Micky Ellis - player, coach and gentleman!

Micky Ellis Ask footballers of a certain age these days to nominate the top ten players they had played with or against and it is a fair bet that featuring fairly highly in most of their choices would be Micky Ellis.
Micky has been involved in the game, whether playing or coaching in this county, for nigh on 50 years and has been acknowledged as a very skilful player, a thinking coach – and a gentleman on and off the field.

Heavily involved and an ‘A’ Licence coach

He is still heavily involved in the game as coach at Haverfordwest County, where he hopes to start his 23rd campaign at the Bridge Meadow Stadium when The Bluebirds fly into the Welsh Premier League for 2020/21 when football finally gets under way again.
Micky is rightly proud of the fact that for a number of years he was the only EUFA ‘A’ Licenced coach in Pembrokeshire and is understandably delighted by the number of former youth players who were coached by him and the late, great Derek Roberts and eventually played Welsh Premier or Welsh League Football for the club.

Very early start to a long playing career

Micky started out when he used to watch his late dad Gus play for Pembroke Borough, with Ferry trips from Neyland to Pembroke Dock as an added part of the adventure – but there was little junior football in Haverfordwest, other than odd friendly matches organised by the late Hughie Phillips and Don Twigg.
As a pupil at Barn Street VC School there were a few games organised by the late Len Barrah, the headmaster, and the late Mr Ivor Price – and he joined the likes there of Anthony Griffiths, Nicky Smith, Alan Cunningham, Robbie O’Rourke and Mark Falzon as key players.
He tried to emulate Gus by playing in goal but in one match, when the team were leading 20-0 at half time, he asked if he could swap positions and scored three goals in a 41-1 victory – and he was scoring goals throughout his long career!

Hat-trick debut for The Wizards first team

When he was 18 Micky made his senior debut for Merlins Bridge and after a few games in the seconds found himself in the firsts against New Hedges/Saundersfoot.
“I must admit I was nervous,” Micky told us, “but we won 7-3 and I scored a hat-trick.
“We came runners-up the league that season and beat Kilgetty 2-1 in the Senior Cup Final - and it was great to play alongside great characters in Macky Bowen, Tally John, Dekker Thomas, Derek Roberts, Mario Rabaiotti, Rob Taylor, Roy Fairhurst and Eric James.”

Wayne Jones and Micky EllisFive great years at London Road

The following season Micky was invited by Des Shanklin to play for Pembroke Borough and was there for five seasons.

“We had some great times and one of the highlights came when we played a very strong Swansea Town (as it was known in those days) and drew 3-3 at The Vetch Field against a team that included Glan Letheren in goal and a young Dean Saunders up front.
“Our team included local players like Mark Ashman, Martin Cole, Steve Callan, Simon Clarke and Gerald Hicks – and I managed to score two goals.

Injuries hinder his play – and back to a depleted Bridge

“It really was a high-quality league that as well as Swansea and Cardiff City there was Newport County, Barry Town and Merthyr Tydfil – and the only reason I left was that I sustained a nasty cartilage injury that kept me out for a while.
“It was an awful time but Glan Phillips, the consultant orthopaedic surgeon, did really well to patch me up so well that I went to Milford United and Haverfordwest County for a while but I wasn’t comfortable and I decided it was time to go back to The Wizards.
But Micky soon found out that it wasn’t quite the right time to go back because a load of quality players when he turned up for a meeting there were only four players there – but Dave Edwards led the way and they decided they had to battle on and all of them had to take on a job, with Micky finding himself as Hon Secretary. His wife Veronica also played a key part with her total support, even washing the kit when necessary, which was a pretty mucky job!

But good players return to the fold

Micky Ellis and Alan ThomasIt was a happy Mr Ellis who soon saw other former players coming back into the fold and it turned out to be a special season because they gained promotion back to the first division and completed a rare double indeed as they also won the Senior Cup Final.
“We won the Senior Cup against Goodwick United over three matches, the first was drawn at the Bridge Meadow, the next two were held at Marble Hall, Milford Haven, we also drew the second match which was halted by heavy fog, when we went back again made it third time lucky as goals by myself, Gordon Thomas and Dekker Thomas gave us a 3-2 win.”
There were lots of other successes for that great Bridge side and he also played regularly for the Pembrokeshire League team that won the SB Williams Cup against the Carmarthenshire, Swansea and Neath Leagues.

