Brymbo Legends Interviews
Born and bred in Ruthin where I lived less than 50 yards (through a hole in the hedge) from the Memorial Playing Fields where the town’s cricket and football clubs both played. I was footy mad. But I started taking more interest in the beautiful game in my teens when my elder brother Andy, a left arm nippy seamer, broke into the Ruthin 1st XI as well as Denbighshire Colts. Watching him, as well as the brilliant John Hughes before him, inspired me to start flinging the red pebble around too. I played a few seasons in a very strong Ruthin side before making the move to Brymbo at the start of my 20s.
Best player ever played with and against:
With: Nigel Roberts. Not ‘just’ a hugely talented batting powerhouse but his all-round cricketing ability was immense. He could turn games with bat or ball, often both, irrespective of the strength of opposition.
Against: The purist in me says David Jones of Marchwiel for all the obvious reasons. The competitor says Kevin Owen (NH), for his all-round ability, gritty self-belief and that moustache.
Steve ‘Creepy’ Crawley merits a mention, but he was a ‘pro’.
Easy one. Alan Jones, Brymbo CC. Great man AJ but a brilliant cricketer with it. His invite to join BCC didn’t require much deliberation. His team and player management were spot on. He could read a game like a book he’d written. His field placings were just magnets for aspiring sloggers. He’d work a batsman out within the over but didn’t mind a little ‘tap’ as he knew the wicket was coming. He kept me calm and focused (most of the time).
With: Nigel Owen, BCC. Bowled opposite some good ‘uns but Nigel was worth the entrance money. He could toy with batsmen and literally land it on a sixpence. Funny man too … “Keep him in, keep him in!”
Against: The Bowler’s Club was strong then. Marchwiel’s Arwel Morris and Keith Rockstar were quality. Kev Owen and Nigel Morris (at Mold). Rhys ‘Flame’ at Pontblyddyn and Johnny Griff at Denbigh.
With: Russ ‘Shambles’ Penrhyn and John ‘Swangman’ Eds (both Ruthin and BCC) bent it like Beckham but I’m not convinced either knew exactly how they did it? Ross, Mark and Bryan (BCC) could all make it talk too.
Against: Arry Morris could seam, swing and zip it about but I’ve got to say that Glyn ‘Gibbo’ Gibbons (Colwyn Bay) was top drawer too with a great skill set and the ability to mix seam and swing to maximum effect.
With: Don’t profess to know much about the slow stuff but I’ll say Alan just edges it over Nige, probably because more fell into my buckets off AJ, although that fast arm ball off Nigel was a shocker to every unsuspecting batsman. Jeff Roach was very capable too and it was quite handy that his name was over the door at The Five Crosses.
Against: Didn’t face many as I didn’t bat much? Johnny Bell and his leggy’s were always puzzling. He was a great cricketer too! But Ian Rowlands (Marchwiel/ex Northop Hall) was a fine spinner, great cricketer and top bloke. Oh and for the record, Glenn Chambers’ claim that he bowled me through my legs at RCC with a Shane Warne miracle ball is inaccurate.
With: David Williams (Gresford, Brymbo, Glamorgan).
Lightning! Quickest quick thing out of Quickville.
Against: Some nippy bowlers then; Steve Burkhill, Ian Carson and Creepy Crawley was no slouch. But Dai ‘Bounce’ (above) traumatising a whole Ruthin Sunday team of young lads, including me and Penrhyn, tearing down the Gresford hill remains vivid to this day! Shocking shambles!
With: Nigel Roberts edges out Mark Jones for me. Mark was pure class. Those effortless cover drives for 4 were sublime. But Nigel had the full repertoire with power to spare. He would just build his innings how he wanted it. It didn’t really matter what the bowlers intended. He could even bat RH! To say one edges out the other is testament to both in my opinion.
Against: I’m inclined not to single anyone out. Lots of guys were top batters in those Competition days. Trefor Roberts, David Jones and Steve Crawley all at Marchwiel. Paul Higginson (NH), Andy Puddle and Ali Pitman (CB), Tim Evans (Mochdre), Richard Lloyd Jones (Bangor), Matty Needham (CQ), Kevin Owen (NH), John Gower and Rich Sullivan (Ruthin). Great players, I could go on.
With: Phil Lloyd (BCC). Brymbo’s Adam Gilchrist. Superb hands, great motivator, master tactician, quality bat. Byes were not an option so you’d be ‘encouraged’ to straighten your line. PCL’s brilliant understanding with both Alan and Nigel reaped rewards with so many wickets.
Against: Chris Eds (Marchwiel) was quality as was Brian Williams (Mold).
Most players in those halcyon days were classed as batsman or bowler but not both. But there were individuals who excelled at both ‘arts’ worthy of a mention. With, as already mentioned, Nigel, Dave W, Ross and Mark at BCC. Most notable opposition exponents; Chris Rowley and Glyn Gibbons (CB), Kevin Owen (NH), Russ Penrhyn (RCC), Glenn Chambers and Phil Snell (Pont), Gaz Davies (Mochdre) and Steve Crawley (Marchwiel). All regularly in both runs and wickets. Special mention here too for Phil Leeds and his incredible service to Dolgellau CC. Leeds the Legend represented Wales at the cancelled Over50 WC in SA this year.
