Sporting Snippets - Part 24

Derek was really in the pink!

The late Derek RobertsOne of the nicest characters in local sport was the late Derek Roberts, who was hugely respected as a football player and then coach – and someone with a smashing sense of humour who loved a bit of fun.

He actually told me this story himself and roared with laughter when I said it was so funny it would have to go in ‘Sporting Snippets’ – and when I asked his wonderful wife Byddug if it was alright to do so she chuckled as well!

Derek Roberts last featured in this column when he travelled to New Zealand and created the myth that he was a great angler as he posed for his photograph alongside a giant marlin, freshly caught – but has been teased recently at the Bridge Meadow Stadium about a recent escapade involving slightly smaller fish this time.

The Haverfordwest County 2nds’ manager is a painter and decorator by trade and he was recently painting the back of his house a nice shade of pink, totally at peace with his world as he stood on a small platform and brushed away. But for some reason he slipped slightly and the tin of pink paint arced nicely over his shoulder and straight as an arrow landed in his recently created goldfish pond.

As quick off the mark as he is, the man known to his players as ‘Rocco’ was unable to stop the paint slowly slurping into the pond but I am relieved to report that he was able to save the poor fish from being changed from goldfish to pink fish! He then had to admit his faux pas to his smashing wife Byddug, who was understandably not best pleased with her old man. There have been several efforts to clean the pond up and I am glad to say that things are returning to normal at their Merlins Bridge home – but any mention of gold fish to Mr Roberts is sure to see him turn a bright shade of pink!

Bernie Armstrong and Bill Carne

Bernie gets his directions wrong

Bernie Armstrong feature as many times in ‘Sporting Snippets’ as most and I was involved in this little saga as I went to watch Swansea City with him and some Goodwick United pals and I said beforehand that something was bound to happen – and of course it did!

Bernie Armstrong is best known as a goal grabber with local teams, including Goodwick United, where he is now the dedicated and effervescent manager – but it seems that his eyesight is not now what it was, although he is eager to hide that fact since he rarely wears his glasses in public.

This had funny implications when he joined three friends (including me!) and son Alistair in travelling to the Liberty Stadium recently to watch Swansea City hammer Preston in an evening floodlit match. It was raining heavily as Bernie took control of the tickets and the lads sought a quick entry into the ground.

            “Look for the North End,” exhorted Bernie, “we are sitting there.”

After passing several entrances and with the prospect of getting even wetter, former fellow goal ace Steve Summers glanced at a ticket and had to point out that the ‘North End’ Bernie was alluding to was Preston NORTH END, the name of the opposition – and the quintet’s seats were back in the West Stand entrances they had already passed twice!

Needless to say, Bernie took some real ‘stick’ from Alistair, Steve and goal keeper Carl Woodhouse about his need to take his glasses everywhere with him in the future. And me? I fully understand about fading eyesight and I was simply glad to get out of the rain - and despite dire threats from Mr Armstrong felt it was my duty to share this light little incident with you!


‘Face Book’ meeting arranged in France

Bruce EvansBruce Evans has always been a good all-round sportsman since his early days in Milford Haven and he stayed in touch with a lot of his former pupils in Haverfordwest as he enjoyed a wonderful life style when he and his family moved to the French countryside. Then he had a visit from three lads from Llangwm – and the peace was a little shattered!

They say that the Face Book web site is an innovative way of keeping in touch with old friends and this little story clearly shows that fact. Tim Parry, George Thomas and Darren John, all Llangwm lads, were  travelling to France for a stag session and decided to use Face Book to contact former teacher Bruce Evans, who retired from teaching and now lives an idyllic life near the Charente/Dordogne border in the heart of rural France.

Being the nice guy that he is, Bruce arranged for a Cornish friend of his named Simon to take them to a Top 14 rugby match where second-placed Bayonne played host to newly-promoted Mont de Marsan, currently in bottom place.

The lads had a great time but Bruce readily admits that when the clock was approaching midnight and they were entering yet another night club he quietly took his leave and went back to his lovely spot in the countryside – leaving Tim, George and Darren delighted to see him and his ensuring they had a rattling good time!


I got it wrong!

I have gently laughed with lovely characters in Pembrokeshire’s Sporting Scene for many years and have always adopted the policy of confessing when I make a mild faux pas – and I made arguably my biggest at one of the excellent Haverfordwest RFC’s revived ‘Pork Supper’ where the girls did a wonderful job with the food, traditionally served by the youth team.

Special guests at Haverfordwest RFC’s traditional ‘Pork Supper’ this year included Ray Williams, former coaching organiser and secretary of the WRU and Johnny Jones, the District H representative on the WRU who does so much for Pembrokeshire Rugby ‘up the line’ – but the chief guest was Derek Quinnell, the former British Lion and Welsh international who is now president of the Scarlets, and who made a cracking speech (one of the three best I have ever heard!) and answered every question with panache.

My role was to be MC and I thought I did a tidy job of including all the top table, mentioning local councillors Charles Davies, Roy Thomas and Peter Lewis, 94 year old former player Ken Howell and then-club officers Brian Stephens and Gareth Griffiths – but blotted my copybook when I lost a little focus and I introduced Mr Quinnell as Ray Gravel, who had passed away two years before that!

Then my old pal Johnnie ‘J.R’ Jones, who was doing a brilliant job as ‘District H’ representative on the WRU added insult to injury when he asked Mr Q if he was anything to do with Llanelli and was told,
“Not much, I’m only the president!”

Needless to say, we both had our legs pulled by all and sundry, which is fair enough – and I am glad to report that Derek Quinnell was fine about our errors, which we both put down to creeping old age!

Johnny Jones

Barry has to climb down over roof painting

Barry EvansBarry Evans is still taking wickets and scoring runs in his role as captain of Carew Cricket Club’s 2nd XI.  He was recently found fast asleep in the upstairs’ changing rooms after a good night in the club but this story revolves around his good intentions many years ago in painting the equipment storage shed – which didn’t turn out quite as he intended!

Barry Evans is best known as a left handed batsman with Carew CC and Eves is a great club man who is always ready to help the club in any way he can. So when the equipment storage shed needed its roof painting then he was the first to volunteer and when he finished his round as a postman one day drove over to the club to do a good job.

He recruited the assistance of fellow first teamer Ceri Brace, whose job was to hold the ladder so that Eves could safely climb onto the roof and he was soon busily painting away. It was only when he finished his work that he realised that he had painted away from the ladder and was standing in the wrong corner to get back to terra firma.

That’s one the trouble started because Ceri, who was then a diminutive 15 year old, was unable to shift the heavy extension ladder and there was no-one else in sight! After a great deal of thought our Barry had a brainwave and sent Ceri across to nearby Kesteven Court and eventually someone came along to move the ladder so that he could dismount.

He had his leg pulled but as Barry pointed out he is a postman and not a painter, and at least he could say that he did a great job – other than for using a bit of common sense at the start!