Jonny just loves being involved in local cricket and football!

Jonny Lewis and his county junior players

Johnny with double-winning managers Stu MacDonald and Kristan BennettThe current lack of sport has been a massive blow to many people in our county but someone who has felt this more than most has been Jonny Lewis, who at this time in other years would be actively involved as Hon Secretary at Hakin United, working closely with Gary Dawes in the club’s very successful over 40s team that plays all over South Wales and beyond – and been busy as a management committee member of the Manderwood Pembrokeshire Football League.
He would also be looking back on another busy cricket season, having completed the campaign as captain of Herbrandston’s second team, coaching the junior teams at St Ishmaels and watching as much cricket as he possibly could!

Early start at nearby ‘Postage Stamp’

On the cricket front, Jonny has been playing for 30 years after starting out as an eight-year old with Burton; a natural thing to do for a sports-mad youngster because he lived alongside parents Kathy and Colin (both brilliant supporters) almost opposite their small ground at Houghton which a local reporter dubbed ‘The Postage Stamp’ and the name stuck.
“My dad has always been a brilliant supporter, coming to watch me play every match, whilst mum also loved watching but got very nervous so thought it was better to stay home!”
“As an eight year old I started out in local junior cricket with Brian Griffiths as an amazing coach who still does a massive amount of work at the club’s new Oatfield Park ground and has played for the club every season for the past seven decades.

Griffiths’ family a great support

“I still hold Brian in awe and he has my total respect for his patience with me because I realise now that I wasn’t the easiest youngster to have in the teams. It was the same when I finally broke into the third team as a teenager because I used to open the bowling with his youngest son Mark, and Brian was the captain who made sure I bowled every week, even if I had been carted for 50 runs in five overs the previous week!
 “Staying with the Griffiths’ family for a moment longer I would nominate his son Rob as the best captain I ever played under as I moved up another level and whenever I got a bit hot-headed, which was a bit too often really, he had the ability to calm me down and make me focus on playing well, as he did once when I ended up with 8 for 13 against Narberth and scored 83 against Haverfordwest”

Joining Herbie – and loads of runs in quick succession

Johnny with Herbie stalwart Gary DaviesJonny eventually joined Herbrandston, where he says he has been influenced by Gary Davies and Andrew Williams as old-timers who set the standards there for others to follow.

“It is a great club to be involved with and I am going to captain the seconds again in 2021, hopefully with a full season to look forward to.”
It has been as a batsman that he has gained most success there and in one remarkable three-week period he twice came within a whisker of a first century and then finally reached the three-figure target.

“We played against Whitland and I was out from the last ball of the innings on 96 after I failed to hit the ball to the boundary – and the following week I ended up on 98 not out against St Florence after going for a big six from the final ball and watching the ball a yard inside the boundary so I had to settle for a four rather than the six I needed!
“I was really disappointed but a week later I played against Stackpole and scored 116 not out, with their experienced keeper Owen Cox telling me he was amazed I hadn’t scored a ‘ton’ before.

Dropped first ball – and finished on 173 not out!

“Since then I have managed a few more hundreds with a top score of 173 not out on my first visit back to Burton on a belter of a wicket provided by Mr Griffiths, where I went in with the score on 34 for 4 and was dropped first ball in the slips.
“Robbie Hood was at the other end and he walked down the wicket and told me to just smash the ball away, which I did as I sent the next ball over the hedge as the first of 19 sixes on a good day for me.
“It was the start of an interesting month for me because in our next match at Johnston I was bowled first ball by Steve James and followed this up with 106 in Herbie and then finished up with 98 in Llangwm as I hit four sixes and a four in the last over but missed out again on the last ball. It was an interesting time, to say the least,” admitted Johnny!

Family matters . . .

To be so heavily involved in sport Jonny has had to have terrific support from his family and after such great help from his parents he is now more than ready to say how brilliant his wife Clarissa, who used to play darts and  is now a scorer with Herbrandston Cricket Club, has always been.
The couple have sons in Dillon (10) and Jack (7), with Dillon playing cricket for St Ishmaels, where Jonny coaches the team, and for the county in his age-group squad coached by Simon Williams and Stefan Jenkins.

