Sporting Snippets - Part 42


Judo success for Nicala

Nicala Clay, now HardingIn 1985 Nicala Clay (now Harding) was a 14 year old who was beginning to make a name for herself in judo as a very keen member of the Neyland Judo Club that was run by Bill McGarvie and his wife Joyce – and it is still going from strength to strength with both still maintaining a real interest now that their son Damon is the top man in their Dojo.

Nicala hailed from Milford Haven and attended the local central school before pursuing a wonderful career in nursing, in which she is still involved at Withybush Hospital even today.

But in those days she had already shown her promise and was on her way to that coveted Black Belt as a great advert for the sport since she was a quiet, gentle girl off the mat but hugely competitive on it.

She featured in our ‘Snippets’ column in the old West Wales Guardian because she had travelled to Crystal Palace for the 44kgs class and came fourth in a big field; just missing out on a medal but showing her potential against the best competitors in her age group.

She was awarded her Welsh Badge, to the delight of her very supportive parents, and her coaches were also highly impressed by the way she fought.

Nicala eventually achieved her Black Belt and no-one could have deserved it more because she was so committed to that aim!


Large numbers involved in local sport

There is inevitably concern in our county that after the lockdown ends there will be a dramatic decrease in participation since sports men and women have found other things to do – but I am still optimistic that not only will there be positive participation figures but perhaps even more folk enjoying some sport or other physical activity.

In 1985 I anticipated that on a given Saturday there were 32 local football league matches so 64 teams and almost 700 players and officials involved, plus youth and junior games aplenty to take it past the four-figure mark.

In rugby I worked out that with 14 first teams, second XVs and youth matches played alongside a large number of age-group fixtures might add up to over 650 players – and then there were loads of athletics, golf, darts, snooker, bowls, squash, badminton, table tennis hockey, netball so I estimated over 3,00 participants taking part each week.

Whilst there might be some who will not want to return, perhaps because of age or a growing family (which have always been the case!), I think there are also lots more activities like sailing, orienteering, coasteering, rock climbing, rowing and lots of others, especially in school where things like dodge ball and fencing can be tried.

People with a disability are now welcomed at sports clubs under the ‘insport’ inclusion programme, with weight and power-lifting becoming more popular alongside swimming gymnastics, dance, archery
I’m sure I have missed some out because there are so many so let’s hope that our sporting activities can be maintained, especially with so many fantastic clubs and facilities up and running – and very eager to welcome people back to join them!

Famous quotes from coaches and captains

Glyndwr RichardsRugby coaches and captains are renowned for their pearls of wisdom in their pre-match pep-talks and one that featured in this column On the 29th March 1985 when a skipper of a small side playing against one of the giants in our county uttered the impressive:

“We’ve just got to keep knocking them down because they’ve only got two pairs of legs like us,” and wondered why his players didn’t seem to be treating his speech as they should!

Others which were then brought to our attention included a football coach in Haverfordwest proudly telling his players:

“Just remember – we are the best ****ing team in this changing room so let’s just get out there and beat ‘em!”

Then there has been the medically incorrect call to arms from another well-known rugby coach who implored his team:

“When we get out there grab them by the scruff of the throat straight away.”

But my favourite came from Glyndwr Richards, the late, great Glyndwr Richards, of Crymych coaching fame.

At a tough training session he ordered his team to, “split into four groups and each form a circle – with a player on each corner as you go through the move!”

Glyndwr was a lovely man and one of the nicest characters I have ever met in local rugby – and his special pearls of wisdom were the only words read out in English at his all-Welsh language funeral that I was honoured to attend!


Danny is full of wise sayings – on and off the field!

Danny ThomasDanny Thomas is president of the Pembrokeshire Football Referees’ Society and was well known for the wit and wisdom he showed to calm things down in matches he reffed that were in danger of erupting.

But he has shown that same way of bringing humour into any conversation at society meetings, and without really meaning to be funny.

I can vouch for this fact because when my family lived in a big old terraced house in Pembroke it was nice to know that Mr T was always nearby to deal with any radiator leaks or other plumbing problems, refusing point-blank to charge me a penny.

I can vividly recall a particular day when the hall radiator had started to drip so I grabbed the phone and told Danny my problem in my most plaintive voice and as always his answer was the same: “Get over here to pick me up and I’ll soon sort it out.”

My wife and I were sitting on the stairs watching an expert at work and Danny and I were discussing some local sports gossip when the name of a well-known sportsman popped up and we agreed that few we knew could match this gentleman for being self-confident.

“He’s OK once you know him,” opined Danny with a dead-straight face, “but he’s got ‘Black Cat Syndrome’.
Of course Mrs Carne had to ask what that meant and Danny answered,

“If you had a black cat he’d have a blacker b***er!”

And we both nearly fell off the stairs because he had summed up the gentleman perfectly, without any hit of nastiness, in his inimitable way!


Mel takes great pics – but is no navigator!

Log on to Pembroke resident Mel Hay’s face book page and you will see the most stunning landscape photographs he has taken around the world – and when I did that this week it brought to mind how Mel used to travel to local sports matches with me and take great action pics, quite voluntarily and with great good humour.

He worked for Texaco in those days and had his leg pulled by some colleagues playing football for New Hedges/Saundersfoot and Pennar Robins at the top of the Pembrokeshire League – after he had promised them he would take some action shots of this titanic clash.

So if Mel toddled to Saundersfoot’s new pavilion, spoke to Ivor Broome and then Adge John, who was managing the second team.

Adge said he was delighted to have his boys having a team photograph but in the ensuing conversation Mel realised that the first team tussle was taking place at Bush Camp, Pembroke Dock!

So off Mel hared to The Dock and got there just in time to take his pics – but not before he had received ‘stick’ from his work mates about leaving it so late!
It is part of his bright personality that he shared their leg-pulling – and I have to say that I remember with great fondness the trips we made as eager amateurs in our local sporting scene!