South East Wales

Referee Mervyn Griffiths remembered with blue plaque

A commemorative blue plaque has been unveiled to the only Welshman ever to appear in a football World Cup final.

Mervyn Griffiths was a linesman in 1954 when he controversially ruled out a late equaliser by Hungary against the eventual winners, West Germany.

He was the first Welshman to referee an FA Cup Final, the famous game in 1953 when Stanley Matthews helped Blackpool come from behind to beat Bolton 4-3.

The plaque can be seen at his childhood home at Six Bells in Blaenau Gwent.

Mr Griffiths was born in Blaina in 1909, moving with his family to Six Bells four years later.

A teacher by profession, he began refereeing schoolboy matches and officiated at the first of his three World Cup finals in Brazil in 1950.

Another Welsh World Cup referee, Clive Thomas, will unveil the plaque.

'Fuelled my ambition'

Mr Thomas, who officiated at the 1974 and 1978 World Cups, said it was a high honour to be asked to perform the ceremony.

"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, [it] fuelled my ambition.

"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."

Mr Griffiths made his mark in the 1954 World Cup final when he denied Hungarian legend Ferenc Puskas an equaliser in the last minute, with West Germany leading 3-2.

Plaque
The plaque can be seen at Mervyn Griffiths's childhood home at Six Bells in Blaenau Gwent

The Hungarians had been clear favourites, but the Welsh linesman's flag ruled it offside, and the West Germans won the World Cup for the first time in a game that became known as the "Miracle of Berne".

At the 1958 World Cup - where Wales took part in the finals for the first and only time - Mr Griffiths was a referee's assessor as his countrymen reached the quarter-finals.

Welsh football expert Ceri Stennett said: "In his day he was regarded as Britain's top referee and one of Europe's leading officials."

The plaque will be put up on Ty Ebbw Fach, a converted former pub which now hosts a heritage centre and coffee shop. It is close to the former Six Bells Colliery, where Mr Griffiths's brother and nephew died in a 1960 disaster.

Also due to attend is Gerrard Lewis, 88, from Port Talbot, who officiated alongside Mr Griffiths as a linesman.

Hedley McCarthy, the leader of Blaenau Gwent council, initiated the plaque idea to celebrate local heroes.

Mr Griffiths died, aged 65, in 1974.

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