SPORT-WALES HOME - RUGBY RELICS HOME
Welcome to the story of my life, it's had it's ups and downs, please read on................................
Life began in 1960, I was born in Neath hospital but my parents (David senior & Marion) lived in Sandfields, Port Talbot, There was no maternity ward in the hospital at Port Talbot so we were carted off to the great City of Neath for our entrance into the big wide world. It's a good job really as I was to find out later in life all my family hail from Neath. It was just that Mam and Dad lived in Port Talbot-by-Sea while Dad worked at the steel works. Not a bad decision on their part, living in Port Talbot and growing up on the Sandfields Estate was like growing up in the world's largest Butlins Camp, masses and masses of kids, everywhere you looked, and all nice playful characters too ! I'm XX years old now and it's been a long and sometimes winding road to get here and it still winding it's way along. If you read below you see a few of the bends, hills and corners that I've taken during my life and sporting career, I hope you enjoy the diary, although I'm known for telling some of the tallest stories in the world, this diary is to the best of my knowledge true. My memory is not the best, at the end you'll find a list of the people I've known which is how you may have found this page in the first place, if your missing please email me, it would be great to catch up.
|First memories................ are dad picking us up (I have two sisters Anne & Barbara, 12 & 9 years older than me) from church in his new car, a red Vauxhall Velox, registration number JBW 243, this I believe was about 1964 and we still had it about 10 years later. It was one of those machines that went on forever with a bench seat in the front. While I was small I used to sit between mum and Dad in the front, no safety belts, don't think dad ever crashed the car, he was a great driver. I went to Fitzclarence Presbyterian church, Western Avenue, we usually went 3 times on Sunday, my other mates at the time were John Tetsil (Noj), Ian Jones (Junto), Jeremy Isaac (Jesse) Andrew Paddison (Paddy) & Jonathan Steed. My first school was Tirmorfa in Marine Drive, the first teacher I can remember was Mrs Llewellyn.|
|1963/4||Family legend has it that on a holiday to Devon we all went to see an athletics meeting in Plymouth, after one of the races had finished I run onto the track and started running after Bruce Tulloh, I was only 3 or 4 at the time but have no recollections of this. Another story from about this time was that I climbed out onto the windowsill of my first floor bedroom and mum grabbed me before I fell or jumped.|
1966 - My first sporting memories go back this
far. My dad or Bert Bamsey (next door) used to take us to the Afan Lido Sports
Centre (click here for my Lido memories) where Keith
Bamsey, his brother Brian and I, used to take part in judo.
Alan Petherbridge was the instructor at first followed by Bobby Sullivan (Bonnie
Tyler's husband & judo legend, both these early instructors were olympians,
I think Bobby was the first 7th dan black belt outside of Japan or something to
that effect), I think it was he who coined my first nickname
“Smiler” which I carried during my first spell at judo. Judo was something I
did on and off for 6 years not a sport at which I excelled but I swear it
saved my life in 1976 when I crashed into a car at the bottom of Church Hill in
Baglan doing about 40 miles an hour on my bike. When I eventually hit the floor
I landed on my shoulder rather than my bonce (head), an automatic breakfall was in
progress. Co-incidentally the car I crashed into was being driven by
George Edwards, one
of the managers at the Afan Lido. Weird
1967 - I taught myself to swim at the Afan Lido,
went swimming every day during the summer holidays and by the time they finished
I could swim about 20 metres unaided. Frequented Tirmorfa Junior School in
Sandfields for my education, one day, I believe it was the first year of
primary, Mr Thomas told us a story about Bombo, he was a little boy in Africa
and he lived in a mud hut by a river. I was rivetted, wanted to know all about
Bombo, so I put my hand up and asked when we were going to visit him. Mr Thomas
said that it was only a story in a book and that we weren’t really going, I
curled up and died, when I woke up it was nearly 1968 and I was still doing judo
although not very well.
1968 - I was alive and well and 8 years old. My
teacher (Scarface) hated my guts, I sat on a table in school where three of us had
been born on the same day (Keith Matthews & Linda Matthews, not twins or
related). I played my first football match for Bay View Under
13s, against Abercregan in the
|1969||1969 - I’ve got a feeling that for a short time I was a member of Port Talbot Harriers. Some guy called Derek Edwards who was in Keith Bamsey’s class took me down to one of their training sessions. I remember doing an 800 mts and finishing about 5th out of about 8, I wasn’t first and I wasn’t last, just somewhere in the middle. This was the year that I got my first stitches. Cut my hand with an axe doing Bob-a-Job with cubs (4 stitches), a piano fell on my foot while we were moving it at church, this was painful and I had 7 stitches put in my bloody foot with no anaesthetic, It was hard in them days. Got another 3 stitches in the back of my leg sliding down the banister in Tirmorfa school. Also had my first filling and you should have seen the state of the haircuts my mother gave me. I played a couple of games of rugby on the wing for the school side, scored a try against our arch rivals Towyn, but was then dropped. On the whole though 1969 was not a good year.|
1970 - I remember at the age of 10, sitting in
the classroom at Sunday school in
1971 - We moved to Baglan, I joined Baglan Boys
Club, the best team in
Had Buster my dog for Xmas, a black and white Beagle.
1972 - I won the school cross-country and beat all
the best 'known' runners in the school. I didn’t know there was a difference between sprinters and
distance runners, this I was to find out in later years. I thought no more about running. They took the “Bars”
away in school after someone fell off and broke their arm. Playtime was devoted to “Dab” with a tennis ball, throwing a
ball against a wall and catching it before it bounced 4 times. There was a drainpipe in the middle of the wall and if you hit
this the ball would normally go off at a strange angle and more often than not the next thrower was out. Suffered quite a lot of
overuse injuries on the shoulder but honed my throwing skills to near perfection. This came in
handy when about 4 years later at the carnival in BP Llandarcy I won 4 coconuts
in 4 throws on the “Coconut Shy”. Asked Jacqui Jones out, took me about 3 weeks to
pluck up the courage, she became my first girlfriend. Joined Aberavon swimming
club for a short while. I think I went a few times but I wasn't very good !
1973 - I started playing football again with local
side Ty-Canol. On my debut I didn't know I needed a pair of shorts, these had
always been provided in previous teams. I played the whole match in purple corduroy
trousers, they were seriously tight and I could hardly move, but I scored a goal
from the half way line and we won 1-0. It must have been a great goal, they've built a car park
where that pitch was in memory of it. Had trials for the town football team,
didn't get in. Played about 4
games of rugby at full back for the school until Peter Hillan (a giant then) ran
straight through me to score the only try in our loss against our closest rivals St Joseph’s. I was replaced after that game, never to
don the school rugby jersey again. I won the school cross-country again and the
gymnastics competition. Finished 5th in the town schools cross country at Cymmer
Afan. Think this was the year when I started playing badminton with my mate Mark
Harris (Parky) at BP Llandarcy. Playtime at school was spent playing “kick the
tennis ball” or “pass the tin” (touch rugby with an empty coke can). I
bought my first season ticket with Neath RFC and followed them religiously.
