Jonathan Willington is concerned by inappropriate behaviour by parents

This week Bill Carne was delighted to chat to an old cricketing team-mate in Jonathan Willington, who recently wrote an open letter to The Western Telegraph about his concerns over inappropriate behavior by parents – and his further comments make interesting reading . . .
 
In cricket, rugby and football Jonathan Willington would readily admit that he was as competitive as most but now, as a parent of two young boys and as a coach and excellent official he has become disturbed about the behaviour on the touchlines and boundaries about the behaviour of those alongside him.
 
Jonathan Willington This is particularly so with regard to parents who lose their self-control and even go as far as berating their own children afterwards and reducing them to tears - and so strongly does Jonathan feel about the inevitable problems this causes that he decided to write an open letter to The Western Telegraph to highlight his concerns.
 
"If I take Seth or Oscar to matches I wish them good luck before the game starts and tell them to have fun - and then I stay totally silent throughout the game and afterwards ask them if they had a good time.
 
"If my wife Lisa is taking them I do more or less the same before they leave home because they have to learn that whilst winning is great it is a fact that losing is also part of being involved in sport, at any age or level.
 
"With regard to the teams I help coach we always emphasize the need for respect towards opponents and their coaches - and although it sounds clichéd it is nice to see them shaking hands with the opposition afterwards and saying 'well done'."
 
That Jonathan should be so involved in sport should come as no surprise because his late father Raymond (known to all as 'Pop') played rugby football and cricket, as well as being a useful boxer.
His mum Mary played hockey in her younger days and sister Anna was a very good netball player, whilst brother Darrell also played rugby and cricket - and later on took up rowing as a founder member of the Llanion Rowing Club in Pembroke Dock.
 
His brother Richard and late brother Gareth were also all-round sportsmen and great characters - whilst sons Seth and Oscar have certainly taken on Jonathan's mantle and his wife Lisa, who he describes as his greatest supporter, is secretary of the Pembrokeshire Association of Cricket coaches!
 
Outside of his current involvement as a cricket player and coach, Jonathan is kept busy by his boys as Seth plays as a cricketing all-rounder with Hook and Pembrokeshire at under 13 level, junior rugby in the second row with Llangwm and as goalkeeper for Merlins Bridge juniors.
 
Oscar plays at under 10 level in football for Prendergast Villa and rugby at Llangwm, as well as cricket for Hook and the county in their under 10 team.
"He's also very quick as a runner," said Jonathan, "so certainly doesn't follow his dad in that respect," he adds with a chuckle!
 
 
Ask Jonathan about his own playing days and he would readily admit that he was fiercely competitive but knew where to draw the line - and was ever-ready to share a drink or two with the opposition afterwards.
 
As a nipper in Pembroke his major game was rugby at Crickmarren, playing in the back row and being a regular throughout his junior days with Pembrokeshire and with Dyfed.
"I went on a county tour to Cornwall as a 16 year old in the County under 19s and with Clive Lewis as our youth coach I played alongside quality players like Simon Edwards, Jamie Dow, Peter Jelley and Nigel Allen as we beat Neyland 10-6 on their own ground to win the Griffiths Cup.
 
“I made my debut for Pembroke First XV in the back row alongside Martin 'Animal' Alderman and Gareth Davies, who really looked after me, plus players of the quality of amazing No 10 Rodney Cadogan, and Simon Edwards, the youngest captain the club had seen.
 
“I won the County Under 23s cup with Pembroke in 1989 as we beat Crymych 29 - 6 in the final at Narberth. I scored two tries in a team that included Matthew Edwards, Sandy Allen and Peter 'Slugger' Morgan.
 
 
"I only played for about five years because I had bad shoulder problems and so switched to football with Pembroke Borough, where I had played up front in an outstanding team that included Steve Callan, Pat McQuillan and Benno Jones; coached by Frank Donovan, easily the best coach I ever met, with Rowena Lloyd providing lots of encouragement.
 
"We won everything from under 11 to under 16 and followed up with a 1-0 win over Narberth at Kilgetty where Darren Thomas scored the only goal.
 
"So when I knew my rugby playing days were over I went back to London Road to play a bit of senior football but this time played in goal - and was pleased to play a couple of matches for the first team in the Welsh League.
 
"Again there was lots of 'chopsing' on the touchline but it was usually aimed at referees and not by parents in the early years, but who would be a football ref now? They need a hide like an elephant to put up with it!
 
