Blue Plaque For Welsh Sporting Great

The lifetime achievements of a Blaenau Gwent sporting hero – the only Welshman to ever reach a football World Cup final – are being commemorated.

Mervyn Griffiths was the first Welshman to referee an FA Cup final in 1953 and is renowned as one of the leading match officials of his time

Now, more than 50 years on, Blaenau Gwent Council have announced they will unveil a Blue Plaque in his honour at Ty Ebbw Fach, in Six Bells, this Friday.

The plaque will be unveiled by fellow world class Welsh referee Clive Thomas who said he felt “highly honoured” to be asked.

“I held Mervyn in immense respect because he was a very strict referee and knowing that he, a fellow Welshman, had got to the very top, fuelled my ambition,” Clive said.

Mervyn was born in Blaina on January 17, 1909, and moved to Six Bells, near Abertillery, four years later with his family.

He embarked on a teaching career in Devon before moving back to Wales.

He took up refereeing schoolboy matches in 1934 and made the Football League’s list of referees in 1939 on the eve of World War II.

In 1949, Mervyn took charge of his first international match which was played at Wembley where Scotland beat England 3-1.

The following year, he was on his way to Brazil for his first World Cup.

In 1953, Mervyn refereed the famous FA Cup ‘Stanley Matthews’ Final’ when Blackpool came from 1-3 down against Bolton with only 20 minutes left to win the game 4-3.

A year later, he officiated in the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland, denying Hungary an equaliser against underdogs West Germany after he ruled Hungarian captain Puskas’ goal offside.

West Germany clung on for an unlikely 3-2 victory.

“Puskas came over to me and gave me a dirty look,” Mervyn later recalled.

At the end of his career, he had taken charge of 20 internationals and refereed games at three World Cups.

Speaking highly of Mervyn’s achievements, Clive added: “For me, the 1953 FA Cup Final will always be the Mervyn Griffiths’ final not the Stanley Matthews’ final as it was the first time a Welshman refereed the FA Cup Final.”

The erection of the plaque was initiated by leader of the council Hedley McCarthy.

Recognising the importance of celebrating local heroes, he said: “Anyone who is mentioned alongside Stanley Matthews, Stan Mortensen and Ferenc Puskas is touched by greatness.

“It is overdue that this is recognised and it is fitting that the plaque is being unveiled by the other great Welsh world class referee, Clive Thomas.

“I would also like to thank the Co-operative group, and Blaenau Gwent Access 2 Heritage project for supporting this project.”

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