(Illustration - Glanafan Comprehensive School rugby team 1973 - I'm second from right in the back row, just behind our headmaster 'Basher'
1974 - At the age of 14 I was still playing
badminton and started to play squash during games and on Saturday’s in BP. Got
to the final of the school tennis tournament playing doubles with Parky. Lost to
James Matthews and Ian Gibbs who didn’t go on to careers in professional
tennis. Had a season ticket for Neath and followed them religiously. Started
|1975||1975 - Took my dog Buster everywhere, became known occasionally as “Dai Dog” but mostly went under the nickname of Daio. Played a little badminton & squash. Had a season ticket for Neath and followed them religiously.|
1976 - O levels, finished them early and had 13
weeks off in the longest and hottest summer on record, I spent it on the beach, played
badminton for British Steel Co. Had a season ticket for Neath and followed them
1977 - Started work with Andrew Scott Civil
Engineers as a Wages Clerk. Played football occasionally on a dinner time, at
this time I learned the benefits of 'drafting' or 'slipstreaming' as I rode back
and fore to work on my Sun GT 10 XL racing machine, chasing buses back &
fore to work. I used to wear shirts that a real person wouldn’t be seen dead
in. Went to watch punk bands in Cardiff (Jam, Boomtown Rats, Clash, XTC, etc)
discovered drinking beer in pubs. Still playing badminton seriously and squash,
not so seriously. Took part in a “Construction Industry Supersports”
competition, missed a penalty against Phil Parkes the old QPR goalkeeper in the
five-a-side, eventually we won the competition and won an all expenses weekend to Berlin
which was still behind the wall. Had a season ticket for Neath and
followed them religiously
(Illustration - Scott's Construction Supersports team, l to right - Hairy Dai, Brian Kelly, Phil 'Pancho' Phillips, Terry Ayres)
1978 - Fed up with watching Neath, I wanted to
do something on a Saturday afternoon, started rugby refereeing, had no guidance
to speak of. Chucked in at the deep end, my first match was to be Pontrhydyfen v
Green Stars. Declined this wisely, then spend 6 months watching my back as a
referee before playing for Baglan Youth one day because they were short. Found
that I wasn’t that bad at it, packed in refereeing and played some more.
Developed first as a useless second-row, then moved to scrum half, dabbled as an outside half and finally ended up as
a full back. I could kick and catch the ball quite well, knock over a penalties from the
half way line and could kick with both feet. From memory I only tried one
conversion with my left foot, it was from the right touchline and I hit the
post. Still playing badminton for British Steel and playing a little squash.
Started playing cricket for Baglan 2nds.
(Illustration - Baglan CC tour to Blackpool 1978 - I'm in front with the long hair)
1979 - Stayed on in youth rugby an extra year (I
was a late developer) dislocated shoulder in crunch tackle in local derby
against Cwmafan. We won the game 6-3 (my penalty and drop goal). Had 8 weeks
off, came back and dislocated my shoulder again and again and again. Played cricket in summer, had an average of 63 for the season.
That’s how many runs I scored all season but was only out once. Had bowling
figures in one match of 5 for 22 in the midweek league but never really bowled
or batted regularly. Took part in Afan Lido Superstars competition, finished 2nd
in mile race, won the football penalties, lost the rugby penalties, lying in
second place until the gym tests. Didn’t bother to attempt the Bench Press,
finished half way down the field.
(Illustration top Baglan Youth team - Below - pictured in Baglan Sevens who beat Aberavon in local Sevens tournament, I was sub)
1980 - Early in
1980 I was called up
to play for Baglan 1st team and commanded a regular place until the end of the season as
a non-tackling full back. I must have impressed because I was then picked for Aberavon District
JRU at senior level at full back. Played this one match for the district then retired to wait
for operation on shoulder. I’d have never made to the big time at rugby but I
think that I was good enough to have the occasional game with Neath or Aberavon
when they were short, I was always on standby for any team that needed a player,
in fact I had a season playing for the local police side who needed a regular
scrum half. Expected to be back playing
within 12 months. Started playing football again in September, just a
season while I was waiting for the operation. Played for Baglan 2nds in Div 2 of
the Port Talbot League. John Sullivan was our manager. He's a great guy, his final words
before kick off were always “And don’t forget, Enjoy it”, I never said
'thank you' to John for his wonderful coaching so if anyone knows him, pass it
on please. When soccer
matches were called off with bad weather etc. I’d make my way to Baglan RFC
for a game with the seconds but was regularly press-ganged into playing for
Briton Ferry Steel who met in the pub 100 yds before Baglan RFC. Packed in work,
played loads of squash, bit of badminton, spent a lot of time in the Afan Lido.
A big thanks to the instructors and managers there who 'nearly' always made me feel at home. Alan Rees, Nigel Rees, Derek Jones, Druid and not forgetting the late great Richie Noblett.
(Illustration top Baglan team prior to cup final victory over Pontrhydyfen, - Below - Baglan on tour in Spain, club record score against a local Spanish side, can't remember if I scored but Steve 'Chinky' Lewis scored 8 tries)
1981 - My second season with Baglan Boys Club
and I started playing “up front” for the Labour Club on Sundays. You weren’t
allowed to play in the Saturday and Sunday Leagues simultaneously but I had a
different name and address with my photo on the registration card so I got away with it for a
season. Still waiting for the shoulder op. Offered the chance to play outside
half regular for Baglan 1sts, the year they won the Welsh Brewers Cup on Cardiff
Arms Park . Kicked myself hard for not accepting but the shoulder would never
have stood a full season. Played squash and badminton.
(Illustration - Baglan Boys Club 2nd team)
1982 - Played soccer again for Baglan Boys
Club. (scored 17 goals from midfield in 82/3 season - remember the one where I
turned on the edge of the box and placed it in the top corner with my left foot
- OK you were looking the other way, pay attention next time.............please,
but more often than not it was a case of being in the right place
at the right time for a gentle tap in. Still waiting for that operation, still playing
football. Moved to play for Oystercatcher in Swansea in the Sunday League.
Playing squash and badminton regularly. Moved down to a flat in Pentwyn, Baglan.
Started running, did my first race, the Swansea Bay 10k in September, finished
in 35.36. Second race was the Afan Half Marathon (1.16.??), I got hooked.
Playing squash mostly in Cwmafan, won the handicap tournament, fancy giving me
that many points head start, God was smiling at me. Packed in football at the
end of the season to concentrate on the running and squash.
1983 - Squash started come nicely, played
a couple of games for Afan Lido B (won a match against a Swansea University player 9-0,
9-0, 9-0) and played one for Afan Lido A in Division One of the Welsh League, I lost
this one. Did a canoeing course (tutored by Russell Scaplehorn) in the Afan Lido/Bristol Channel, £1 a week for
6 weeks, I could paddle well by the time it was finished. Running was going
well, selected to represent West Glam in the Inter counties, won the 1500 mts at
the Dole Olympics in 4.20, shown winning the race on BBC Wales doing a Mike
Channon celebration as I crossed the line. We also won, football, table tennis, squash and hockey. I’d
assembled a team of ex pro and Welsh League footballers. The standard of
competition was good, there were a lot of people on the dole. Classy fields in
every competition. Colin Jackson finished 3rd in the 100 mts, my man Chris
Connolly was first
in 11.00 secs. Finished high up in the West Glam Cross Country leagues. Heard
about triathlon, (10.4.83 – wrote in diary “Have been thinking about
triathlons, Will have to find some dates for the events”.) bought a new bike,
started swimming more. By the end of 1983 I
was swimming up to 1 width breaststroke for every 6 widths front crawl. Picked up my
first running injury (knees). Parents moved to Neath so I had to cycle more to get fed
regularly and have my washing done. Had Glandular Fever in May which completely
wrecked my athletic year.
