Around The Boundary - Colin Williams a larger than life character at Haverfordwest

Colin WilliamsColin Williams is once again involved at Haverfordwest Cricket Club, playing mainly as an opening batsman with the third or fourth team to help out, when once he was a feared fast bowler who played 12 times for Wales, made over 30 appearances for Pembroke County and was a multi-medal winner with The Town.

He has made a welcome return to action after quite a long lay-off caused by recurring knee problems and has also found another cricketing niche as the club’s Disability Coaching Officer and is thoroughly enjoying that role as much as he loved playing when he was a youngster.

Other Sports . . . 1

Colin was also a very good squash player who played at The Meads (Milford Haven), Fishguard and Haverfordwest at different times - and in his work as a postman he was singles’ champion in the Welsh Post Office competitions and was a leading player in the regional team that regularly won the Welsh team championships against the other ten regions.

He also enjoyed similar success in athletics because he competed in field events at the Alexandra Stadium in Birmingham.

“I came second in the shot behind Paul Head, who threw the hammer for Great Britain, and I was in the top six in the discus and javelin.

Colin in Welsh cap. . . Other Sports 2

He had started off squash at Haverfordwest Secondary Modern School, where he used an old-fashioned wooden racquet against Mr Peter Skelton and took ages before he ever came close to beating him.

Then he joined Haverfordwest Squash Club in the ‘C’ team but had soon forced his way into the ‘A’ team  squad by sheer determination and willingness to listen to good advice - and enjoyed 30 happy years on court before ‘dodgy knees’ caused him to step back.

“But I really enjoyed playing and one of the highlights was competing in the ‘B’ Tournament at The Welsh Closed Championships in Cardiff and reaching the semi-final.

Not content with that little lot, Colin also played tennis with staff at Haverfordwest Secondary Modern School, ‘social football’ with Crundale and Haverfordwest Cricket Club, plus badminton at The Meads and Haverfordwest, where he enjoys encouraging youngsters.

Third team start – and soon into the first team

But Colin has always rated cricket as his No 1 sport after the late Hughie Phillips called at his house to ask if he would play for Haverfordwest in the Ormond Youth Cup and enjoyed himself bowling, although his batting was a bit hit or miss.

“Then The Town set up a new third team and I joined at the same time as Hughie’s son Steve, who I still regard as one of the best all-rounders I played with - and eventually we both made it into the seconds, where I played against Rosemarket and Pembroke, and took three wickets in each game.

“They were the last two matches of that season and then I found myself in the firsts alongside other relative youngsters like Andrew Williams, Martin Donnelly and the Sexton brothers, Mark and Alan, where I stayed until 1994 and then the old knees were causing me a lot of problems.

“During that time we were a strong team and we won at least five Harrison-Allen Bowl Finals alongside Duggie Morris and Jubilee Cup wins - and we once reached the final of the Welsh Intermediate Cup but lost out to Briton Ferry Steel at Ebbw Vale.

Alec Colley Cup Winners

Interesting figures earn county selection

“I soon realised I could bowl quickly and loved running in from the top end at The Racecourse and can still recall taking 6 for 8 against Stackpole and in one final against a very strong Kilgetty side I only conceded 4 runs in 11 overs during the two innings, nine of them maidens, and we still lost!

“But the quickest I think I ever bowled was at Pill Parks against Llangwm where Martin Donnelly and I shared ten wickets as we bowled them out for 28 and the slips stood just ten yards in from the bottom boundary as I hurled the ball down!”

These sort of performances saw Colin picked well over 30 times for Pembrokeshire, where he would say that Carew’s Martin Cole was the best captain (against Glamorgan Seconds) he came across in local cricket and Peter Hall was easily the top batsman - and Colin played against him twice in tied league games at Carew and then Lamphey. The late Steve James was another superb captain nominated by Colin at Haverfordwest.

Welsh games followed – 12 of them!


On the subject of captains, Colin would also add that Barry Lloyd was the same in the Welsh team as he used his experience from playing for Glamorgan in county cricket.

Even more memorable than playing for Pembrokeshire was perhaps the fact that Colin played 12 times for Wales after taking 5 for 13 in the trial before his debut and still has his cap proudly on display after his best performance was a 4 for 33 haul against Buckinghamshire, with other good figures being 1 for 33 in 20 overs against Shropshire at Usk and 2 for 35 against Cheshire at Penarth when the late Aled Davies (Carew) was also in the Welsh team.

Winning  with Mark Ramprakash for Great Ormond Street


No slouch at batting either

Outside of his fast bowling it is also worth mentioning that Colin was no mean batsman either.

“I started very low down the order but I worked hard in the nets and eventually moved up the order despite our overall batting strength.

“My top score was 98 against Saundersfoot on The Racecourse where I top-edged a full toss and was caught - and once belted 64 against Carew where I reached my half century in 22 balls, including six sixes off my old chum Martin Cole!”

Family matters . . .

Ask Colin about family support and he would be quick to say how great his wife Nicola has been putting up with his moaning about niggling injuries or encouraging him to play on a regular basis - and their son Kieran, who has overcome dyspraxia to represent Wales at disability cricket through sheer determination as a left-arm bowler. Also in his close family is nephew Simon, who is also a left-arm bowler and fantastic coach who is a major cog in the county’s coaching set-up and last season won an ECB Coaching award that saw him and Colin travel to Loughborough for Simon to collect it at a special dinner.

. . . Leading to disability coaching

It was through taking Kieran into the nets that Colin began his own association with coaching and after qualifying he now he runs the local disability cricket hub as he works closely with Les Randell and his wife Jenny, who are the officers of Welsh Disability Cricket.

“Interest in participation has grown tremendously and I love the small, but very important steps that our members go through - like a youngster who couldn’t catch a ball but then seeing the look of joy as I gently threw a ball to him for the umpteenth time and he finally caught it.

“It is the same with batting and bowling steps along the way and at the moment this area now has four players in the Welsh squad and with the prospect of more to come in the near future.”

Back in harness – and keeping wicket!

Back on his own cricket playing, Colin battled had against knee problems until the mid-1990s and decided he couldn’t play as he had done for 30 years and so he stopped playing, with an inevitable increase in his weight - but come the millennium he was coaxed out of retirement by Simon and a few others.

I had some games in the seconds and made my mark for the wrong season as I bowled a nasty beamer against Peter Bradshaw, a real gentleman at St Ishmaels.

“I spent the rest of the innings apologising to him so I realised I had gone soft since my best days -  but it was nice to be back, and since then I have dropped down to the thirds or fourths, where I am happy to help out when needed.

“I don’t bowl at all now but have found a new role in cricket because I keep wicket for the fourth team and really enjoy a different sort of involvement which I really enjoy - and claiming the odd stumping is almost as good as taking wickets in the first division; but not quite!”

Harrison-Allen Bowl Winners

And finally . . .

Colin still has on unfulfilled ambition and that is to play cricket in a match with son Kieran and nephew Simon also in the team - and that could come next season in the local T20 midweek cricket competition, with a bit of luck.

If it goes ahead we will be sure to hear about it because we regularly touch base with Colin at The Racecourse or when we bump into him whilst shopping in the county town - and we will try and go along to watch a larger than life character fulfil his final ambition in cricketing after he has achieved so much over a long career where at one stage he was one of the best-known players in Pembrokeshire Cricket!