Simon selects a powerful pack and slick backs in his own 'Select XV'

 Simon EdwardsWhen we decided to ask someone from Pembroke RFC to compile the ‘Best XV’ players he had ever played against we had several likely long-serving candidates but in the final analysis we chose Simon Edwards, who typifies the spirit and depth of rugby knowledge at Crickmarren.
He was club captain for a record-breaking seven seasons with The Scarlets, split into three and four year stints.
“I enjoyed every moment and it was also great to represent Pembrokeshire for over 20 matches as I played alongside some cracking players for some very experienced coaches.”

Early start – and a late finish!

He made his first team debut at 18 and was a regular until his mid-30s so he clearly knows his stuff.
“Indeed, I played my final match for the firsts when I was 40 and coaching the second team, when I received a last-minute call to help a depleted first XV who travelling to Llanybydder for a Welsh Cup game.
“They had just won promotion and so the TV cameras were there to show the trophy presentation and highlights from the match – and afterwards I knew that there was no way I was ever playing for the first team again!”

“Not an easy task – but here goes!”

When we approached Simon he was happy to select a team from across the county but admitted afterwards that it was far more difficult than he ever thought likely.
“For some positions there were players who later went on to play for Wales and others who were back playing in the county after competing at higher levels but in the final analysis I just went with my gut feeling and apologise in advance to some cracking opponents that I missed out.
“There were also some of my own team-mates I would have liked to include but Mr Carne, in his best teacher mode, made it clear from the outset it wasn’t an option!

Walshie made me look daft!

“There have been some terrific full backs like Geraint Bowen and Andrew Phillips from Narberth, with Geraint a match winner and hugely competitive opponent and Andrew having one of the biggest boots on him that I can remember. But I had to go with Kevin Walsh, who was mercurial in the No 15 shirt for Haverfordwest and made me look a complete fool in one match as I thought I was ready to smash him over but he stopped dead in his tracks and left me falling in a heap and clutching at an empty space!”

Bags of three-quarter talent in Pembrokeshire

Colin Phillips“It was a similar story on the right wing where Nigel Griffiths (Haverfordwest), Wayne Proctor, Lee Scourfield and Colin Phillips all came into contention. I only played briefly against Wayne before he went off to Llanelli and Wales, Nigel was the best taker of chances and I think Lee could have gone further than The Quins. But I picked Colin Phillips, who was outstanding with Cardigan then, because he was so tricky, had bags of pace and that tough streak in him that made him a dangerous opponent who could run in tries with ease.
Dominic Setaro“I only came up against Peter Morgan and Andrew Morgan for just a short while and I thought Roy Davies was an excellent centre for The Quins after he switched from football so for me the main man in the No 13 shirt was Whitland’s Dominic Setaro, who was an all-round class act and could turn defence into attack as quickly as anyone I know.
“His centre partner for me would be Martin ‘Ted’ Tamilia, who was a Scott Gibbs-type player with his low centre of gravity and willingness to run straight at you. Pushing him all the way would be Whitland’s Frank Setaro, who perhaps had more flair but I went for a bull-dozer instead!
“The left wing slot was the easiest choice for me because there was only one choice as a player who always seemed to score against us, whoever he was playing for at the time! Steve Hartland was big, strong and direct, with plenty of pace and an eye for a gap – and a hell of a character too!

Neyland half backs might surprise some folk

Phil SuttonMathew WilliamsOf my choices at outside half there is no doubt that Ben Childs would feature in most players’ considerations because he controlled games with ease and was a great all-round player, whilst Robert ‘Dobbie Jones’ was a strong runner with Cardigan and had a kick like a mule. But my final choice would be Phil Sutton when he was with Neyland he was also good tactically but was a silky runner who could put others into space after completely wrong-footing opposing back rows.
Wearing the number nine shirt would be a straight choice between two more Neyland players in Mike Griffiths and Mathew Williams, with John Morgan (Milford Haven) another I had in the mix. I didn’t see much of Mike as a player and I go for Mathew because he was a nightmare to play against with strength and raw power alongside a combative edge – and if he was playing you would certainly hear as well as see him!

Tight head – loose head? Can’t remember who was which!

“I have to confess that I’m no expert on what goes on in the front row but I have come up against some mighty scrummagers who could also carry the ball well and at loose head there were great characters like John ‘Hogg’ Davies (Whitland) and big Jack Dudley (St Davids) who were terrific players but My choice has to be Mark Truslove (Cardigan) who was so strong in the scrums but amazing in the close exchanges with his ability to rip the ball clear – we nicknamed him ‘The JCB’ because of his upper body strength!
“I found hookers were always confrontational and that was certainly the case in my top three of Kevin Phillips (Cardigan, Neath and Wales), Steve Gerrard (Narberth and Whitland) and Derek Burton (Cardigan). Kevin moved on to his glory days so he was only briefly on my radar but we hated his tapped penalty charges, whilst Derek was another juggernaut player we hated playing against. But ‘Jed’ was not only abrasive, confrontational and a real ‘dog’ but he was also very clever at what he did!
“It’s a similar story at tight head, where Ricky Evans (Cardigan) was capped for Wales so I didn’t see much of him and Derek Coles (Haverfordwest) was so strong but my first choice has to be Colin Morshead (Whitland), who was a hard man who played with a power above his size but was also a cracking ball carrier.

Steve Gerrard

Second rows – a bustling lock and a gentle giant!

Lenny ScourfieldAt No 4 my choice would be Lenny Scourfield (The Quins) because he always led by example and won good lineout ball. He never missed a match and was totally uncompromising as he loved taking on the opposition by carrying the ball. Coming close behind was Dai Perkins (Narberth), another uncompromising and hard man who was a real character and I enjoyed playing alongside him for the county.
Also in the second row would be Dai Bennett (St Davids) because he was so awkward to play against and could be guaranteed to win good lineout ball. He was another county regular and seemed to have telescopic arms that reached the ball. Also in contention were two great Tenby stalwarts in Andy Rose and Peter Kidney, both terrific in the linesout but also good in close exchanges.

A varied back row, with just the right balance!

Now to the back row and at No 6 Keith Fleming (Haverfordwest) was the pick of a talented bunch. He was a hell of a man as a nasty blighter on the pitch but a great guy off it, and had everything you needed in his rugby DNA to be an outstanding blind-side flanker. Others are thought fitted the bill were Steve Vickery (Tenby) and Ian ‘Gwangie’ Thomas, who could have played for several other sides but always stayed loyal to Llangwm.
It was a similar story at open-side flanker with far too many to name here. Steve Warlow was a cracking player at Milford Haven but I would have to pick Randal Evans (Haverfordwest) who was always in the thick of things, especially at the breakdown, was an excellent ball-carrier, had good hands and seemed to lift others.
Now comes the slot where I had most of my battles against the likes of Richard Thomas (Haverfordwest), Andrew ‘Bob’ Williams (Neyland) and Paul Rogers (The Quins), who were all top men in their clubs’ battle plans. But I have to go for Mike Evans (Tenby), who was good at his game and had the added dimension of being a non-stop talker to referees. He was a real influence and I would have to pick him as captain despite the fact that I hated the sound of his voice when we had our battles!