Mike's made his mark at Bierspool

PD Quins press officer Mike RidleyMike Ridley is living proof that there is room for everyone in a range of sports, even if they are not involved in the actual playing, because he would readily admit that he has never played a game of rugby, other than at the old Coronation School in games’ lessons – but he has been a great supporter of Pembroke Dock Harlequins for almost 60 years, and is a long-serving member of their management committee.
Since 2005 he has been responsible for compiling the excellent programmes on sale on match days at Bierspool and occupies another key role because he is the club’s Hon Treasurer, charged with the responsibility of making sure that the club’s accounts are in order.
Mike is also an avid Wales’ supporter and has only missed one match in the Six Nations’ Championship since 1974 (Wales v Ireland) before the pandemic brought a temporary halt to his collection of match-day programmes he has kept of those matches, which currently numbers in excess of 360!
Outside of his love of rugby, Mike also played cricket for Pembroke Dock CC before he joined the old Pembroke Power Station staff and his shift patterns made it almost impossible to play on a regular basis – but more of that light-hearted time a little later.

Family matters . . .

His dad Bob started off Mike’s love of rugby as he took him down to watch The Quins play when he was a nipper and he was thrilled to watch his uncle, Ted Ridley play in the centre.
“Ted was a very powerful centre and Dennis Lloyd, who played in the same team and is still the club president, always maintains that Ted was the best in that position he has ever seen.
“My brother Peter was very fast and won all the sprint races in the school sports and played in the school’s three-quarter line as well as at The Quins but I was so small that I never got picked. He now lives in Houston (USA) and had his playing days brought to an abrupt halt by a badly broken leg an end of season game at Bierspool against an English touring team – which had him taken to hospital in Bertie Allen’s estate car!”

Grandad ‘Wiffy’ set him on the road to supporting Wales

“The other person who loved rugby was my grandfather ‘Wiffy’ Johns, who took me by bus to watch my first international games at the old Cardiff Arms Park, starting in 1963 when I was 10.  David Watkins was outside half and we sat in the stand next to his mother and father as Wales lost 14-6 against Ireland – and I thought it was amazing.
“In 1964 I was back there again to watch Wales draw 11-11 with France, thanks to a superb touchline conversion by Keith Bradshaw from the last kick of the match – and I was well and truly hooked! 
“Two years later we returned on Peter’s birthday to watch Australia and we lost 14-11 with great players like Barry John, Delme Thomas and Gerald Davies, who scored a last-minute try on his debut as I still waited desperately for a Welsh win.”
“I was also still in school when I watched Norman Gale skipper Wales to a 13-6 defeat against mighty New Zealand.”

Starting an amazing record of support that has lasted until the pandemic halted it

“By 1974 I had palled up with Gerry Sullivan, who was on the same shift as me, and we started to follow Wales, home and away, starting with a trip across to Dublin to watch Wales draw 9-9 with Ireland as JJ Williams scored Wales’ try, which was worth only four  points in those days.
“We not only watched Wales but went to other games, often on the spur of the moment. We even went to Parc Des Princes to watch the British Lions take on France and didn’t even have tickets but managed to buy two on the place from another Welsh supporter – and Jerry still maintains that he saw Salman Rushdie on board!
“On another unplanned trek we drove all the way to Edinburgh to watch Scotland take on The All Blacks at Murrayfield, where I had debenture tickets at the time – and it was worth every boring mile of getting there despite Scotland losing 51-0 in front of a half-empty stadium!”
Ask Mike about highlights and he would flick immediately to the Welsh successes at Twickenham.
“There have been seven wins in all, starting in 1972 and then 1976, 1978, 1984, 1988, 2008 and 2012 – and we had some great nights celebrating afterwards!”

Getting more and more involved at Bierspool . . .

Mike Ridley at the PD Quins clubhouseBack at The Quins, Mike’s involvement other than as a spectator began around 2005 when Stewart Longhurst, the club’s excellent Hon Secretary invited him to take on developing the club’s match-day programme and since then Mike has been busy before every home match in writing the notes about both teams, the selected squads and anything else that will encourage spectators to buy it.
“To be honest it costs us £1 to have it printed, which is the actual cost we charge – but we have managed to get generous sponsors in it which makes it really worthwhile as a fund-raiser.

Young supporter of The Bluebirds

Mike admits that whilst his affiliation isn’t as strong as with the oval ball game he does follow the fortunes of Cardiff City in the Championship Division of English Football.
“As a nipper I managed to get a newspaper round in Pembroke Dock and used the money to catch the train to Cardiff and get out to Ninian Park, watching the game from the famous Grange End and enjoying my pasty and chance to watch The Bluebirds. Then it was back home having seen some of the best players in the UK because Cardiff City was in the top bracket at that time.”

Cricket was great fun

“I enjoyed cricket at the Coronation School where we had such a small pitch that running a single actually gave you two runs and if you hit the ball onto the bank about 30 years away from the stumps you had four runs.
“I also had five seasons of cricket with Pembroke Dock at Imble Lane but then shift work started for me at the Power Station and I couldn’t manage regular games so I played a few friendlies there, although I still went to watch The Dock when I could because I had good pals there like the late Meyrick Rowlands.
I used to open the batting for the seconds and to be honest we weren’t very good but had a great time.
“I remember once carrying my bat throughout an innings and finished with 8 not out in a final score of 23 runs – and when we played Lawrenny Seconds we were shot out for 18 and I was back at Pembroke Dock in time to watch Charlie George score the winner in the FA Cup Final for Arsenal which earned The Gunners the coveted double!
“I played alongside the likes of Alan Bateman, Martin Harries, Phil Morris, Malcolm Powell, John Green and Maurice Jones and Maurice Leyland, and I did manage a couple of 20s as we lost almost all of our games but certainly enjoyed the social side of cricket!

Mike Ridley with Heineken Cup

. . . And now looking after the cash!

Mike took over the role of Hon Treasurer at The Quins when Nigel Edwards stepped down, having done a good job, and even in the short time he has looked after the cash he has seen a huge change in the increase in the work load.
“I know the pandemic has increased the things to be done but normally we have a committee meeting on Monday evenings and we have plans to become a limited company in the near future.
“I have to see that all the bills like electric, gas, insurance, alcohol, water and so many more things are paid promptly – but as well as that I am involved every Friday with others like Berry Rogers (who loves looking after the pitch), Alec James (quite amazing for his age), Paul Ambrose, Simon Lloyd, John Wilson and Phil Vincent.
“We do all sorts of jobs like cleaning and painting and although the social club is also closed at the moment I still drive over from Haverfordwest to check that everything is OK. I have suspended payments for Sky Sports TV and the Public Performance Licence.

Mike Ridley is a massive fan of Wales

And finally . . .

During the season, Mike watches every match, home and away, puts out the kit for the players and makes sure it is all handed in afterwards to take it to be laundered – and if it is extra dirty he takes it home first to clean off the worst of the grime!
“I also make sure that I attend every match, home and away,” Mike told us, “and so I act as unofficial press officer, helping the likes of PembrokeshireSport.co.uk to provide its excellent service.
“It is great to be involved and everyone at the club, from youth and senior players, committee, supporters and sponsors loves the club – and I wouldn’t ever want to stop being a part of it!”

Mike Ridley poses at a ground