Eddie sets him on the road to coaching

“Then I took charge of the team and Eddie Oliver coaxed me to go for my coaching badges and after quickly being awarded my Leaders’ Badge I set out to gain my ‘B’ Licence by attending six consecutive Sundays at the Fobell Centre in Aberdare, travelling up with my friends Derek Roberts and Dekker Thomas for practical and theoretical sessions that we were tested on.
“But if I thought that was tough the qualification for my ‘A’ Licence was far more testing in terms of intensity as we went for several weekend courses in Aberystwyth and then going back to the town’s university for a week’s residential course.
“There were plenty of professional coaches from English clubs there and it was highly intensive, with loads of practical sessions throughout each day, all with built-in testing,
The theory sessions took place after our evening meal, again all rigorously tested, and on the final day we were interviews, asked loads of questions about what we had learned – and had to show we could put the work into coaching good practice.
“But it was very worthwhile and nice to be amongst the first batch of successful coaches to qualify for our ‘A’ Licences.

A phone call brings a new challenge

Micky Ellis surveys his shot at the 17thIn 1998 Micky received a call from Barry Vaughan, the secretary of Haverfordwest County, about a new role as a Development Officer to young local talent and it didn’t take Micky long to accept – and 22 years later he is hugely involved at the club.
“Derek Roberts and I took charge of the club’s second string as well as the youth team and we encouraged youngsters to play at senior level as we moved from division three to division one in three seasons – and we also reached the Senior Cup Final.
“It was going well before it was decided to scrap the seconds and focus on Welsh League football but during our time we have seen near 100 players in the 22 years, including the likes of Lee Hudgell, Simon Gilderdale, Gregg Walters and Tom Billings.
“In the current squad there are Ricky Watts, Ben Fawcett, Jack Wilson and Jack Britton all flying the flag, with others knocking at the door thanks to the good work of Steve Batty, Ceri Phillips, Harry Thomas and others”

Still as busy as ever at The Bridge Meadow

Back with his current first-team duties, Micky is always very busy on match days as he sets out the kit and helps with pre-match training, especially with regard to warming up the goalkeepers as he tests them with crosses from his still-trusty left boot.
“I just enjoy being involved and before now I’ve even been known to clean out the changing rooms – and one of my other jobs that no-one else seems to want, and that is changing the bulbs on the floodlights. John Roberts uses his awareness of height gained in the Fire Service and I shut my eyes until it is time to hand John the powerful bulb!”
Even during the lockdown Micky has still been involved at The Bridge Meadow because he has been working on the pitch, using the skills he learned over many years at The Rhos Garden Centre.

Many managers in his time – and sad moments

Inevitably, Micky has seen managers come and go but he is too polite to rank them in any order, insisting he got on well with all of them!

“Wayne Jones is doing a great job and Mark Murison will fit in well – and I think one of my key roles is keeping Wayne calm for 90+ minutes because he is a teeny-weeny bit volatile,” admits Micky with a hint of understatement!
“I’ve got on really well with them all but two special coaches for me were Deryn Brace and Derek Brazil, both ex-professional players and great characters.”
There have inevitably down-beat moments in such a long stay, not least the untimely death of his footballing soul-mate Derek Roberts, and the illness to Ronnie Beynon which put football into perspective for him.

And finally . . .

“I’m really looking forward to next season in the Premier League, with Robert Phillips coming in as chairman after David Hughes has done such a brilliant job.
“We have a number of new players already signed and all I can guarantee is to give my 100% commitment to my club, as I’ve always tried to do.”
It almost goes without saying that everyone at The Bridge Meadow Stadium, including players, management and supporters, regard Micky as an integral part of the Haverfordwest County set-up – and a great example of total dedication to a footballing cause!