(Illustrations - Dole Olympics - on the podium with my dad's vest on, 1983 was a long hot summer and I spent most of it on the beach, pictured here on the left with from left to right Bryan 'Charlie' Cokely, Robin 'Oz' turner & Dai Daycock)
1984 - had operation on shoulder, Won my first
road race (Ynys Park Trust Fun Run). Moved to Neath. Played No 1 for Neath C
squash team, lost my first match then went remainder of season unbeaten,
dropping only one game in the process. The crunch match was the last game of the
seaon against Woodlands, Clydach, I was up against the fellow that beat me in
the first match, I stormed it 3-0, we were promoted champions. Started racing
regularly. Did my first “Round the Pier Race” finished 18th, Harry Worth hit
me with the rescue boat, thanks Harry. Still thinking about triathlons. Oooooh !
we like the sound of them.
(Illustration - Ynys Park report - PT Guardian, shaved head - I wasn't happy with myself after walking part of the Swansea bay 10k and finishing in a PW of 39 minutes so off came the hair)
1985 - Got married, started family, all within 6
months, no hanging about there, got a job, didn't like my job, won the county
athletics 5000 mts championship, offered No 2 in Neath Squash 'A' team, started
specialising in steeplechase on the track. Transferred from Neath to Swansea Leisure
Centre in squash, cos that's where my job was, played No 1 for the ‘A’ side. Had my bike stolen and
broke the strings on my squash racquet on the same evening, something had to go,
gave up squash bought a new bike, had it 2 days before my first triathlon or my
first triathlon wouldn’t have been my first triathlon. The Pen-y-Bont Ironman,
finished 9th. Joined the Territorial Army. Laurie was born on 18th October, 1985
was a busy year.
(Illustration - West Glamorgan 'Dole Olympics' team 1986)
1986 - Second year in triathlon, already
committed myself to the sport. I started to do cyclo-cross with a view to
improving my bike to run transition. I figured if you were getting off your bike
and running it could only be good. Finished 4th in my first race at Morfa. I was
astonished to find that in my second race they announced the Welsh team, only
I’d just beaten half of them on a road bike with slick tyres. I won my first
cross in the Rhondda during this year as well as winning 7 running races, it was
a good year, I became a racing machine. Did my first marathon at Colchester,
finished 8th overall, 2nd in TA champs. Did my 2nd
3rd & 4th triathlons. Second in the Pontardawe Tinman to Richard
Morris one of the early stars of triathlon. Third in Blaenavon in front of Jon
Ashby, soon to be British International (pre age grouper days).
(Illustrations - Territorial Army Marathon Champions - 223 sqn RCT, Jeff Rees, Me & Doug Johnson //// my second cyclo-cross in Seven Sisters. //// One of my early cross events at Hirwaun, this course on an old coal tip was to prove an unlucky one over the years with a puncture in this particular race whilst leading future British Mountain bike champion Tim Davies. The following year I took a tumble requiring 28 stitches, 23 in my leg, 5 in my arm. //// - early results including first Cyclo Cross win in the Rhondda)
During the Hirwaun race I punctured and struggled to change my wheel at the 'pits' 'whilst effing & blinding over my bad luck and the inability to change my wheel fast enough, what I thought was a member of the public gave me a hand, helpful bloke I thought and didn't pick my head up to say thank you etc. On finishing the race, I noticed my Dad, he rarely came to watch me (I told him he made me nervous), I'd explained how well I was going until I had the puncture, he explained that he'd seen it and had also helped me to change my wheel !!!! - ooops dad was a regular church goer !!!!!
Tough life !!!!!!! - you've got to take your hat off to the older generation, those that fought in the war etc. My Dad served in the forces the whole of the second world war from the age of 18 to 23. While I was bumming around on the dole at this age, deciding what the hell I'd like to do in my life, my Dad was fighting for his life and our freedom. He didn't say a lot about the war, he started off in the RAF and graduated to 'Combined Operations' as a commado. The two stories he did tell me were
1. - He was in a group who were captured by the Germans in the desert in North Africa. the Germans were marching them across the desert when a British fighter plane came across them and started to fire on them. Dad says that the British ran towards the plane and the Germans ran away from it, they escaped !!!! yipeeeeee !!!
2. When he was in Italy towards the end of the war him and a mate were clearing a town, making it safe for the troops to enter, they tactically entered an old church in the town and as they entered the main area of the church 200 Italians put their hands up and surrendered to them.
1987 - January 1987 saw me compete for Wales at
cyclo cross (life ambition number 1 put to bed). The event was in January, the
Tuesday prior I had been playing 5-a-side football and was chopped from behind
landing on my knee. During the cross international I took a fall and landed on
exactly the same spot as on the Tuesday, serious knee problems. Spent the
majority of this year on the “critical mental list”. Mountain bikes arrived
from America “Now I’d be good at that, gis a go”. Vicky
was born on 28th November.
(Illustration - I was a seriously scary soldier, Laurie & Vicky with my parents)
1988 - Mr Schmoo (Hero No 1) got fed up with me
nagging him in his shop and gave me a place on his mountain bike team with a
Jeff Bruce mountain bike to play with. We spent the summer travelling to
competitions all over Britain. I found myself in pink and yellow for the first
time. The years with Schmoo were great, good team mates, good bikes, excellent
back up. I had 5 years with Schmoo as a sponsored rider. He was “Simply The
Best”. Got injured towards the end of the year so played 5 or 6 games of rugby
as outside half for my territorial army unit 4RRW. Scored the first try in the
first ever victory over local rivals, the Cardiff based 3rd Battalion Royal
Regiment of Wales.
(Illustration - match report of TA match where the 'star' outside half converts his own try')
This is me winning my first multi-sport race at Llanelli in 1989. Llanelli has been a happy hunting ground for me over the years !. Captured on camera is that magic moment I've grown to love, the victory salute, a moment to savour !!!!! But before the salute you have the last mile of the race, you are leading and you know you should win, but what if ? What if something goes wrong !!!!! This last mile is a mixed bag of emotions, there's sheer euphoria at the impending win, but then again, what if something goes wrong ? you must concentrate, concentrate, concentrate - you keep telling yourself 'concentrate, concentrate, concentrate', all the way to the to the line. Then you arrive at the finish. at the moment the arms go into the air at the finish line for the double arm winners salute, if you study the picture and the others of me winning races you'll notice there is no smile or grin. (I'd yet to coin the saying 'Grin when you win' ) For me this moment is more often than not "relief". You've achieved what you came to achieve, all those hours, all the pain and time spent training, the preparation, the race effort, it's an intense introspective feeling, one I find difficult to describe. It's over................. I done it !
1989 - The first year I hit some serious form in Multisport. This was the year I walked into Schmoo’s shop one day and Graham Rogerson had just resigned/packed from the staff. I inherited his Jeff Bruce road bike (2012 note - the parts are still on my race bike and working like a dream) and his Roberts mountain bike. Now I had some serious equipment to work with. Winning became a lot easier. I flew the Bynea & Ammanford biathlons (£100 prize in both), won cyclo crosses, running races and finished 2nd to Bill Pegler the world veteran triathlon champion in the Hereford Triathlon because I put a pair of socks on and lost by 17 seconds. The last time I wore a pair of socks in a sprint tri.
Brisco 10k Gorseinon, a boiling hot day, pulled back Paul Miller's 100 metre lead after about 3 miles.
My first photo shoot with a Mountain Bike magazine for Schmoos, this was to become a regular occurrence over the next couple of years as Mr Schmoo's team gained major publicity with the distinctive pink & yellow race kit
Picture number 1 - Middle picture - Receiving the folding stuff from my hero Mr Schmoo & Picture No 3 - Newspaper report on this win plus winning a cyclo cross a week later
At the Welsh Open Champs in Abergavenny, I finished in 6th place, the leading Welsh rider, an awesome course that went on forever. The saving factor for me in this race was Schmoo handing out fingers of fudge and jelly snakes when the going got tough.