The Big Hitter:
Nigel Roberts smashed it at will but his ‘little’ brother just edges it. Impossible to bowl at on his day. On one occasion, an important Welsh Cup match at home, we were up against it and had just lost quick wickets. Ross is limbering up in front of Alan in the changing room when there’s a rattle. AJ says, “head down and do your best Ross, we need you now.” Ross replies as he’s walking out the door, “6 first ball Al?” AJ had his back to the game. Ross takes quick guard, one look around and the bowler runs in. RR launches it like an exocet over the pavilion and AJ looks at me and says, “what’s happened?” My reply, “search party to find that Al!” AJ just eyerolled and shook his head. Ross won the game. Mercurial talent.
John Shone (Brymbo). Great cricketer and top bloke. Talk the hind legs off a herd of Blackpool donkeys but his contribution was always 100%. Mr Dependable.
Lots to mention. PC Lloyd obviously. Opening bowlers needed great slips and I was blessed. Nigel and Ross (who at times was able to chest it up then snatch it!), Stew Williams and the great Stu Mason. Mark Jones wherever he was fielding dropped nowt. Russ Penners and Gaz Davies great hands too.
Distance and power, Ross. In close and accuracy, Mark. Both arrow straight.
My own wasn’t too shabby but I preferred to keep a little in reserve in case called upon for another exhausting spell and for the glass lifting after.
Mark Jones at BCC and David Jones at Marchwiel were exceptional. But Gareth Davies (Mochdre/DCCC) was like a decathlete on a cricket field. Energy to burn, a great all-rounder and a smashing lad.
Best No 11:
Nigel Owen (BCC). He rarely wielded the willow and if he did, the ‘plan’ was awry. But it was quality when he was out in the middle, pure entertainment.
Ross Roberts. No surprise. RR’s character and wit were indeed infectious. But it wasn’t just ‘larking about’ either. Every team needs someone with the ability to cut tension and at the same time boost morale and team spirit. Ross did that with ease and passion, but he was hilarious with it. That early hours game of ‘Jacks’ at the famous Crown & Sceptre Hotel in Taunton on the Somerset tour with Ross in charge was momentous and a real stepping-stone in my ‘development’. Thanks to all those who carried me upstairs!
I could say ‘Needham’ but if I don’t add the name Ricky, Nebo will think it’s him. A one-off occasion that. Scott Hookey was ‘challenging’ too. But pro’s aside, I’m gonna say Andy Puddle, who always had my respect.
To want to play the game it would be watching my brother and John Hughes bowling for Ruthin. To be able to take part though, without my parents, Anne and George, it would have been difficult in the early years travelling to BCC. I must express my gratitude to Alan Jones here too for having faith in me and giving me the chance at Brymbo. I’m sure any BCC player would say he inspired them too.
Proudest Cricketing Achievement:
If ever you get to represent your country at any sport, it’s an honour. Playing for Wales vs the MCC in Kent was indeed that. But the pride I felt playing for one of the strongest and most successful sides in Wales with Brymbo CC was immense. What a team of talented individuals and what a privilege!
Best Innings (most memorable):
Facing Dave Williams at Gresford was certainly ‘memorable’. But the one that sticks is when Ruthin beat Marchwiel away and I closed my end up for many overs with only 9 while Rich Sullivan won the game the other end, stroking 70 odd, despite being shelled and struck by Richie Gibson’s meteors.
Favourite Bowling Spell:
Best figures are the 8 for 19 against a decent Mold side for Ruthin. Penrhyn stopped me getting all 10 by chuckin’ pies and getting 2 at the other end. 7 for 30 odd vs Llanrwst when the bail went for 6 too. But my fave was the 5 for 8 for Denbighshire CCC vs the SWCA at Usk(?) in 1990. They were strong with ex Glam/2nds players but the conditions were great that day and they were ducking and diving. It was nice bowling to 5 slips and 2 gullies!
Hardly ever got the opportunity to swing the wood and show my prowess. If ever I got out there when Mark, Nige, Stew and Shoney had stopped hoggin’ it, I’d be happy to walk off if I’d thumped a maximum and upset the bowler. I do seem to remember getting 90 odd at NH with Kev Owen and his pet moustache at the other end on 150 odd but that was a friendly knockabout.
Stand Out Memories:
The Welsh Cup victories (including getting left behind in Swansea), the numerous NW Comp titles, the various knockout trophies were all memorable. But to play both club and inter-county cricket during an era when the standard was so high and all teams brimmed with local talent is one to cherish in itself. Great, great days.
Longest In The Shower:
When I first arrived at Brymbo, I was ‘tipped off’ about a certain individual and post-match freshening up. So there I am covered in Vosene suds when Ross saunters in, towel over his shoulder. Weeell, good heavens. Incredible. I’d never seen such an extensive range of male-grooming products. He had them all. I quickly left, he was in there ages.
I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention. Being far too polite and sporting at times when I should have shown my teeth and displayed a little more aggression. LOL. Seriously, none. The majority of games were played in great spirit at an exceptional standard. The post-match pavilion analyses and shenanigans established friendships with countless top blokes who I still communicate with to this day. My cricketing ‘career’ ended prematurely but I’m not sure how long I could have continued with the injuries I had.
Owen Hughes at Ruthin, or my pal ‘the Hippy’ as I affectionately call him. He’s 50 odd now, but if he keeps at it he’ll be a half decent pie-chucker one day.
Three most important qualities that make a cricketer stand out:
1.Belief. Self-confidence is your best weapon. You are better than him.
2. Competitiveness. You play to win, every time. That old “it’s the taking part that counts” chestnut is nonsense. If you don’t play hard, go home.
3.Talent. Ability wins the day. Keep watching what the best players do and up your game accordingly.