Around Touchline - William John loves his rugby - and his photography

William John in action 


Around the Touchline Feature:

Rugby supporters who have watched matches at Haverfordwest might see a gentleman armed with a camera taking pictures of the action as The Blues take on other clubs, with the same sometimes happening at other clubs he visits, like Neyland or Llangwm.
That same rugby lover sometimes travels to away games and is a regular photographer when Haverfordwest Ladies take the field - and one of his proudest moments came when he was official photographer for them when they won silverware at The Millennium Stadium last season, especially since his grand-daughter was playing, but more of that later.
That gent is William John, who lives in Llangwm and sometimes presents pictures under the pseudonym ‘Man From Llangwm’, and we are delighted to receive them throughout the season because he really does capture the pace and commitment of players for others to enjoy.
He is a self-confessed lover of sport in general but it is rugby in particular he loves taking photographs of and regularly provides, free of charge, images for anyone who sees themselves in a picture and would like a reminder.

Early start at Haverfordwest Sec Mod and then Neyland in senior rugby

William looking smart at the Welsh Sports AwardsHis interest in the oval-ball game started when he was a nipper in Johnston and attended the old Haverfordwest Secondary Modern School and played prop alongside Keith Fleming, Robert Hitchings, Phil Scurlock and Robert Ridge, as well as representing the county on a number of occasions.
“Quite a few of my team mates in school played youth rugby for Neyland and so I went there with them and played in a team that included talented players like Peter Roberts and Trevor James - but in the final year they had a bit of a job turning out a regular team and I found myself helping out in the seconds, which certainly wasn’t easy.
“I even played some games in the first team but I was working for the Summons’ Family at Hayston Farm, near Johnston, and as time went on I had a bit of frustration because five weeks on the trot I turned out in the firsts after being selected for the seconds but someone dropped out.
“On one occasion the call came so late that I was actually changed and in the warm-up for the seconds in Haverfordwest when the call came to go back to the Athletic Ground to help out - and I wasn’t too happy about that!”

Work forced a halt for a while but then he played at Pill Parks

But then William had to stop playing after getting married to Dorothy and having to work long hours in the construction industry, often on weekends, and although he watched whenever time allowed he was in his early 30s and living in Llangwm, so he joined them.
“I played mainly in the Wasps’ seconds but turned out a couple of times in Boxing Day local derbies - and there was a real camaraderie because players rarely moved from club to club and we spent all Saturday evening together in the clubhouse, often until the early hours.”

Joined a rugby choir – and they sang at The Millennium Stadium!

William played until he was about 36 but again work intervened - although in 2008 he got involved in a different aspect of sport as he joined a choir centred on Parc y Scarlets as The Scarlets joined groups from The Ospreys, Dragons, Cardiff Blues and North Wales in singing at The Millennium Stadium!
“I was watching S4C when there was an advert to join a newly-formed choir and on impulse I applied, along with my daughter Helen and we were both chosen in a group of 120 which was soon reduced to 80.
“The criteria was that you didn’t have to speak Welsh, loved rugby and never sang before - and I fitted all three categories - and although it meant travelling to Llanelli once a week we really enjoyed it - and when they formed a single ‘elite group’ from the four areas Helen was chosen for that, too, and entitled her to a free trip to the Dubai Sevens.
“We did it for six years and I was memorable, if a bit nerve-wracking, to walk out onto the hallowed turf at our national stadium.”

William shares a pint with grandson Thomas Carrington


Family Matters . . .

On the subject of family, William is very quick to sing the praises for the way that Dorothy has provided unwavering support, whilst both daughters, Helen and Gaynor have been involved in sport, as have their four grandchildren.
Helen has become an accomplished power lifter, amazingly after a late start, whilst Gaynor has been hugely involved in short-mat and green bowling, as have her children James and Sara John-Davies.
Helen’s children, Emily and Thomas, have been heavily involved in rugby at Haverfordwest, with Emily now one of the longest-serving players with the Blues’ Ladies and was part of their campaign that took them to victory in the Welsh Bowl Final, and Thomas as a regular in the first team set-up.

A new camera – and a joy in taking rugby pics

“I’ve always had a camera for family snaps and saw an advert for a new range and decided to go for one with a range of lenses so that I could take action pics of the kids in sport - and that started my going to watch the ladies’ team, which I’ve done ever since then.
“It was a wonderful day out for me when Emily and Co reached the final because I was nominated as their official photographer, which meant I had to wear an official tabard and so I had unlimited access along the touchline.
“The girls played out of their skins to win and I was really made a part of the celebrations, which was nice, to say the least.”

Now retired – and more photography calls!

William has been involved in photography now for a decade, but especially so over the last five years, and now that he has retired from work in the heavy construction industry he is thinking about going on a specialist course for photography that will allow him to make even better use of his Lumix G90 camera and his range of lenses.
That may well be the case but from’s point of view we can only say that we are immensely grateful for his generosity in regularly providing us with quality images that enhance our provision as the best coverers of rugby in our county.
It is also a pleasure to bump into William around the touchline, or sitting in the stand at Haverfordwest Rugby Club, where he is held in high regard by players, officials and supporters alike.
We always have a good chat and some humour in our conversation - and we count ourselves as lucky to have met William John around the rugby touchline because ‘Man from Llangwm’ is a genuinely nice character of the game!

William watches on the bank with daughter Helen and grandson Thomas