Radical Riverrun - this time a photo shoot for Mountain Biking UK in the Neath Valley, pictured second from right. (2013 note - this spot is now just a 20 minute run away from the house)
1990 - A new decade, new year's day saw us
winning one of those 'wacky races' the Mumbles RFC Wheelbarrow race. I won the Llanelli Duathlon again, but
this time more convincingly. Won my first triathlon at Pen-y-Bont. Founded, together with
Schmoo, Schmoo's Cycles Triathlon Club (took on role of secretary). But this was
the year of the cattle grid, I slipped and bruised my knee prior to a mountain
bike race only two weeks before the Commonwealth Games Trial at Excalibur. I
missed the trial and missed out on the Games. Something I’ll never forget,
every time I see a cattle grid, I'm reminded of this.
Got divorced, promised myself a trip to NZ to see what I missed out on. Met Hayley.
Another win at Llanelli - this time the finish line is the gates of Stradey Park, race organiser Lincoln Law in the background
Illustrations - Started the decade with a most unusual victory at a wheelbarrow race in Mumbles, a 2 mile race with 3 in a team, one member had to be sitting in the barrow, we covered the distance in 12 minutes, 6 minute miling, not bad pushing a barrow as well, Jeff Jones at the back sat in the barrow all the way, he was absolutely freezing by the time we finished ///// pictured with 2nd place ash tray at the Maesteg Triathlon //// Mountain Biking UK feature on "The Schmoo Effect" /////// Last 200 mts before winning Pen-y-Bont Ironman ///// Race report for victories at P-y-B & Hereford ////// Picture from Cycling Weekly racing in the Man v Horse v Bike Classic and yes I was taking a push ///// At the waterfalls in Glynneath again, this time photo-shoot for SW Evening Post /////// Schmoos v MyCycles, another MBUK feature //////
National MTB event in Plymouth (I think I finished 8th) - this was a particularly nasty downhill
1991 - Things started to come together with the fitness, won a stage in the castles
relay, had some also rans in duathlons, more mountain biking. Won four
triathlons, Dyfed (at Carmarthen ), Pen-y-Bont, Hereford & TA Champs (1st in
a run of 4, I was never beaten by another TA soldier in these championships). Mervyn Lloyd (Hero No 2) joined
the 4RRW. Things started to look up with the TA’s, Mervyn liked the running
team and supported our efforts. Founded Rugby Relics.
Dale was born on 20th June.15th September was a sad day, Dad had a heart attack and passed away aged 69. We never got to say to goodbye to him.
Dad passed away 15th September 1991
|Cyclo Cross victory at Hirwaun, Western Mail report||Dyfed Open (Carmarthen) Triathlon, WTA Newsletter race report||Bynea Biathlon report||Magazine article on race tactics, photo shoot on Kilvey Hill, pictured top left & middle of 3 yellow jersey riders|
The winning team left to right Mad, Shy & The Lune - Welsh 1000s 1992 - coming down the Water Board Road after the Carneddau.
My first full length Welsh 1000s and I got it right, cracking the Ghurkhas and the 3rd Battalion on the middle group (just below the Glyders). I ran Snowdon on my own finishing comfortably ahead, A big win for me in a big year. This was the year I made my first trip to New Zealand, after missing out on the Commonwealth Games and going through a divorce I promised myself a trip down under. What an awesome place, what a great people. I arrived in NZ with 3 weeks to rent a car, buy a canoe, recce the course and take part in the famous Speights Coast to Coast. There are two races, the one day 'World Championship' and the two day leisurely stroll across the country. I was doing the leisurely stroll and was fortunate that the weather turned nasty on the first day swelling the river to massive proportions, the kayak section was cancelled and the 50 miles were added to the second day cycle, making it a total of 120 miles on the bike. Starting in the eleventh groups of 10 from Klondyke corner I managed to pass 99 of the 100 competitors in front finishing second on the beach and third overall in this my first overseas competition. It was on this trip that I realised I could compete on the world stage and started planning a big effort to try and become World Veteran Champion when I turned 40, This was my Life Ambition No 2. The countdown begins. 8 years to go. In November I ran the New York Marathon, finishing in 2 hours 41 mins.
|(Illustrations - Off to NZ for the Coast to Coast - 2 day on the bike - being presented with 3rd place medal - post trip report - Dragons Magazine article on Rugby Relics - New York Marathon poster - Neath Half Marathon Race Report - running for 4th Battalion Royal Regt of Wales in Newbridge half marathon - Newspaper Reports for first victory in the Welsh 1000s - running in the Swansea Duathlon - Front and back page of the Western Mail on the same day - they offered me a column but I turned it down !!!!|
1993 - This was a good
year. A 5-week trip to
was great for the fitness but the competitions
were a nightmare. First I double punctured on the 1 day Coast to Coast leaving
me 10 minutes behind the lead group on the run over the mountains, with no one
to follow I suffered on the route choice. If that wasn’t bad enough I decided
there and then that I needed to go home with something, so a fortnight later I
entered the Auckland Ironman hoping to break the then Welsh record of 10.04
becoming the first Welshman to break 10 hours. Things were going swimmingly, 70
miles into the cycle I was 20 minutes ahead of schedule then psssssssssssssss,
down the tyre goes again. There’s an old army saying called the 7 P’s…..
“Proper Planning and Preparation Prevent Piss Poor Performance”. Who was it
that forgot to pack the adaptor for the Specialized Tri Spoke, yours truly. Goodbye record.
On my return I bought my Zipp wheels, won the Worcester & Hereford Duathlons, pulling back Chris Ray (British Ironman Champ) on the Hereford Du and
bogeyman Phil Kibble was third. Not a bad result considering I’d done 110
miles on the bike in the previous two days, plus some swimming and running. One
of my most satisfying victories. Selected to represent
Later on in this year I reached my peak of fitness. This came in a week when on the Saturday I won the Welsh 1000s very easily and 4 days on the following Wednesday I finished 4th in the Army Triathlon Championships, winning the TA title for the 3rd year in succession. The legs were absolutely shot to pieces but I still managed to finish the Olympic distance in less than 2 hours.
Winning the Lichfield Half Marathon 1993. The team crossing the line together. This is one of the greatest moments so far in my short and dull life. As young Jeffrey in the middle said "the hairs on the back of my neck were standing on end", the three of us had won team events before but this is one of two occasions where we crossed in front 'team together'. At 6 miles in this race there were 6 of us, the three others were from an elite forces team, who shall remain nameless. Mike Cherrington, far right said, "c,mon let's go", we surged togteher, off we went and dropped the other guys, just like that, 7 miles to go, we finished in 1:12:11 'team together'. Thanks to Bazza Smith who looked after us, kept us all together and took the photograph, what a man. When speaking about this moment many years later Bazza quoted that we were making a statement:
"There are no winners here, we are a team"..........
and we were !
Illustrations - Top Man Bazza Smith - pre Coast to Coast report - paddling an Evolution down the Waimakariri - me and my mate Judkins - Coast to Coast poster - Worcester & Hereford Duathlons report - it's the 1000s again, this time we've got matching kit - at half way only a couple of Gurkas in front - post 1000s race report.