 
Jonathan Willington plays for Hook who won the 2017 Alan Brown final"On Sundays I still used to pop up the club to help coach the juniors, although it wasn't in the structured way they have today, and although parental behaviour wasn't like today a subtle change had already begun to take place.
 
"Then I took up refereeing for almost a decade with the late Keith Bryant as my mentor and really enjoyed reffing, although I wasn't interested in going up the ladder because there was so much travelling and I was too interested in my family for that.
 
"But I enjoyed being involved and I know I was highly thought of by the powers that be. By the end however, it was plain to see that there had been a further deterioration in touchline behaviour, despite the very clear 'Code of Conduct' provided for every club by the WRU."
 
 
If Jonathan was successful in the winter sports it is also worth recalling the fact that he also represented Wales as a very powerful discus thrower in athletics.
"I enjoyed throwing the discus in games lessons and surprised myself by winning the school, county and Dyfed championships on several occasions - and even more so when I went to the Welsh Championships in Brecon and came second.
 
"From there I was chosen to represent Wales at the British Schools Championships in Petreavie Stadium in Dunfermline, Scotland, where Colin Jackson was the team captain and ex-Llanelli star Simon Davies was the other hurdler.
 
"I didn't finish anywhere near the podium but it meant I was awarded my Welsh vest and I still have it at home as a memento!"
 
But it was in cricket that he was perhaps best known, having played for Wales six or so times at under 16 level and earning a reputation at senior level as a fiery fast bowler and huge hitter that brought him seven centuries, a top score of 161 in 33 years at Stackpole - and a ball hit out of St Helens in Swansea in the final trial before his Welsh debut!
 
"My first four years came at Lamphey under John Donnachie before I moved to join big brother Darrell at Stackpole and stayed there, one year apart at Pembroke, until very recently.
 
"There was no silverware but an amazing array of characters older characters like the late Dennis Alderman, Clive Huxley and John Bevan, plus Johnny Harries and Mansell Thomas who still follow the club today.
 
"My contempories were great friends Richard Gibby and Simon Edwards, Martin and Steve Alderman, Andrew Jenkins - and an old fogie called Bill Carne!"
 
Jonathan also played for Pembrokeshire throughout his junior days alongside Robbie Hicks, Darren Thomas, Chris Jones and Lyn Richards, as well as representing Dyfed Schools. He was coached by Gareth Brace (Carew) who recalls the county team being at 50 for 5 in pursuit of South Wales under 14s total of 162 for 5 when Jonathan joined well known rugby player Steve 'Bopper' Pearce.
 
Defeat looked a certainty for the county but they won by five wickets and Jonathan had five sixes in his undefeated 66: big hitting from a 14 year old!
 
Despite the fact that Jonathan would have been welcomed at any club in the county he stayed loyal to Stackpole but when he moved to Haverfordwest took Seth to play at Hook and his elder son loved it.
 
Willington senior went along to watch and got roped in by David Petrie to help coach there - and when Seth was selected for the county XI in his age group went along to support them; and was appointed team manager to help Andrew Miller.
 
Jonathan Willington is a cricket coach for childrenHe thought that at 49 his playing days were over but was coaxed out of retirement to play a few games and was selected to play for the first team which reached the final of the Alan Brown Cup at Whitland.
 
"I really enjoyed a great day as Hook were comfortable winners and I took a few wickets in both innings - and I was delighted to be presented with my first medal as I neared 50 years of age," admitted Jonathan with a chuckle!
 
Prior to this Hook success he had taken up umpiring and joined current county club chairman Paul Webb and Simon Richards on a course organised by Huw Davies.
"I really involved being involved and found it lots less grief for officials than in other sports but it was only when I was coaching our kids that I witnessed some pretty awful behaviour on the boundary that left even me speechless.
 
"We have teams from under 9s to 15s with Andrew and Kate Miller, David Petrie,  Jamie Phelps and others doing terrific work - and I'm delighted that my other son Oscar (10) loves playing too.
 
“Both love rugby and football too and we want them to have as much fun as I have had in sport - but want to see other parents joining us in supporting without criticism and aggression.
 
"I certainly don't want to be seen to be preaching to others but it is time that county organisations, clubs and especially parents ask themselves why junior recruitment is at an all-time low."
 
There is no doubt that Jonathan Willington provides a great deal of food for thought in his strongly-held views – and we wish him every success in his quest for a change in parental attitudes that hopefully see junior sports return to the good old days, when kids played sport just for fun!