Solva says goodbye to one of its colourful characters

Dai The Bomb Evans Not many taking charge of grassroots football teams can boast a Wales international, BAFTA winner and platinum-selling musician amongst their former players, but Ian Walsh, Kieran Evans and David Gray were just some of the hundreds of players that came through the youth ranks at Solva AFC under the stewardship of Dai ‘The Bomb’ Evans.

David Henry Llewellyn Evans (Dai) passed away peacefully on 11th February 2021 aged 83, having been involved with club from the early 1970s though to the 1990s and an active member of the community for much of his life.

Footballers will remember Dai

It is for his involvement with Solva AFC that he will be most fondly remembered by many, particularly the generations that played in the teams he led.
Dai ‘The Bomb’ gained his explosive moniker not in response to any military actions, but the opposite – as a result of his attendance on the Aldermaston marches, the anti-nuclear weapons demonstrations in the 1960s.  

Rod Stewart is said to have attended those same marches as a means to meet women, but you could not have said the same for Dai. Those who knew Dai would not have been surprised to have seen him taking part, with him having being inspired by Labour party icons such as Michael Foot and Nye Bevan.

High standing in Solva community

He followed in his father’s footsteps and became the Road Man for the county council and treated the highways and byways of Solva as if they were his own, spending a lot of time looking after his local streets and chatting with his fellow villagers over a cup of tea as he went.

His standing in the community was demonstrated in his election to the parish council where he served for many years in the 70s.

Top fund-raiser – and great with the footballing kids

His passion for communicating was not reserved only for his fellow Solva residents however. He was known to become friendly with visitors and indeed to all. Perhaps it was this amiability that helped him raise thousands of pounds for Solva AFC through selling weekly Tote tickets, a feat he would repeat at other local fundraisers. If tickets needed to be sold, Dai was your guy.

His most cherished contribution to Solva AFC began with his stewardship of the u15s team in 1971 and he was then responsible for many subsequent teams and enabled generations of young lads to play the game as part of a team alongside fellow club legends Walter Smith and Ken Jenkins.

Led youngsters by example

Dai was not a football coach or manager but more a facilitator. He would be there every Saturday and although he didn’t drive, a bus would be provided for away games and Dai would be on it.

There needed to be an adult present for the team to play and he was that man – but that did not diminish his contribution one bit. He was a role model and even a father figure to the young players under his stewardship and many fair play awards were won by Solva as a consequence of his influence.

Taught them about life

His players likely learnt more from him about how to behave and treat others than about tactics and formations as it wasn’t all about the football, it was about life lessons. One example of this was Dai sending one of his teams back to a shop to return the items they had shoplifted while on an away trip.

Dai got everyone to behave in a civilised manner to all, even the opposition, a philosophy and diplomacy that stemmed from his work.

Those early teams formed the nucleus of what would become the team that would make it to the final of the West Wales Youth Cup in 1974, coming up against none other than Swansea City.

A genuine community character

In typical style, Dai became close to a number of people in the Pembrokeshire football fraternity as a result of his years travelling around the county and one of those who came to play for Solva later on in his career, John Davies, was a great friend to Dai. Together with Solva Care, John played an important role in helping Dai remain in his own home in his final years.

There are very few characters like Dai left and as times have changed there is unlikely there will be again. His passion for his work, his community and his local football club revolved around his love for talking to people, whether he was on the football field, in the pub or on one of his many bus journeys around the county or even further afield.

Dai’s contribution to the Solva community will not be forgotten, and plans to install a bench in his honour at Solva AFC are already in motion.

Dai The Bomb Evans is pictured standing on the far right with the Solva AFC under 15s team of 1972-73.

Photo: Dai ‘The Bomb’ Evans is pictured standing on the far right with the Solva AFC under 15s team of 1972-73.