Illustrations - winning age group in Fairford Duathlon - Mountain Running selection hits the press - in Welsh kit with Francis Gill - winning the first Dyfed Open Triathlon for the second time - results - British Champs, Swindon Triathlon - Race report, winning 10k, in 29:30, a PB
1994 - I struggled for a
lot this year with injuries. Managed selection for the GB Age Group Triathlon
Champs in . Simon came along in early May !
. Simon came along in early May !
|(Illustrations - My last victory at the TA Triathlon Champs - winning team at TA Cross Country Champs - pre NZ report - event poster - warming up for NZ trip with victories in Welsh Sprint Duathlon & Atlantic College 10k - 3 Welsh reps in NZ, Neil Lewis, myself & Bob Furness, last 200 mts - report of trip, Nos Galan and fell race victory.|
1995 - Won a bronze medal
in the Welsh Duathlon Champs, not bad considering I helped to organise the race
as well and took part in the 12 stage road relays the day before.
Went on to organise with Gareth the Inaugural Home International Duathlon
Championships at Neath and took part in the event representing (Illustration
- Newspaper report of Gareth's selection for GB, I sneak a mention there at the
end with my selection for Welsh Mountain bike team)
(Illustration - Newspaper report of Gareth's selection for GB, I sneak a mention there at the end with my selection for Welsh Mountain bike team)
1996 - won County (West
Glamorgan) cross country championships at senior level, represented Wales at
mountain biking at senior level in the only ever Mountain Bike Tour of Britain .
Returned to NZ for the Coast to Coast, teamed up with me old mate Steve Harvey
and finished 3rd team, neither of us were particularly fit so it was a good
result for us, experience was a telling factor.
. Returned to NZ for the Coast to Coast, teamed up with me old mate Steve Harvey and finished 3rd team, neither of us were particularly fit so it was a good result for us, experience was a telling factor.
(Illustrations - one of the many river crossings and finishing the Coast to Coast - bottom picture, the finishing straight, a 100 metre run after 56 miles on the bike, I was in bits after hanging on to the bunch for the last 5 miles.
1997 - Had a small spell of
fitness around September, 1st in Cymmer Tri, 1st in Ironballs swim/run duathlon
the day after. 2nd in Excalibur. Did my first Quadrathlon in the Peak District
and finished 2nd.
(Illustration - running for Neath Harriers in Mickey Morris Cross Country relays)
1998 - Finished 7th in the European Sprint
Quadrathlon, I passed the leading vet on the run. Had nacred my back the week before in a kayak race, so was pleased
to get a reasonable result here, but I was fit for it and peaked nicely for this
race, had a resting pulse of 29 the day before the race. Selected for
1999 - This was to be a big
year, a dress rehearsal for the big 40, I was hoping to be flying ready for the
big 40. The year
started brilliantly, 9 weeks in (Illustration
- selection for kayak team in Welsh Kayak magazine)
(Illustration - selection for kayak team in Welsh Kayak magazine)
2000 - Domestic problems reached a crescendo in
late January. Then in February I woke up one morning and found myself in
(Illustration - winning world champs in Czech Republic)
2001 - Won the Welsh triathlon champs (veteran,
over 40) again. In June published www.rugbyrelics.com
for the first time
during the 2001 Lions tour. In September the Rugby Relics website opened
the world's first on-line dedicated rugby museum, 'World Rugby Museum' the first collection the
museum bought was that of England and British Lions player Jim
Unwin - for the Dai's Diary entry on the Jim
Unwin page CLICK
HERE. Later that year I was awarded the Neath
(Illustration - the invisible man)
2002 - I was still coaching triathlon at Neath College and with Multisport Racing Club & coaching kayaking with Neath Kayak Club, still running Rugby Relics. Took part in only 1 triathlon this year, winning Team Triple Sprint for 3rd year in succession. Got married for the 2nd time on December 7th in the Cook Islands.
(Illustration - marriage to Hayley, with Dale & Simon)
2003 - Still chairman of Multisport
Racing Club, now
(Illustration - after exiting the swim in the British Aquathlon champs.)
2004 - Retired as chairman of Multisport Racing
Club. Took Triathlon Academy to Lanzarote on training camp. Took part
in a 'multisport' event Aberavon Beach to the top of Pen-y-Fan (30 miles
cycling, 10 miles running, broke course record by 30 miniutes but finished 2nd
to Tom Gibbs who beat it by 32 (and went on to become the World Adventure Racing
Champion in 2010). Did the Llandovery
Triathlon, finished 2nd.
News in July was that the college were heavily in debt, took redundancy along with many others as College brought in a hatchet man as the new Principal. Came back to Rugby Relics full time. CLICK HERE FOR THE HISTORY OF NEATH PORT TALBOT COLLEGE TRIATHLON ACADEMY. I was invited to take part in the Seat 'Men's Health' Challenge in Spain. How can you turn down a challenge like that, photos from this challenge appear on the SEAT CHALLENGE PAGE - CLICK HERE. The story that appeared in Men's Health appears below. In December Rugby Relics helped to refurbish the William Webb Ellis pub in the town of Rugby.
(Illustration left- NPT College Triathlon Academy's Training Camp in Lanzarote, what a week !)
2005 - My 20th year in triathlon was celebrated with one of
the hardest events on the calendar at Blaenavon, I finished !. Had a good
day out at the Welsh Orienteering Championships, finishing 3rd in my category,
although I'm still struggling big time with this sport. Had another nice day out
with a stroll over the mountains, doing the half course in 'mountaineering'
section of the Welsh 1000s (see 1993 for my last time in this event), broke the
course record for the veteran's section although I was nowhere near fit, tramping up Snowdon brought back
great memories. It was happy father time when Vicky & Laurie both made it to
University and Dale got his Welsh 'vest' in orienteering. Took Simon to his
first international at the Millennium Stadium to see Gavin Henson slot the ball
over against England. We then bought the grass he kicked off and encapsulated it
in paperweights. Appeared in a documentary on BBC with Gareth Edwards on the
1905 Wales v NZ game, also appeared in the crowd of another on S4C and had a
line 'Play Up Wales'.
(Illustration - pictured with Dave Gallaher and Billy Wallace prior to filming the S4C documentary)
2006 was a
bit of an Annus Horriblus, if it could go wrong it did but I won't bore
you with the details. The kids did well though ! Vicky finished 2nd in the
Welsh slalom championships, just 2 seconds off the number one spot. Dale
represented Wales at orienteering and cyclo cross and Simon won the under
12 orienteering short course Welsh championships. I had a few purple patches,
the orienteering started to come together, with a couple of good runs, I
won the Swansea Bay orienteering
summer league but this worked on a handicap system, my best result was
third in an event. I won the Welsh veteran's aquathlon championships (see
below for the finish).
Took a Celtic Tri training camp to France for a week in May, click here for the story of this week. My triathlon for the year was in Bude (my 21st year) which Dale also did and I did a few cyclo cross events towards the end of the year. Bought a new bike for Dale, thank goodness because a couple of weeks later I broke his old one cyclo cross training, made a bit of a mess of my face in the gravel and three hours later I had to go to watch the Ospreys thrash Australia. What a fantastic night for the Ospreys, by the end of the night though I could only see through one eye, the other had closed and I looked like I'd been ten rounds with Joe Calzaghe. The World Rugby Museum made it's mark with an exhibition to celebrate the 125th Anniversary of the Welsh Rugby Union and Charlotte Church bought Gavin Henson one of our paperweights for Christmas. Proud moments of the year were when both Vicky and Dale joined me and completed the 'Round the Pier Swim' in Aberavon, The water was seriously bumpy and eight people were pulled out or were retired including some experienced swimmers. Simon played the Wizard of Oz in the school production of the same name, it was great to see him on stage. I appeared on the Jamie Owen show on Radio Wales answering questions about rugby memorabilia. From now on I will consider myself a TV and radio personailty !!!!!!
