The village of Llangwm loses its 'Gentle Giant'


There was an air of sadness in the village of Llangwm over the weekend at the sad news that one of its best-known, respected and liked inhabitants in John Brock had passed away at the age of 82.
John was rightly regarded as the best rugby player to hail from the village as he was capped for Wales at youth level, played for Llanelli at the top level until he suffered a knee injury, and overcame a lot of pain to play as part of a very strong Wasps’ side in local rugby.

His family mattered so much

He was very modest about his achievements and when my wife Marilyn and I chatted to him and his lovely wife Shirley at their home some years ago we were treated to a proper tea and cakes, plus a guided tour of the aviaries in the back garden where he bred his beloved budgerigars, he wanted more to chat about the fact that all their three sons and five grandsons have played a lot of sport in Llangwm to leave his own lasting legacy.
Indeed, his wife Shirley, who has been his devoted wife for 62 years, played cricket for the women’s team in the village as a young lady, and their sons Nick, Tim and Jeremy have all played sport at Pill Parks – and grand-daughter Jennie won a Welsh vest in athletics.
Their grandsons Richard, Huw, Jonathan, Andrew and Luke are all talented young sportsmen and in recent years John and Shirley loved nothing more than long summer afternoons where he could sit in his deckchair at Pill Parks and support the boys whilst they were playing for the village cricket team.

John Brock and Family


A very early start to rugby – and a Welsh Youth cap as proof of his ability

John Brock in Welsh shirtHe captained Haverfordwest Secondary Modern School as long ago as 1953 and was already about 6’2” and 14 stone so he took some stopping from his berth at No 8 - and he was captain of Pembrokeshire Schools at under 15 and under 18 levels, and teachers at the time told him he was very unlucky not to be selected for the Welsh Schools’ team after playing really well in the final trial.
But he was soon in the Welsh Youth team and played in two ‘capped’ games, as well as others where caps weren’t awarded. He played in a winning side against Italy at St Helens, Swansea, and Wales lost narrowly to France in Paris. John was rightly very proud of his cap, which has been kept safely at home alongside his Pembrokeshire Schools’ cap, whilst he presented his Welsh jersey to Llangwm and it is still on show in The Wasps’ clubhouse.


Making a name for himself at Stradey Park

Back on the home front, John had played his first senior game on the wing at Pill Parks at 14 and had a game with Milford Haven a year later, something that would never be allowed today. His play for Wales Youth soon came to the attention of Llanelli and he played against Waterloo and Nuneaton before it was discovered he was only 17 and so had to wait a year.
But then he quickly made a name for himself at Stradey Park and went on several tours to Ireland and played in Russia against the home nation and Czechoslovakia as well as being part of Scarlets’ team which topped the Welsh League with players of the calibre of Carwyn James, Terry Davies and Rhys Williams.
But he sustained a nasty leg injury against Swansea and since there were no replacements in those days stayed on the field and made it much worse and he inevitably lost some of his power but stayed at Llanelli for two more seasons, helping out when players were called away for Wales.

John Brock in Llangwm team

League championships at home – and a mighty thrower of a cricket ball!

Then John went back to Llangwm and served the Wasps well alongside other legends like Dilwyn Lewis, Tony Kiff, George Thomas, Bert Jones, Peter Rees and Barry Jones to name just a few of a winning team that was highly respected in the county. He also had one season in Milford where they won the league but was most happy at Pill Parks until he retired in his mid-30s, when his knees were too painful to continue.
John also played cricket as an opening bowler for Llangwm and although he would admit he wasn’t the best player he really loved fielding and was something of a legend there because he could throw a cricket ball from one set of goalposts on the adjoining rugby field to the other!

A lovely man

Whenever I saw him watching Llangwm play cricket there was always time for a chat and I can safely say that John Brock was one of the nicest sportsmen I have ever met in my life and we can ill-afford to lose genuine characters of his calibre.
His passing leaves the whole family and his many friends feeling bereft and my heart goes out to Shirley, Jenny and all the boys who make up John’s beloved family!
Rest in peace John, my friend.