MERTHYR TYDFIL GREYHOUND STADIUM SUMMARY
LOCATED————————————–Merthyr Tydfil lies 24 miles north west of Cardiff, with venue situated roughly half a mile north of Merthyr town centre.
ORIGINAL SITE——————————-Recreational Grounds used for cycling and athletics during the latter part of the nineteenth century.
DATE CONSTRUCTED———————-Developed as a football an rugby grond during the early part of the twentieth century.
DATE VENUE OPENED———————Early twentieth century.
Meaning other sports may have taken place prior to the arrival of Greyhound Racing.
FIRST MEETING——————————May 25th 1931.
Greyhound Racing only.
LICENSED OR INDEPENDENT————Independent
All venues covered would have to be licensed with the government, licensed suggested in this section would refere to tracks operating under NGRC Rules.
INSIDE OR OUTSIDE HARE TYPE——–Not known.
Please note that the Electric Hare suggested is only a guidance, and would have been in operation for a certain amount of time at this venue. Although it is not necessarily guaranteed that it was operational all the time, as other types of lure may have been used and updated as time progressed.
DISTANCES————————————325 and 525 yards.
Please note that most racing venues distances had become varied throughout the years, the ones given above were at once point set and offers only a guidance to the track size.
Please note that alterations at most racing venues throughout its existence would see that the circumference of the track would vary, the one shown above offers only a guidance to the track size.
BIG RACE NAMES—————————None known of.
STADIUM SHARED WITH——————Merthyr Tydfil Football Club.
LAST MEETING——————————-Possibly mid 1960’s.
Greyhound Racing only.
STADIUM CLOSURE DATE—————-Still operational as a football stadium.
Meaning other sports may have taken place after Greyhound Racing had ceased.
STADIUM DEMOLITION——————–Still there.
BUILT ON SITE——————————–N/A
In some cases, structure’s that originally covered the venue after the stadium had been demolished, may have been themselves demolished too, so the one described is more likely to be the one which now presently covers the site.
EVIDENCE LEFT TODAY——————–Penydarren Park remains today as a football stadium, yet any evidence of greyhound racing does not show up.
FURTHER COMMENTS———————There is a myth rerding Penydarren Park and that is while under gaurd, and serving as a prisoner of war, Adolf Hitlers number two Rodolf Hess once raced his pet greyhound at Penydarren Park. Another myth is that the Football Association would never let Merthyr Tydfil Football Club be elected to the Football League, due to their involvements with greyhound racing.
Another of the Welsh valley towns that hosted Greyhound Racing, was the one at Merthyr Tydfil, a large industrial town, situated 23 miles North of the Welsh capital, Cardiff. The greyhound track itself lay half a mile north of Merthyr’s town centre, and was known as Penydarren Park, which happened to be the home of Merthyr Town Football Club. History has it that Penydarren Park was constructed partially on the site of an old Roman fort, and developed as a recreation ground for the local community, prior to the turn of the twentieth century. An Athletics and Cycling Track had been laid prior to a rugby league club playing home fixtures there between 1907 and 1910. But it was after this period that Penydarren Park became the home to Merthyr Town Football Club, and began to take shape as an enclosed football venue. Grandstands on either side of the pitch were constructed, along with ash filled banked viewing areas behind each goal. The success of the football club became more evident during the post years of the First World War, when in 1920 Merthyr Town became one of the original members of the newly formed Third Division South. Several successful seasons in the Football League followed, but by 1930, the club began to struggle financially on and off the field, and had found themselves being voted out the Football League. Four seasons followed in the Southern League, but each season brought more financial suffering, which contributed to the club folding in 1934. No doubt the great depression of the early 1930’s contributed to the low gates at home matches, as the Welsh valley towns suffered enormously, with the unemployment figures way above the national average for the UK. But an offer from a greyhound company to lay a track around the football pitch was accepted, albeit without its critics, but the extra rent was a way of easing the spiralling debts of the club. But a greyhound track at a football ground was certainly not welcome by the Welsh FA, who happened to be no different to the English and Scottish FA, who were trying their best to sever all links with the sport. First events were thought to have been run possibly prior to May 1931, having opened up as an independent track, yet little else is known regarding distances of races, but looking at early photos suggest the greyhounds chased a trackless type hare on an all grass surface. During the 1940’s, the Merthyr venue made the newspaper’s front pages for a different reason, as rumours had been generating around South Wales, regarding a well known German prisoner of war, known as Rudolph Hess, who happened to be Hitler’s number two prior to his capture, was racing a greyhound called Nimrod regularly at the Welsh track. It may have been true that he owned a greyhound, but there was never any reported sightings of Hess ever being present at Penydarren Park. In 1945 the newly formed Merthyr Tydfil Football Club began playing matches at the venue, with football renewing its partnership with Greyhound Racing once more. But the success of the football club during the post war years put Greyhound racing in the shadows of football. Racing came to an end during the mid 1960’s, and since then the stadium has transformed itself in to a more rectangular shaped football ground, with all evidence of Greyhound Racing having been removed. Today, the stadium is council owned, with the newly formed Merthyr Town Football Club being the occupants, due to the old Merthyr Tydfil Club folding in 2009 after suffering financial hardships once more.