An extremely busy year, we moved to the city of Glynneath and there was the
2007 Rugby World Cup which kept us pretty busy. I'm sure I did things
during 2007 when I remember I'll add them !.............
I remembered this........ I went to Krakow, Poland to watch Vicky represent Great Britain in the Under 23 European Championships in Poland, she had a fantastic first run and her one touch on the cost her 2 seconds and meant that she was in 5th position after the first run instead of leading the competition. A poor second run and and even poorer judging decision meant she missed the qualifying place for the semi-final by one place and finished 21st overall.
Another busy year, mainly spent trying to develop www.rugbyrelics.com.
Still taking part in the occasional sporting event: My one triathlon for
the year was the new Celtic Tri Race in Margam, other events were the
Welsh 1000s half course, Margam Park Duathlon, Aberavon Aquathlon, &
Glynneath 5 road race, getting slower by the week. Dale and I competed in all but one
event of the Welsh Cyclo Cross series, Dale finishing 3rd junior, I was
18th overall. Both Dale and Simon represented Wales at orienteering.
I won the short course event at the Welsh Orienteering Championships. Victoria didn't have the best of years, she was identified as a possible participant in the Beijing Olympics but a shoulder injury meant she missed the kayak season, she had an operation in October.
Margam Park Duathlon start, pictured far left, / and the finish, I went on a photoshop course earlier in the year, cyclo cross at Pembrey
When does life get any easier...... never ! I spent the spring trying to
get fit for the Welsh 1000s, full course this year so it was a serious day
out on the mountains. I was getting there nicely when with six weeks to go
I developed a hernia while lifting crates. I managed a small amount of
training going in to the event but on the day I felt great until I hit the
junction of the Miner's and the Pyg track then a big gorilla jumped on my
back and I had to carry him all the way to the top. It was quite a nasty
day with a lot of people taken off by the mountain rescue - click on this
link for the BBC story -
but I did OK finishing 2nd in the race and being part of the winning team,
interestingly my time was almost good enough to have won the military section,
over 2 hours slower than I used to win it in, in the olden days. In July I
had a delightful day out at Victoria's graduation in Notttingham Uni,
she'd achieved a 1st class honours masters degree in Chemistry. I entered the
Gower and Glynneath triathlons, did the Gower OK, well at least I finished
it but then "OUCH" said my left calf muscle as I pulled it like
I'd never pulled it before, landing awkwardly during an orienteering
competition near the Dan-yr-Ogof caves in the Swansea valley. The
Glynneath triathlon came and went and I couldn't even think about hobbling
around it. I got back on feet and despite a couple more minor pulls I won
my first orienteering competition at Aberedw Rocks near Builth Wells in
November. Early December an article appeared in 'Inside
Welsh Sport Magazine' Christmas Issue (no. 4) proclaiming 'Dai
Richards as 'Wales' Fittest man' - nice one !
or visit the I Welsh Sport website and view the interview there !
Next year is the big '5 - 0' so I've entered the Roth Ironman in Germany to celebrate !
The Roth Ironman came and went without me on the start line, too many small niggly injury problems meant there was no way I was going to be fit enough to finish the event. So to celebrate the big 5 and 0 i decided to run around Wales. in stages of course, one big run would take a serious amount of time. Thursday seemed like a good day so on a Thursday in January I set off from Loughor Bridge which seemed as good a start point as any and headed off down the coast to Penclawdd. two hours later I pulled a calf muscle so my run turned to a walk and I decided there and then to 'Walk Around Wales'....... in stages of course. Events for the year included Welsh 1000s half course, (finished 2nd), Vale of Neath Triathlon (25th). Orienteering was reasonable, I won an event at Plynlimon in Mid Wales and had a couple of other good finishes.
Simon represented Wales again at orienteering. had a great day out in early October when Dale and I climbed Cadair Idris first thing, then onto Bala to watch Victoria win the Welsh senior slalom kayak championship for the first time !
There is a boat there somewhere & look at that proud father with the Welsh Champion.
Sunrise over Snowdonia from Cadair Idris with a little help from our Photoshop friend !
September 2010 - I launched my Personal Training website www.personal-trainer-wales.com for training in the world's greatest adventure park WALES - so if you need any coaching, personal training or guiding in the open air or swimming pool then visit.
With my walk around Wales I got almost as far as White Castle between Monmouth and Abergavenny, my GPS packed in but I reckon so far I've done around 400 miles. I timed it just right so that on one walk I could enter the Welsh Pinball Classic and now I'm ranked the 4th best pinball player in Wales. Please form an orderly queue for my autograph !
My one triathlon for the year was Glynneath, I think I finished around 25th, I won an orienteering event on Plynlimon mountain near Aberystwyth. I also did Race the Train in mid Wales (failed by 3 minutes to beat it) and the Glynneath 5 road race (34.33) and Nos Galan (19.57), getting quicker towards the end of the year, are things looking up for 2011................
very unlikely !!!!!!!
|.....has arrived and gone and I was alive but busy - once I edit my photos from this year I'll remember what I did so please come back and visit in 15-20 years time......... Ahhhhhhh I remember that I started 'Moonwalking' not the Michael Jackson type but walking in a full to nearly full moon - two of these 'moonwalks' stand out in my mind. The 'awesome incredible moonwalk' where I witnessed a seriously fantastic sunset over the Black Mountain while walking from Brecon to home and the other walking the Crib Goch knife edge to the top of Snowdon with cloud cover with no lights on ! This was my first time over the knife edge and it was seriously scary. Thanks to my LEADER Simon Pierce for that one !!!! - memories are flooding back, in August i organised an exhibition for the official Welsh Rugby Union 130th Anniversary dinner, watch this space for more ! my triathlon for the year was an open water midweek one at Rheola Pond. I finished !|
.............has arrived and I'm busy again - it's the end of June and in the last 5
weeks I've ticked off a couple more things from my 'bucket list' both
titled 'Three Peaks' - the first was Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon
which I did leading the 'Ford Walking Group, Bridgend in the fantastic time
of 22 hours 57 mins including the driving (by Top Man Jeff Rees and Top
Lady Fran) and the Welsh Three Peaks Snowdon, Cader Idris & Pen-y-Fan
in around 14 hours with me driving and climbing and sleeping. This was
Dale's 21st birthday weekend and we had a small window in rubbish weather
so had to start on Snowdon at 1.00 am, which also makes my last three
trips up Snowdon in the dark !!!! Fun times.
20th July - Mum passed away after a long illness, tough times for all the family. She was a great Mum and always did her best for me. CLICK HERE to see more about her.
The next 6 months were mostly spent on work and family admin and I had to put personal training on hold indefinitely. A calf injury played havoc with running and I missed the Glynneath Boxing Day 5 and Nos Galan for the first time in a few years. I did manage to get the racing bike out for the Glynneath triathlon to keep my 28 year triathlon streak going and managed a top 20 finish. In the week leading up to the Wales v New Zealand match we met with Sir Colin Meads and Richie McCaw for them to add their 'Thumbographs' to my increasing memorabilia collection.
Towards the end of the year I think i discovered that I have ADHD 'Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder' which may account for my unusual lifestyle and attitude to life and the universe. I've done a few tests and have ticked most of the boxes to confirm this. Now what ?
