Mike Griffiths former rugby star - and third-teamer with Neyland Cricket Club

Around The Boundary Feature:

Mike GriffithsOne of the nice things about walking around the boundary ropes at cricket matches in our county is you never know quite who you are going to meet – and last week I was lucky to bump into Mike Griffiths, who rugby followers of a certain age will remember playing at scrum half for his home town of Neyland and then with Bridgend and Llanelli at the top level of Welsh Rugby, followed by a very successful spell at Tenby United before returning to his home town.
Mike would say from the outset that the pinnacle of his cricketing career was to play for the Neyland Thirds team alongside Alec Day, Raymond Laugharne and some other genuine characters under the guidance of Kenny Platten and he told us that whilst he is still keeps fit as a cyclist now at 58 years young he still enjoys the odd walk up to the Athletic Ground to sit and watch the current Neyland cricket team do so well.

Used his initiative and it paid off

On a personal note, it was a pleasure to teach Mike at the old Milford Haven School where it was evident from an early age that he was going to continue the family name as a very good rugby player who looked on the big side for a scrum half but once he had the ball in his hand he was dynamite with his upper body strength, good pass and the ability to spot a gap or force his way through tackles.
When he started to play senior rugby he decided to apply for a trial with Bridgend, then one of the top five teams in Wales, and when he didn’t get a letter back he just turned up and asked to be given a chance.
They agreed and when he was told he was to go on they thought he was a number 8 – but soon changed their mind as he twice burst from the base of scrums to score tries, linked well between forwards and backs – and impressed so much that he was a Bridgend player from then on and the fairy story began.

Bus trips to watch Mike at the Brewery Field were fantastic value

One of the most memorable moments for me during his time at The Brewery Field was the fact that his dad Dennis and mum @@@, who were well-known bakers at the time, used to organise a bus for home games so I used to rush home from school and then get back to the Silcox Bus Depot in Pembroke Dock to be picked up.
The company of characters like Mike Hughes, Harry Howells and Charlie Harris was brilliant but even better was the fact that for the princely sum of £2 we had as many sandwiches, pies, pasties and cakes, straight from the bakery, that we could eat en route, with the chance to tuck again in on the journey home!
We thrilled to Mike’s brilliant performances and cracking tries, often from close range but also solo efforts with his ability to spot a gap and slip through it.

Joined Llanelli and played against The All Blacks

Mike was eventually persuaded to join Llanelli, prior to them becoming The Scarlets, where he competed against Welsh international Rupert Moon – although we joined others at Stradey Park who felt that Mike might not talk as much as the other No 9 but was the more complete scrum half!
One of the highlights during his time there was to be chosen to represent The Scarlets against the touring New Zealand side and Mike played well against The All Blacks, giving 100% as he always did.

Served Tenby and the county well

Another good time for Mike came when he returned to the county to play for Tenby United in the newly-formed national Leagues and and during his spell there he helped The Seasiders to two successive promotions as he played at half back alongside Ben Childs, with other Tenby characters like the Evans brothers; Chris, Mike and Karl; Eddie Lewis, Colwyn Harts, Johnny Richards and Gareth Thomas, to name but a few.
He is also rightly proud of his representation for the Pembrokeshire team which was coached by Trevor James – and he played against the full American touring side which came to Wales and although they lost it was a smashing occasion.

And finally . . .

Outside of his rugby, Mike has always tried to keep fit and regularly cycles, which he loves doing around the county’s back lanes. He says he is not one to cycle all day but loves a couple of hours on his bike before he returns home.
He also pops up to Neyland Cricket Club to watch whenever he can and it was a smashing way to pass an hour with someone who you would expect to see watching rugby but there he was, enjoying the game of cricket and I certainly enjoyed my time on the boundary with a top pupil from Milford Central School and still my old pal Mike Griffiths!