Merson is magic at Merlin Theatre

First published in Sport

Football lovers in the county who attended the Merlin Theatre at the Pembrokeshire College in midweek enjoyed ‘An Evening with Paul Merson’ as the former Arsenal and England regaled them with stories of his playing career.

His path through drink, drugs and especially gambling has been well documented but he provided a fascinating insight into the way that professional footballers can be trapped into that way of life, with laughter galore and a few moments of pathos at some things that went wrong.

Organised for Haverfordwest County by their commercial director David Hughes, the evening also had a five-minute compilation of some of his exciting goals.

It proved a great success and David Hughes told us: “I have been delighted by the response from our players, supporters and other football lovers and there is no doubt that Paul Merson gave us real value for money, especially since he answered some searching questions for almost an hour afterwards, with total honesty.

“We are also extremely grateful for the support of Tim Haggar at Quality Solicitors Red Kite, plus Paul Hudson and Simon Haslem, who did so much for us at Pembrokeshire College, in helping make this venture a great success for Haverfordwest County AFC.”

Merson is now a highlyrated pundit with Sky Sports after playing 21 years at the top level with Arsenal, Middlesbrough, Aston Villa, and Portsmouth.

He played under top managers like George Graham, Arsene Wenger, Glenn Hoddle and Harry Redknapp, scoring 126 goals in just over 600 matches before he retired at 38 years of age. He also played and was manager at Walsall Town, a little for Tamworth and even had one game for Welshpool Town in the Welsh League.

He began by saying he joined Arsenal as a YTS apprentice and earning a first week’s wage of £100, which disappeared in 25 minutes at a bookmakers, taken by another trainee. He spoke of his belief that although he played 21 times for England (and scored in a World Cup penalty shoot-out against Argentina) he wasn’t good enough — but the facts show otherwise.

It all added up to a thoroughly enjoyable evening and Haverfordwest County have another coup lined up on the January 21st, at the same venue, when Welsh team manager Chris Coleman will be there, along with football pundit, Ian Gwyn Hughes.

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