Sporting Snippets - Part 28

A power three

Brian, Rob and Derek put the world to rights whilst watching The Bluebirds

One of the nicest things I have always enjoyed about watching football at The Bridge Meadow Stadium has been the fact that as well as watching the games there is always someone to have a chat to about football in particular and sport in general.

On one such occasion I bumped in to an unlikely trio in Brian Hawkins, still the Hon Secretary of the Manderwood Pembrokeshire Football League, Rob Summons, the chairman of Haverfordwest County at the time, and the late Derek Roberts, a lovely man who did so much work with The Bluebirds as well as being a very good player and manager with Merlins Bridge.

Rob was unusual in the sense that in his younger days he had been a rugby player and a good cricketer; later chairman and groundsman with Haverfordwest Cricket Club. His appointment at The Bridge Meadow Stadium came almost by accident as he was asked by a friend to pop down there and see if he could offer advice on improving the playing surface, which he did – and with a very short time he was taking over the chairman’s role and running a very tight ship.

The conversation that day revolved around football and the state of the local game and at national level, local politics, the joys of drink and the perils of smoking – and their favourite TV programme of the day. There was also a fair bit of leg-pulling, especially by Mr Roberts, and one or two topics that I couldn’t possibly reveal on a family web-site like this – but it was harmless fun – and I loved it!

Bob and Micky in Wales side


Bob Nelson and Micky Algieri – love their veterans’ football with Wales

One of the big moves forward in Welsh Football has been the growth of veteran’s football tournaments and the way that talented ex-footballers can still keep fairly fit and put their skills to good use at international level against the likes of England.

When Pembrokeshire started a vets’ team it was Bob Nelson who did a lot of the ground work as he gathered a group of like-minded individuals who have done really well ‘up the line’ and rightly earned a reputation of this county being in the top three across South Wales.

One of his eager lieutenants was Micky Algieri, who has rarely missed a match and is still going strong today as someone who doesn’t put on weight and can still keep going all afternoon.

So it was fitting reward for both that after attending trials they were selected for Wales alongside some former pro and semi-pro players in a side that more than held its own against those from across the border.

I was particularly pleased for Micky because he has dual nationality since his parents are Italian, and I had to chuckle when he told me that he was head-hunted by the land of his fathers and had turned down a lucrative deal in the process – and I reached for the salt cellar before saying well done to him and Bob!

Gary Dawes and Malcolm Jones

Gary and ‘Jimmy’ – great ambassadors for football

Much is made in our county about the success of some clubs but sometimes we forget about those behind the scenes who do so much graft as administrators and coaches – and so I love this picture of Gary Dawes and Malcolm ‘Jimmy’ Jones when both had stepped down from excellent playing careers to help Hakin United maintain their proud place in Pembrokeshire Football.

Gary was the captain of the Hakin United squad run so successfully by Chris Tansey that they won seven league titles in a row, Senior Cups and two West Wales Cups – and as manager won a further six league titles, the Senior Cups. He is still rightly proud of the fact that he was instrumental ibn resurrecting the Pembrokeshire team which won the SB Williams Cup twice in three years and had done some brilliant work in bringing together the best veteran footballers under the Hakin United umbrella as one of the top teams in South Wales.

Malcolm was a very creative player with Milford United and Pembroke Borough, playing his first game for The Robins at 16 years and 10 months and holding down a regular place for eight seasons before two at London Road where he played up front with Simon Clark and Benno Jones.
Gary still says that the best thing he did was head-hunt ‘Jimmy’ as his second in command and he told me this week,
“I wasn’t fit to lace his boots as a player and now he carries all my kit bags!”

Hakin United have been lucky to have brilliant managers over the last few decades and this lively pair certainly lived up to that standard!

David Hughes, Mike Evans and AP McCoy

David Hughes and Mike Evans meet AP McCoy

I’d be a liar if I didn’t say how lucky I have been to meet some top sportsmen and women and I’ve had some fantastic trips to special places – and one of those was undoubtedly a trip to Newbury Races with David Hughes and Rob Summons, both good chairman at Haverfordwest County – and we met David’s co-owner of excellent steeplechasers ‘Hills of Arran’ and ‘Hold ‘Em’, in Mike Evans, a top No 8 for many years with Tenby United.

It was an amazing insight into the world of horse-racing as we had passes into the owners’ enclosure and we watched from six feet away Keith Goldsworthy, the local trainer, give instructions to the top jockey AP McCoy about the way he wanted ‘Hills of Arran’ ridden.

The lovely-looking horse started as favourite but only threatened late on once he had too much ground to make up so the ending to the day wasn’t quite a fairy-tale because I lost my daring £5 bet – but I can still recall the tingle as I listened to the conversation between Keith and Mr McCoy, who has since been knighted for his services to horse racing!

Dickie Parry  and Geraint Bowen

Dickie Parry and Geraint Bowen – two wonderful characters!

If I had to nominate my top ten of great characters I have had the pleasure to meet through sport then two of them would undoubtedly be the late Dickie Parry and Welsh international rugby player Geraint Bowen, and I love this picture of the pair of them at The County Show when we bumped into each other at the president’s lunch. Dickie ran the Dyrham Service Station in Robeston Wathen and like a lot of others I used to get petrol there although it was out of my way because it made my day to chat to this larger than life character who sadly passed away too early.

When Narberth joined the National Leagues Dickie was a key figure in recruiting players with his business management skills and he helped with organising sponsorships – and I know from first-hand the way he helped sports clubs with sponsorship which helped keep them afloat.

Geraint was the very first player that Colin Kaijaks and I photographed at The Observatory Field in Milford Haven when we started out a joint venture at the old ‘West Wales Guardian’ and we remain firm friends today – and I was totally honoured when I was invited to the function where he finally, and deservedly, received his Welsh cap after playing at full back in Canada.

He and his wife Sian held the presentation at Narberth RFC and raised £1,200 on the night for the Pembrokeshire Friends of Prostate Cymru which I was proud to receive on behalf of the charity.

I can safely say that I am very grateful for meeting with these two terrific people!