........... was a busy year, apart from working a million hours every week
I went to Wembley to watch the Swans win the Capital One (League) Cup. I
took the kids up in a hot air balloon.
Hayley and I welcomed our first grandchild Gethin John Philip Thomas. My little girl Victoria became Dr Victoria. Laurie moved out, Dale & Jess moved in and Simon continues to follow his big sister doing a chemistry degree.
The family at Laurie's 28th birthday meal
James & Laurie, Jess & Dale, me, Hayley holding Gethin, Dr Victoria & Simon
I made plans to harness my ADHD and then went off and did something completely different. I remembered what my triathlon in 2011 was and have filled it in, 2013 was the local Glynneath one, I finished, top 20 again I think. I managed to break my longest continuous daily training run and increased it from 115 to 275, but I didn't get fast, my best result in the West Glam cross country league was 97th. I did a couple more legs in my Walk Around Wales and am now at Newchurch which is just north of Hay-on-Wye.
Did my first acting job for an agency, as a striking miner I did the first ever movement in the first scene filmed for the film 'Pride' in Onllwyn putting up a poster, the film is out next year and stars Bill Nighy, Andrew Scott and Imelda Staunton. Here I am next to Bill Nighy in one of the publicity stills.
More stuff to follow once I've edited the photos - there are now at least 4 years photos to edit so it might take a while !!!!!
has arrived and I'm old and tired, mum and dad have gone so that makes me
the head of my little clan, my first cousin is a great grandfather so I'm
in that generation, in the West Glam Cross Country League I finished 138th
in the same race I finished 2nd in 25 years ago. I'm old and tired but I
did invent 'porridge on the point' last week for no particular reason.
Recipe for Porridge on the Point - find a point along the south Wales coast (illustrated Port Eynon Point). Take a camping cooker, camping gas, saucepans & lighter, spoon & ingredients. Arrive at the point about 20 minutes before sunrise, refresh the body with a beverage of your choice, (mine is coffee). Pour your ingredients (one cup of porridge oats, once cup of milk, one cup of water) into the saucepan, cook porridge on a low heat to the preferred consistency. Eat while the sun is rising, mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm............ followed by the beverage of your choice.
The weather was a absolute shocker for the first couple of months and up until the end of February the two sunny mornings that we'd had so far this year were spent on Port Eynon Point enjoying the porridge. On 27th February I broke my leg (more to follow at a later date) and since then the sun has shone almost every day. Somebody up there doesn't like me.......
More about the broken leg later, it's 8th June and today was the first day I've missed in the swimming pool for 8 weeks, I did my first ride on the road bike after 2 weeks on the mountain bike. I've been off crutches for 4 weeks now and have entered the Glynneath triathlon in September, hopefully I'll be able to jog the run leg !
July & August I worked 5 days on the BBC series Wolf Hall
Episode 3 - in the Canterbury Crowd
Episode 4 - Lord Dai of Glynneath in the Thomas More trial
12th September was the release date for Pride and I was seriously excited. I didn't get much screen time but there is one moment in the film when I am the only person on screen, and I'm filling the screen............... with my back, still back is better than nothing. I've uploaded this clip to Youtube - see below - I'm the guy putting up the posters and when the chap in the bus shouts 'Martin come on', that's me getting into the bus before Martin.
My last appearance in a fleeting one in the march back to work
Here's a photo because it really is fleeting.
November - Dr Victoria got married to Dr Christina, our first family same sex wedding.
December I started my Walk Around Wales blog, just so that I can talk more about myself, from now on you'll find a lot more rubbish about me written on there.
.....has arrived and I'm always trying to keep myself busy so it's July now and I'm updating this page for the first time in ages. So where are we now - still in Glynneath, still at Rugby Relics, I've relaunched my personal training www.personal-trainer-wales.com after breaking my leg. Hayley has lost two stone, Laurie and James have bought a house in Pontypridd, Dr Victoria is living in Cambride and working with the Royal Society of Chemistry, Dale and Jess have bought a house in Maesteg and Gethin's first word was bike and he's not yet two and he's flying around on his balance bike so I guess he might take up archery at some stage. Hats off to Simon who in now Simon Thomas BSc Hons after getting a 1st class honours degree in Chemistry. The kids fight for their photo to be in the centre spot of the mantlepiece. With Simon the only one now living at home he wins every time.
The Pride video was launched in March and when you put it on the Pathe introduction comes up then the first thing you see is me me me putting up posters with the selection menu, then it cuts to other scenes from the film and loops around so I can sit and watch myself on DVD all day long. I just need to get a tele now. Click on the link below to view this
Maytime I started the Dai-athlon, a North Wales to South Wales triathlon challenge. I've done a few more legs on my Walk Around Wales and am now between Knighton and Montgomery. www.walk-around-wales.com is now an on-going blog of my walks and stuff CLICK HERE to view this website.
It's the end of June and summers over again, it's been raining for the last week. last weekend I did my first Walk Around Wales walk with a leg from Newcastle-on-Clun to Montgomery and earlier this month I did my annual triathlon, this year it was a return to the dreaded Blaenavon triathlon, now operating out of Abergavenny. The bike was a struggle and I've had easier gears put on my bike since and the walk, sorry run, of 9 miles was another struggle but I finished with the leg in reasonable shape but to do this I had to walk approximately 7 of the 9 miles. I had the slowest run, which is the first time ever in a triathlon, but who cares, the important thing is that I can still run a little and the leg is still improving. I spent most of the year focussing on my first book which was launched on 13th December.
Go on, buy a copy, you know you want to.
I'm busy building 2017 - so far I was looking like a real actor in Sherlock where I stopped Moriarty from entering a restricted area & Decline & Fall during which I had a grunting line. The girls had a busy May time Laurie got married to James in Florida and Victoria won one gold and four silver medals in the European White Water Rafting Championships. In the photos she is on the far right in the raft and the far left in the presentation. More to follow......
END OF BLOG - I'VE NOW MOVED MY BLOG 100% TO...............
Walk Around Wales blog
THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT ME !
ARE YOU RELATED TO DAI - CLICK HERE OR ON A LINK BELOW FOR DAI'S FAMILY HISTORY
FAMILY HISTORY PAGES - My Mum & Dad - Francis-Rees Family History - Thomas Snow Family History - William Henry Snow Family History - Francis Family Neath History - Snow family back to 1520 - William Snow - Snow family back to 1538 - Edmund Medland - Victoria Gardens, Neath History
INDIVIDUAL SPORTS HISTORIES
AQUATHLON - ATHLETICS - BADMINTON - CROSS COUNTRY - CYCLO CROSS - DUATHLON - MARATHON KAYAKING - MOUNTAIN BIKING - MOUNTAIN RUNNING - ORIENTEERING - QUADRATHLON - RUGBY - SOCCER - SQUASH - TRIATHLON
Aquathlon is the combined sport of swimming & running, it's triathlon without the bike. I haven't done many. In 2003 I finished 2nd in my age group in the British Champs and was a member of the winning team, Adrian & Aled, the other members of the team were athletes I was coaching at the time. In 2006 I finished 11th in Welsh champs and won the veteran's title and I may have won it in 2007 as well, if that was the day after Mike Loyns' barbeque, things were a little fuzzy on that particular morning.
