Charles steps down after 36 years service to Pembrokeshire rugby!

Charles DaviesIt’s the end of an era for the Pembroke and District Rugby Union following confirmation that Charles Davies, who has served nobly as secretary since 1984, has stepped down.

At the union’s virtual AGM last night Davies, who gave notice in late 2019 that he would only be serving for one more year, welcomed Whitland RFC stalwart Suzanne Davies in as his replacement.

She will become just the third secretary to serve since the Second World War, with Glyn Morgan serving for almost four decades himself prior to Davies doing his 36 year stint.

Steve Holmes (Chairman), Brian Davies (President), and Delyth Summons (Treasurer) will all continue in their current roles.

“I’ve done enough time now,” he told yesterday.

“I had already informed my colleagues that I wouldn’t be seeking re-election but I’ve loved doing it – and I hope now Suzanne enjoys herself as much as I did.”

And he was keen to praise those who had helped him along the way.

“I’ve worked with some great people and I was lucky with the District H reps as well. From Osmond John, who went on to become President of the WRU, to Glyn Cook, to Johnny Jones and then Gordon Eynon, they’ve all given me excellent direction and liaised well with the clubs.”

An immense contribution

Davies, who turns 88 in December, will be lauded for the hard work and loyalty he’s given the union these past 36 years and rightly so.

His role hasn’t always been an easy one, and inevitably there have difficult times and occasional critics, but those in the know will appreciate his contribution.

And of course, things are very different now compared to when first he stepped through the door.

When Davies started his stint, the PDRU were in charge of both the old Pembrokeshire League and Cup competitions. That all changed when divisions were nationalised under the WRU, and while Davies and co have continued to run the old KO Cup every season, they’ve had to overcome some challenging times.

In days gone by, the final would boast mass interest and huge attendances. The fluctuating standards of teams, and the dominance of Narberth and Whitland in the early part of the century, saw a drop off as sides began to regularly give walkovers.

Davies persisted though, and in recent years statistics of completed games, plus interest in the competition, has begun to rise again. Albeit without the involvement of The Otters.

“Once the Pembrokeshire League set up finished it was harder to organise cup fixtures as we didn’t have the power to set dates,” he admitted.

“Narberth also became so powerful and for a period Whitland were as well which I think held clubs back – and some weren’t keen to play given they felt they had little chance of winning it.

 “But there are clubs I have to take my hat off to as well. The likes of St Davids and Llangwm have not had great results but have always been keen to take part.

“We’ve been supported by some really good sponsors in the last few years which has helped keep things going and the competition has started to improve again.”

Darren Salmon and Charles Davies

Memories made

The contribution Davies has made to local rugby does of course, extend beyond the PDRU.

He also played for both Haverfordwest and Pembrokeshire, as well as for his regiment in Oswestry. He was also secretary of the Blues for more than two decades.

Indeed, it was the club’s old pitch on Fishguard Road, which set the scene for one of his most memorable days in the oval ball game.

In 1983 Davies was instrumental in Haverfordwest hosting a fixture between the senior county side and Japan, a game Pembrokeshire famously won.

“I have so many stories from the build up to that day,” he recalled.

“I remember ringing the Japanese embassy to ask them to send me a welcome message for to put up in the club.

“After I copied it out and pinned it up all the boys were shocked and asked me how I knew what it meant, and I persuaded them that I could speak fluent Japanese but had kept it a secret.

“That backfired a few days later when two Japanese reporters turned up at the club and I was sent out to do the interview. Luckily, they could speak perfect English but from afar, everyone assumed I was speaking their language.

“But when the big day came it was special. Special ties were made afterwards to commemorate the match and it’s remarkable to think it happened.”

No slowing down

Despite being 87, up until recently Davies was still running marathons, and although lockdown measures have forced a temporary closure, is regularly seen on the treadmills at Haverfordwest Leisure Centre.

But from now on, when it comes to local rugby he will enjoy from afar, or he will do when it finally gets going again anyway.

“Being involved in rugby, both during and after playing, has taken me to a lot of places and I’ve enjoyed all of it.

“It has been a pleasure to be involved.”

Many would say it has been a pleasure to have him involved as well. A dignified, hard- working volunteer who has dedicated ample amounts of time to the local game.

Individuals like Davies often go under appreciated. But it’s such contributions that keep the grassroots game alive.

Davies will however, be relieved to avoid adapting to one recent change.

“The AGM had to be done via Zoom this week.

“Luckily my granddaughter was there to help me out as I didn’t fancy that.”

Charles Davies presenting a cheque to Prostate Cymru