16 September

On this day in 1987 Merthyr Tydfil created a little bit of European history by beating Atalanta at Penydarren Park.

The part time team from the Beazer Homes League had beaten Newport County in the previous season’s Welsh Cup final to secure their place in the European Cup Winners’ Cup.

And when the Martyrs came out of the hat to face Italian side Atalanta of Bergamo there was great excitement in the town.

The town’s shops held a window dressing competition and Italian flags were strewn from lamposts across the town as part of an Italian themed week in Merthyr!

Despite the fact they were in Serie B, Atalanta had secure their European spot by virtue of their Coppa Italia defeat to Italian champions Napoli.

And Merthyr became the focus of the footballing world’s spotlight which culminated with Martyrs player, Ceri Williams, appearing on ITV’s Saint and Greavsie programme (younger readers may want to ask their parents!) whilst laying tarmac on a Merthyr driveway!

There were 8,000 fans – or at least, that was the official figure  – crammed into Penydarren Park for the unforgettable night under the floodlights.

And it’s unlikely that Atalanta, who had Swedish star Glenn Stromberg in their ranks, had ever experienced a stadium like Penydarren Park nor a crowd as passionate and voiciferous as Merthyr’s.

And the crowd grew even louder when Kevin Rogers put the home side ahead after 34 minutes.

They were, however, silenced for a few minutes before the break when Domenico Progna brought Atalanta level, but this wasn’t a night to keep quiet if you were a Merthyr fan.

Lyn Jones’ side refused to give in and with three minutes ledt Williams showed that his footballing skills were as good as his tarmac laying skills as he netted the goal which would provide Merthyr with an historic 2-1 victory over the Nerazzurri.