Referees' Feature - Charles Davies - Part 9

Charles Davies 

Charles enjoys his reffing and is a hard-working chairman too!

If this football season had started it would be Charles Davies’s 12th season of being a referee and when our local football gets under way he will be eager to get involved again – and also carry on his excellent work as chairman of the Pembrokeshire Referees’ Society. He is also a very keen participant in other sports and although he plays down his ability there is no doubt that he can hold his own in golf, snooker and indoor bowls!

Started reffing Tenby juniors – and decided to become a qualified referee

He first took up the whistle when he was coaching a talented young Tenby team (more of that later) and decided that if he was doing that on Saturday mornings he could also help football, a game he has always loved and still a regular supporter of Arsenal, as a Silver Supporter to get access to tickets, and volunteered to take on the role.
“I was lucky to have Pedr McMullen as my referees’ instructor and he was brilliant, as he has been with so many other novice refs.

Charles DaviesLocal refs’ society – great camaraderie there!

“I also decided to join the local referees’ society and it was a good move because the monthly meetings provide a great forum for discussion about things that have happened in games and how very experienced refs might have dealt with tricky situations.
“It is very much a case of being able to speak your mind and to listen to others, including some very good guest speakers, like top former official Keith Burge, who was a Football League and European Official for many years but readily agreed to come down to speak when I asked him, and he gave us a huge amount of food for thought.
“I’ve also organised trips each season to watch Cardiff City or Swansea City and they’ve been great trips where the camaraderie amongst referees is easy to see.”

Played his own football as a ‘static striker’!

Charles’ involvement in football began 40 years ago when he played for a Saundersfoot junior team that was coached by Jim Jones (originally from Birmingham, and included good all-round sportsmen like Robert Subbiani, Mark Wood, Alan Hurst, Neil Rees and Tim Brace.

“It was a strong team,” Charles told us, “but we always seemed to lose to Frankie Donovan’s team at Pembroke Borough and a Lamphey team which contained really good players from the Dyson and Skudder families.
“When I moved into senior football I turned out for Carew in what I could best describe as a ‘static striker’ and then finished up at St Florence, where I played up front alongside ace goal grabber Derek Glover until I had a badly broken leg and was in plaster for 14 weeks.
“It was the end of my playing days and at the time I was involved in the diversification at our Heatherton Farm, which has led to the ‘Heatherton World of Activities’ that we still run today near Tenby as a major tourist attraction.

Looking after Tenby Juniors was brilliant alongside Remi

“At this time I started playing golf (Ed: another ‘more of that later’) but I caught the football bug again and joined Tenby Juniors in coaching with Remi Page, assuming the role of team manager because Remi was so good at the coaching.
“We had a really good team and we won loads of trophies with players of the calibre of Daryl Mansbridge, Lloyd Thomas, Ianto Griffiths, Tom Powell, Callum Proctor, Ross Grey and Scottish international Luke Hamilton in goal. We actually went two seasons unbeaten in local football and reached the West Wales Cup Final at Richmond Park, Carmarthen, before just missing out to Penlan, from Swansea.”

Family matters . . .

Family is very important to Charles and he has been married to Penny for over 30 years and they have three grown-up sons.

“I have to say she has been a long-suffering sporting wife but has been brilliant with her support,” admitted Charles with a chuckle, “and she has been to watch Arsenal a few times with me.
“Our eldest son, Lewis, is now 27 and he has played rugby to a high standard as a prop with Llanelli, and Narberth, plus Crymych, Tenby United and Pembroke, helping out in some of those clubs in the front row. He has suffered from an injury to his cruciate ligament but is back in action again now and raring to go again once the pandemic is over.
“Robert is 25 now and works for BT in Canary Wharf, London, where he used to play hockey at University College, London and now turns out for their Old Boys’ team. In his younger days he played football at county level with Angie Nicholls and when he’s home he trains with St Florence FC.
“William (23) took his degree in Liverpool University and is now back working at Heatherton after playing his football locally with Haverfordwest County through junior age groups.”

Phil Gale, Charles Davies and Gareth Elliott

Other sports

Charles enjoyed playing golf at Tenby and although he down-plays his ability by saying he can only putt OK and is a useful match player, even managing to get his handicap down to 8, belies that description and he has won a few club competitions over the years.
He also plays indoor bowls at the fantastic facility he has established at Heatherton and can be proud of the fact that he represented Wales in a rink (team of four) in the UK Championships.
“I played as lead bowler alongside Simon Hilling, Mike Jackson and skip John Roberts and we won the Welsh title at the Earlswood Club in Swansea before missing out to England in the UK semi-finals at Llanelli.
“Simon and I also reached the quarter final of the Welsh Pairs earlier this year and were due to play against Jason Greenslade and David Harding, who between them have over 200 caps for Wales – and with Jason ranked 15th in the world!
“I sometimes ask myself in what other sport could local players like Simon and I take on world-ranked players?!”
And finally, Charles also enjoys his snooker and used to play in the Pembrokeshire League for the Tenby and County Club – and again manages to underplay his involvement as he has joined Steve Davies (not the former world champion!), ‘Chap’ Harries, Steve Cook, and Mark Clevely in winning their fair share of trophies.
“I suppose I could describe my play as ‘boring’ but I always give 100%, as I try to do in all my sports.

Firm believer in football self-discipline – and players know it too!

Back on the football front, when Charles started out a referee in senior football he set out his stall from the outset by letting players know that there was no way he would tolerate personal abuse and if players should swear at him they would be off the pitch.
“I guess I could be described as a ‘marmite ref’ because whilst most players follow this basic respect there are some who can’t or won’t understand that principle – and it is great to see team captains like Dai Davies (Merlins Bridge), Stuart McDonald (Milford Athletic) and Adam Raymond (Goodwick United) leading the way in how to behave.
The undoubted highlight of Charles’ refereeing career came in 2016/17 season when he was chosen to officiate the Senior Cup Final, where Merlins Bridge beat Clarbeston Road.
“Every ref hopes to have a match without any glaring errors and I like to think that my big day went well; getting off to a good start where lots of the Referees’ Society members joined me and my assistants, Dave Badger and Kevin Milich, for my pre-match brunch at The Friars in Haverfordwest and it was a cracking game that everyone seemed to enjoy.”
“I refereed the West Wales under 16s final at Stebonheath and although there were no other officials from our county chosen to support me I felt it went well in a fast and open game.”
“I was also pleased to be Dave Badger’s fourth official when he reffed the West Wales Cup Final, where Swansea University beat Ystradgynlais 10-0 at The Liberty Stadium and I also took charge of the Fourth Division Final in 2012/13 between Clarbeston Road 2nds and Pennar Robins 3rds.


So what of the future for Charles in terms of his refereeing?

I have worked really hard at improving my fitness levels over the years. However, lockdown hasn’t helped with that, though I have still managed to play five a side games on a Monday evening for ten years.
“I play alongside some quality footballers past, and present, like Dean Rossiter, Phil Cattlin, Dewi Davies and Joe Leahy so I have to play at a faster pace than I was used to a few years ago.”
“I am also enjoying watching Lewis play rugby and I know I face a challenging time at Heatherton but I aim to continue as the man in the middle for as long as I keep enjoying it because on the whole Pembrokeshire Football is great to play a small part in!”

Steve Williams, Paul Jackson, Alan Boswell and Charles Davies