High up in the Rhondda valley in South Wales is the small town of Aberdare. It was here in the 1920’s that Aberdare Athletic added to the strength of professional football in South Wales, along with their local rivals Merthyr Town. Their Football League life wasn’t spectacular, nor did it leave any lasting legacy, but it demonstrates the thoughts of the administrators of the game at the time to try and build following for the game in the region.
After enjoying success in the Welsh Cup a few years after they were formed in 1893, they joined the newly created Southern League, Welsh Division in 1920. With so many clubs in the region vying for a spot in the Football League, the new division was viewed as a feeder league to the national set up. In their first season they finished runners-up to Barry in the league of eleven teams and applied for election to the Football League at the end of the season. A total of eight teams applied for election and Aberdare, along with Charlton Athletic were accepted for the start of the 1921/22 season.
Aberdare was a boom town post World War One. The local landscape was dotted with mines, both in terms of coal and iron ore and employment was high. The football club played at the Aberdare Athletic Ground (also known as the Ynys Stadium) which had a capacity in its prime of around 23,000. However, with Rugby Union (and League) very strong in the area, the football club always had a challenge to attract the crowds, apart from the local derbies against Merthyr Town and Swansea Town. In their first season they finished in 8th place, which was the highest league position they ever reached. The following season they finished second from bottom and faced re-election, but survived although it was only a stay of execution. Continue reading