Level Three coach at nearby Tish

“I have qualified as a Level Three coach and there is a great atmosphere in Tish that is down to a huge degree to the hard work of Wendy Bradshaw as the best organiser I have ever come across.
“We had four players in the county squad as Dillon is joined by Caydyn McGuire, Morgan Britton and Charlie Welch – and I can’t wait for junior cricket to start again!”

Hakin United through and through

Moving on to football, Jonny has been a supporter of Hakin United for a long time and was happy to be a ‘dogsbody’ for the management team of Gary Dawes and Malcolm Jones, as well as running the line and putting up with a lot of stick from vociferous opposition supporters.
He took over as hon secretary in 2015 after Alan Roach had decided the new technology needed by the Welsh FA wasn’t for him and stepped down – but was a great help to Johnny until he sadly passed away and left a huge gap in the club’s genuine list of real characters.
“Alan was ‘Mr Hakin’ as far as everyone at the club, and across Pembrokeshire was concerned, so I knew I had a big pair of shoes to fill with work like player registration, administration of fines, organising referees and sorting out kit on match days, completion of team sheets and taking the minutes at monthly committee meetings.
“I also joined the management committee of the Manderwood Football League when I was co-opted on and then returned at the next annual general meeting. Alan had been an active member for many years so it was nice to get involved alongside stalwarts like Brian Hawkins and Micky Phillips whilst the club was pleased to have a representative there.”

Proud father with Dillon and JackMemorable moments

“But I enjoyed working with Gary and Malcolm, and then Kristan Bennett and Stuart MacDonald when they took over, and there have been some great moments, like beating Clarbeston Road 7-1 in the Senior Cup Final and completing the double when we won the league with a record goal tally.
There have also been other good times; none more so when we battled our way to the FAW Cup quarter finals and had to travel to play Llangefni Town in Anglesey – and although we lost 2-1 it was a great weekend away with talented young players like Ben Fawcett and Jack Wilson coming through against a team whose centre forward arrived in a Porsche and was allegedly paid £400 a match!

A happy footballing ‘dogsbody’

There was a further involvement for Jonny as four years ago he willingly agreed to help Gary Dawes in doing any work needed for the club’s over 40’s team which has reached two national finals after a lot of travelling, and been league runners up every season so far as proof of the commitment from veteran players across the county.
“I don’t mind being a footballing dogsbody,” admitted Jonny, and I was also delighted to do that sort of work with the Pembrokeshire County team which Gary restarted and I helped out when Nigel Delaney was manager and Chris O’Sullivan was coach – and we won the SB Williams Cup by beating Carmarthenshire and Swansea.”
“I was just delighted to be able to be so involved with Gary, Nigel, and Sully,” he told us.

Great cricketers enjoyed as a captivated spectator

Steve Phillips with a young Jonny LewisGoing back to his cricket for a moment, Jonny would say that his favourite event of each season has to be the Harrison-Allen Bowl Final at Cresselly.
“I sit in the corner near the scorebox and I’ve only missed three finals in 37 years: one when I had to work, another when I was on holiday and the 2020 final because we weren’t allowed to spectate because of the coronavirus – I really hated that!
“My best innings seen at a final  was undoubtedly when Steve Phillips (Haverfordwest CC) stroked the first century in any final – what a player and what an innings – I was so pleased for him because our families were friends that actually asked him for a photograph, which I still have today!
“Karl Rhead was undoubtedly the best home-grown batsman I have ever seen and Tim Haggar, who was my hero when I was a youngster at Burton, was a bowler I thought was brilliant. On the wicket-keeping front I would have no hesitation in nominating Huw Scriven, whose ability to stand up to the fast bowlers in matches was amazing.”

And finally . . .

Johnny is known to all in sport as ‘Johnny Bap’ and even his face book page carries that nickname but you might have wondered, like me, why he has always seemed to be so-known over the last 38 years.
Today we can reveal the secret as Johnny told us,
“I was about eight years old and playing hide and seek with my life-long friend Lewis Wood in Houghton and hid on the roof of the small changing rooms at ‘The Postage Stamp’ and he couldn’t find me.
“But then I fell of the roof and hurt my shoulder and when I was all hunched up in pain Lewis told me that I was shaped like a bap, all round and a bit fat – and soon others caught wind of his insult and the nickname stuck – and I’m so used to it now it seems just like part of my name anyway.”