Sheffield United in the FA Cup!
Central defender: Kevin McNaughton
Ok, so he wasn’t a right sided centre-back but I had to chuck ‘Super Kev’ in here somewhere. Was always one of my favourite Cardiff City players over the past few years. Always gave 100% and very much a fans’ favourite and the recipient of one of the best chants I’ve ever heard. I want silver hair too! Oh and he also recorded a wedding video for my wife and I on our big day!
Central defender: Sol Campbell
An absolute rock at the back and another player I don’t think Arsenal have ever really replaced. Gets in this side for being one of the “invincibles” but even more so for leaving Spurs and joining the Gunners on a free transfer!
Central defender: Ben Davies
Again, not typically a centre half but has spent a large amount of his Wales career playing as a left sided centre-back. A vital player for his country, and our Euro 2016 campaign could’ve been over before it began had it not been for his superb clearance from Hamsik’s shot in the opening game versus Slovakia.
Midfielder: Patrick Vieira
Another ‘invincible’ added to the list and an absolute colossus in midfield. Pass, run, tackle, score. He could do it all! It was always a huge occasion watching the Arsenal – Man United games during the late nineties / early noughties and the Vieira versus Roy Keane midfield battle was always the centre of attention. How times have changed, eh?
Midfielder: Andrea Pirlo
What a player! I read his autobiography a few years ago and once I started it, I couldn’t put it down. Seemed to get better with age and once he grew a beard! Definitely the type of player you’d want pulling the strings in your midfield. No Pirlo, No Party!
Midfielder: Joe Allen
Mr Reliable / The Welsh Pirlo. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him have a bad game for Wales and he was absolutely incredible during the Euros and was hoping that would lead on to better things for him, so you can imagine my disappointment when I saw he’d signed for Stoke City! He’s still got a few years left in him but even after a rough few years with the Potters, he’s still far too good for the Championship.
Forward: Ian Traylor
On the very odd occasion I’ll be sat down watching Merthyr, Traylor is one of those players that will get you off your seat! I’ve only been supporting Merthyr for the past 2 and a half years and I think he’s scored in almost every game I’ve watched (it certainly feels like that anyway). I’ve no idea how he isn’t playing at a much higher level but we’re very lucky to have him!
Forward: Thierry Henry
The King. It was impossible to leave this man out especially being Arsenal’s all-time goal scorer. Was heartbroken when he left for Barcelona in 2007 but he definitely had his best years with the Gunners. I keep seeing a photo on Instagram with Henry, alongside Robert Pires, on the Highbury pitch just before kick off and the caption says something along the lines of “long sleeved jerseys, socks up. You knew the game was over before the ball was kicked”. I think that says it all.
Forward: Dennis Bergkamp
One of the main reasons I supported Arsenal growing up was because of the “non-flying Dutchman”. Although I was only young when ‘DB10’ first joined the club, his signing was instrumental in Arsenal’s success in the late nineties / early noughties. His ball control was exquisite and I could watch his goals for hours. I’m pretty sure Thierry Henry wouldn’t have scored half the goals had he not had Bergkamp next to him either. Pure class!
Forward: Gareth Bale
Before the ponytail / man-bun we’ve grown accustomed to over the past 4 years, it was the Gareth Bale of 2010 absolutely destroying Champions League winning, Inter Milan right-back Maicon that made the world sit up and take notice. He’s gone on to have an incredible career although I’m still baffled about his treatment at Real Madrid. Without a shadow of a doubt the Best Wales player of all-time (in my opinion).
A massive thank you to Louis for answering my questions and being an absolutely superb guest on the Starting XI series! I have certainly learnt a lot more about Merthyr Town, and to keep an eye out on the fortunes of The Martyrs this season. Also, I enjoyed his choices for his starting eleven, with that midfield being superb. The Italian Allen and the Welsh Pirlo in the same team = magic!
To find out more about The Twelfth Man, the links to the website, and social media accounts can be found below:
- Blogsite: https://thetwelfthmanfooty.wordpress.com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/twelfthmanfooty/
- Twitter: @twelfthmanfooty
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/twelfthmanfooty/
To read or catch up on the previous Starting XI episodes, they can all be found at the following link HERE.
If there you have any feedback, comments or suggestions who I should interview next in the series, let me know either below in the comments box, tweet me @The94thMin or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! It would be good to hear what you think about the series, and what have been your favourite episodes so far!