Cardiff City supporters recently said goodbye to long-serving Trust member Brian Mertens, who has died at the age of 66. Tim Hartley pays tribute to a founding member of the Cardiff Trust and one of the great advocates of the trust movement.
There’s one of them at every club in Britain, an individual or small group of people who are a permanent fixture on match days. It may be the old man with straggly hair you’ve seen chaining his bike to the railings for years, the woman who’s been selling programmes from that booth seemingly forever or the family you’ve watched growing up at the player's entrance collecting autographs.
One such permanent at Cardiff City was Brian Mertens, ‘Brian the Bluebird.’ Come rain or shine every match day Brian would be standing with his walking stick outside the Supporters Trust office just around the corner from Gate 5 at the Cardiff City Stadium, recruiting new members, selling raffle tickets or just chatting about the team.
Brian was a stalwart of the Cardiff Trust and served on its board since its inception. He was our ‘Trust Liaison Officer’ and would invite members from trusts of opposition teams to come and meet us before games. Through his work, we made many new friends as we stood outside the office sharing our experience and advice with supporters from across the leagues. Despite his long-term illness he worked tirelessly to improve the game. A better example of creating ‘friendship through football’ you could not have hoped to meet.
Brian also represented Cardiff at Supporters Direct’s Championship Group meetings and was a regular at the annual supporters’ summit. We would drive to Birmingham or to London together and talk all the way about ‘the City,’ Wales’ prospects at the Euros or who we should sign next. Well informed and passionate in his beliefs Brian was good company and a good friend.
He believed in the principles of supporter representation and was determined to hold the club and the game to account for the benefit of us all. Thanks Brian for everything you did for our trust and for the movement. We will miss you.
Tim Hartley is Vice Chair of Supporters Direct.