Going back to John Charles, did he earn good money?
I can’t tell you what players earned but he went from Leeds to Juventus and knowing John, he went there for nothing, he didn’t benefit himself, Leeds must have benefited but John wouldn’t have, the only think that john would benefit from is the public, I don’t think he could pay for anything out there, they named all sorts after him out there. Big John, well he was a giant wasn’t he!
Did he have to work when he retired? I’m just trying to work out how different it would be compared to today, if he was the greatest player of his day, I can’t imagine Christiano Ronaldo needing to find a job to keep himself fed when he hangs up his boots.
When he finished he came to Cardiff, I played against him there and when he left, he went to Hereford I think but most of the boys were going from Cardiff to Worcester because Bill Jones, who was the manager of Cardiff had gone there. Ivor Allchurch went there too with Bill Jones and from there John went to Hereford and became manager and the next thing I knew, he had finished there and went to Merthyr as manager and he came in here and asked me if I would play for him.
That is when he spent three years sitting over there (by bar) and asking ‘shall we do this? Shall we do this?’ and taking my advice, I’d say that ‘I would do this if I were you’ and between us we were alright, he was the manager but eventually after three years, I was playing for him at this time (at Merthyr) and he came in here one morning and he said ‘Mel, I want your advice and your opinion’ and I said ‘what’s the problem?’ and he said ‘Swansea City have invited me down the vetch as assistant manager to Harry Gregg, what do you think? Should I take it?’ well I said ‘hang on now john,’ because at the time he was at Merthyr, the tail end of him being at Merthyr.
Harry Gregg came down to Swansea and he stayed here for a fortnight, stayed in the hotel and I remember him sitting by there and you wouldn’t have met a nicer fella and he’s got daughters, I don’t know if he’s got three girls or something but he idolises them, he was a nice person to speak to, my opinion of Harry Gregg at that time was brilliant. The moment he took over down here and once he signed he moved out of here and went to live in Langland, he must have bought the house and he changed into a different bloke.
Anyway, John was asked to go to be assistant to him and I said that he was a nice person as he seemed it when I’d met him before he’d changed. John came and asked me and I said ‘let’s put it this way, Hereford, where are Hereford? They are in the southern league. They are not in the league, Swansea are in the league, I know that you’d be assistant at the moment but if anything happens then its progress for you, you are going in the right direction, you don’t just go from one to another, you go with it, learn from it, and it is your home town, I think it would be a good move for you John’ that was my advice.
He packs in with Merthyr and I’m playing for them, I hadn’t thought this thorough, the next minute the whole committee at Merthyr had a meeting and they want me to replace him, I didn’t want to do it. They invited me and my wife up there for a dinner and you know Eddie Thomas the boxing promoter? He was at this dinner and I’m going ‘I’m not doing it, I don’t want to do it’, he had me against the wall, hands around the neck going ‘you are taking the job! You got to take it! You are doing it!’ I didn’t want to do it, I have to be honest but I didn’t want to.
I came home from there and they talked me into it and after twelve months of doing it I was paying half the boys wages, £20 to play a game! Couldn’t afford to play in the week but on the weekend they would. I bought them a mini-bus because you couldn’t have them all driving away in cars, sixteen seater minibus, had it all sprayed and give it to them, I redone their board room, their boardroom at the time was the boiler room so I did that and I was enjoying it. I got to be honest, I was really enjoying it but I didn’t want to do it in the first place but I did enjoy it, I was playing as well, I enjoyed the challenge.
Sometimes I wouldn’t play because I got people up there and I dragged them up there and I wanted to play but I stood back and let them play and after about eighteen months I can remember coming out of the social club one night after playing a game and I’m manager and I controlled the wages and I come out and I used to take my car and there are four other players who came from Swansea and those four and myself would travel up in my car. We are up there and come out of social club and they are heading over the social club and I see the chairman of the club coming out and he calls over Douggie Rosser, one of my players, a mate, then someone else goes over and then someone else and I say ‘what is that?’, well I am manager and he is chairman and he is calling players over to his car ‘is he giving you extra money behind my back and not telling me?’ and that is what was going on, they were paying players outside of the boundaries which I set and that is wrong.
I said hang on a minute, I went into Ken Tucker who kept that club running, can’t say enough good words about Ken and I said ‘ken, call a board room meeting, get everyone together and so I sat down and I said that I’m putting a vote of no confidence in the chairman because I’m manager and he’s’ going behind my back and paying players extra money without me knowing’ they out voted him and we are sitting there and we think that we have to vote in another chairman and they are all looking at me and I’m like ‘no chance, f¬ck off!!’ I’m only here as a manager, honestly, they made me a director and chairman and I was also manager and a player, I was everything!