Dr Richard Thompson is providing great help at the Bridge Meadow Stadium

Richard ThompsonRichard Thompson is perhaps best known in Pembrokeshire as a GP at the St Thomas Surgery in Haverfordwest but as well as being heavily involved in dealing with patients there he has also been the Honorary Medical Officer with Haverfordwest County for some six years.

This key role has certainly doubled in importance over recent weeks as he has been even busier at the Bridge Meadow Stadium with hon secretary Julie Le-Grice in making sure that everyone there is closely following the regulations set out by The Football Association of Wales and keeping them safe during the current pandemic.

It is also worth recording the fact that Richard is a useful athlete in his own right, enjoying his running over challenging distances, fell running and hill walking, as well as swimming and long distance cycling – but more of that later.

Supported Stanley Matthews’ club – and ‘tapped up’ to join The Bluebirds

He has enjoyed his football since his childhood in the Blackpool area and it was natural to support the town’s football team made famous by Stanley Matthews and Stan Mortenson – and he also followed son Finn when he set out as a junior with Prendergast Villa and enjoyed it there, as he did at Camrose, where he also played senior football and helped them gain promotion to division two.

Richard started his role with The Bluebirds when Barry Vaughan, who was then the club secretary, attended an appointment at St Thomas Surgery and afterwards mentioned that the club was looking for a new medical officer since Mr Glan Phillips, the orthopaedic surgeon at Withybush Hospital, was going to step down.

Barry asked his GP if he was interested in becoming involved and after giving it some thought Richard agreed to start, especially since he had previously undertaken some study at Bath University with Sports Medicine.

Dr Richard ThompsonA warm welcome at The Bridge Meadow Stadium

“I must say that I was made very welcome by Rob Summons and all the rest from the outset and to be fair no-one mentioned the big pair of medical shoes I was going to fill – and at the start of the next campaign my initial job was to check the medical well-being of the first-team squad.

“Since then I have also attended as many matches as I could as good physios like John Roberts, Ryan Evans and now Ben Ventura Mesquito were also available for the squad – and my involvement concerned off-field support for injured players, assessment of injuries and even the crowd if anything happened there, working closely with David Hughes as chairman”

Other sports and leisure activities

Outside of his involvement with Haverfordwest County it is fair to say that Richard enjoys looking after his own fitness levels too, with lots of challenges like taking part in long-distance running events.

His daughter Caitlin follows him and Finn into this sort of interest as she also loves running, swimming, cycling and triathlon.

Richard likes fell running and has taken part in ‘The Beast’ and ‘Beast Bach’ runs, the former across 26 miles of The Preseli Hills and the latter a little less daunting – and hill walking is another growing interest in areas like the Snowdonia ‘1000- metre mountain tops’ of Glyder Fach, Glyder Fawr, Carnedd Dafydd, Carnedd Llewelyn and the summit of Snowdon itself.

Then there’s cycling distances of 50 to 80 kilometres as another tester and on top of that Richard also enjoys his swimming!

Considerable changes brought about by the pandemic . . .

Back at the Bridge Meadow Stadium, things have changed considerably since the arrival of Covid 19 because the FAW have been ultra-cautious and provided rigorous guidance for medical officers at clubs to follow.
“With Julie, I have been attending training sessions which started out with a first phase where small groups of no more than five players worked with a coach – and with absolutely no contact.

“This was followed by a second phase involving larger groups but again with no contact and then phase three where some contact was permitted.

. . . But everyone working together

“Players had to arrive ready kitted-out prior to having their temperature checked by me and then filling out a form with Julie which assessed the risks to them and their families as they travelled from as far afield as Merthyr, Cambrian and Clydach, Swansea and Carmarthen.

“She is doing a great job and I must say that Wayne Jones, Mark Murison and the playing staff have also taken the regular checks very seriously too.”

Richard also had a short chat with the players on that first session where he outlined the risks but he has also to talk to the players about taking care with medicines that might not meet with the requirements of playing in the Welsh Premier League,

“They also have to be warned about the dangers of taking drugs for performance enhancement or for recreational purposes because at their level of play they face spot checks by drug officers.”

High praise from David Hughes – but richly deserved!

Chat to Richard for a short while and it is clear that he takes his responsibilities clearly so it is good to report that he is held in high regard at Haverfordwest County.

Ex-chairman David Hughes, who is still heavily involved, told us,

“‘Diamond’ is the word that quickly springs to mind when one talks about Richard and we are so lucky to have him involved as our medical officer – a genuine football fan and especially with regard to this club.

“He is very much an unsung hero who freely gives hours of his time and he is hugely respected by all at Haverfordwest County AFC.”

High praise indeed from someone who knows what goes on at the club and we at PembrokeshireSport.co.uk can only the echo his sentiments because we have seen the commitment shown at The Bridge Meadow Stadium by Dr Richard Thompson!

Dr Richard Thompson and Miles John