I started with the jogging boom in the early 1980's, 1982 to be exact, my first outing was the Swansea Bay 10k in which I managed 43rd place, in a time of 35.36, my main sport at the time was soccer and I didn't do much training, I was in amongst the club runners so this was quite a respectable time. My next outing was the Afan Half Marathon in the same year and I ran 1.16.??, still under 6 minutes a mile. Once again I was high up amongst the club runners, I think I finished 14th overall. This was pretty good going considering I was still running in flat trainers (I hadn't discovered cushioned running shoes yet) and nylon soccer shorts, these hurt like hell. It was a surprise to me that I could compete at athletics even though I'd won the school cross countries and done a limited amount of track running as a kid. The next year I was selected for the county cross country team and took part in the Inter Counties race at Leicester. Mid way through the summer, one of the hottest on record, the BBC caught me winning the 1500 mts at the Dole Olympics, coming off the bend to win the sprint finish in 4.21. My times steadily improved and by 1986 I was winning 5 - 6 road races a year, but then triathlon was my main sport and running just a means to an end. I didn't do too badly though winning the county championship at 5000 mts in 1985 and cross country in 1996. I now try to take part in the Glynneath 5 Boxing Day Run and Nos Galan (I did finish 2nd in the Nos Galan in the mid 1990s) every year, they are nice social events and if I can manage to don a set of pink and yellows I will.
I first started playing badminton when I was about 13, playing 3 - 4 times a week I soon became quite handy with a racquet and eventually played league badminton for the British Steel Company, Margam. I had a couple of seasons playing with the team (1976 - 1978 ish) but sharpness, a requirement for badminton just wasn't there.
Once I'd dedicated myself to Triathlon, I looked around for complimentary sports, cyclo-cross fitted the bill in that there were cycling skills involved and getting off the bike and running. In my first event at Morfa Stadium I finished 4th and in my second race I beat half the Welsh team, the next season I won my first 'cross' and was selected for the Welsh team, my first international vest/jersey, although they took back the jersey due to 'economical reasons' and it was several years later before I managed to pinch a cycling jersey so that I can show my kids that I represented Wales. I represented Wales 3 times at cyclo-cross, and was selected on a few more occasions but it didn't always fit in with my race calendar/budget. It was competing in cyclo cross that I received one of my worst injuries, 23 stitches, 17 in my leg and 6 in my arm while racing on an old coal tip. I only slid on some grass but must have caught my leg and arm on a piece of slag. What annoyed me most was that I had to pull out of the race, I was leading at the time, in front of Tim Davies, my future team mate and British Mountain Bike Champion. I'd only beaten him once before and was never to beat him again.
DUATHLON - (Run/Bike)
Always one of my strongest sports I won several duathlons in South Wales in the late 1980s & early 1990s. The Bynea Biathlon as it was then called was my first duathlon where I lost out to team mate Martyn Hughes, after that I won the race 2 or 3, finishing second on another 2 or 3 occasions. I won events at Worcester and Hereford in successive weeks, the Hereford victory was one of my best results, I beat, British Ironman champion Chris Ray into second and Welsh Triathlon champion Phil Kibble into 3rd. In 1994 I won the Welsh Sprint Championship and represented Wales in 1995.
I took up Marathon Kayaking to compliment Quadrathlon, it was after all the 4th discipline. This sport is not easy, unlike any other forms of kayaking, the marathon kayak does one thing, it goes in a straight line. I struggled with balance throughout my career and in the first 6 months of having a marathon kayak I spent most of the time in the water swimming with it. Likewise in most of my early races I fell out on most. I was selected to represent Wales in 3 events but only ended up doing the 'Tour of Scotland' because of other commitments. I won my only kayak race on the River Usk (near Newport), an 8 mile race, the last 3 miles against the incoming tide. Not a sport I greatly enjoyed but a necessary evil for Quadrathlon.
This is a sport with which I've had a love/hate relationship over the years. The early days, when mountain biking was introduced to Britain were tough, no suspension meant you were bounced all over the place and at one time I'd wake up the morning after a tough race (not with hangover) with arthritic pains in the fingers and wrists. My early races on the mountain bike were a nightmare, my first, a national series event at Cannock Chase was one big mudbath from start to non finish. Riding behind another bike at speed through mud means you have to continually blink to rid the eyes of any mud that gets in them and to hopefully catch the mud before it hits the eyeball. If it hits the eyeball then the blinking will hopefully clear it, if not, you just have to guess which way to go ! We were about three-quarters of the way through the race when I came down hard on the back of the saddle and it snapped. No saddle and a sticking up seat post meant no finish to my first race. The second and third races were also non finishes due to mechanical problems. It was a big thank you to Schmoo for providing bikes, parts, transport, event fees, in fact everything to do with mountain biking. I spent 5 years as a sponsored rider with the Schmoo's team. My best finish I think was 8th or 9th in a national series event but my best result was 10th at another event at Cannock Chase, 8 of the riders in front of me were professional and the one amateur Nicky Craig was to turn professional the next year. The were another 10 - 15 professionals behind me including Chris Walker who went on to win the Milk Race a couple of years later. I represented Wales a couple of times including the MTB Tour of Britain, a televised event that was to rival the Kellogs Tour, the race lasted a week and we were transported all around Britain for the races, it was great to ride amongst the top riders in Europe, I finished the leading rider in the Welsh team. In 1995 I won the Welsh veterans championship. The Welsh championships only came into being around 1992/3, a shame really, in 1989 I was the leading Welsh rider in the Welsh 'Open' at Abergavenny. The love/hate relationship I think stems from taking risks. I'm naturally a non-risk taker but to win events and race amongst the best you have to take risks, a necessary evil, I have the scars to prove it. It's also the expense of the sport, it costs a fortune to run a decent bike if you are doing the miles. There is no way I could have afforded to do mountain biking if it wasn't for Schmoo. Sadly, no longer with us, the man was a Saint.
As a kid we lived half way up a mountain, running downhill to the bus stop for school in the morning was always a natural thing and when tramping with friends 'up the mountain' I was always first to the top. Mountain running is great fun but you always pay for it after with dead legs from the downhills. I was selected to represent Wales in 1993 in the Home Internationals and in my mountain running career I won 3 or 4 'mountain' races although I have never really done that many in total. My one love on the mountains was the Welsh 1000s, a race starting at sea level near Bangor and ending at the top of Snowdon, after visiting the three other highest peaks in Wales (Carnedd Llewellyn, Carnedd Dafydd & Crib-y-Ddysgol). On paper the distance is about 25 miles but in reality it's more like 30. You have a list of items to carry, wetproofs, whistle, survival bag, torch, food, etc. The competition is organised by the British Army and there is a military section where the runner has to wear regulation boots and lightweights (trousers). I ran the race in 1992 & 1993 and won comfortably on both occasions over 10 minutes in front of my nearest competitors. In 2005 I went back to do the half race in the mountaineering section of the 1000s, just to get the feel of the mountains again, it was wonderful to be skipping up Snowdon again. I broke the course record for my age group in this category in this race.
I always fancied myself at orienteering, the local club, Swansea Bay OC is fantastically well organised and they are superb at encouraging new people into the sport. I tried to get into it as far back as the late 1980s but with a young family it was too logistically tough. I started again with the family in about 1999 and 2000, mostly I just accompanied the boys while they were on their courses, there's a great family atmosphere at the club so there were also plenty of playmates for a post competition muck about for the boys while I managed the occasional nightmare run. Then the 'Foot & Mouth' epidemic hit and the countryside was closed off. It took us 3 years to get back into the sport. We had a full year's local competition in 2004 when more often that not I finished last. In 2005 I still struggled but there's a glimmer of hope for the future with 3 top 5 finishes in the Swansea Bay Summer League and 3rd place in my age group at the Welsh Champs. In 2006 I was orienteering with more consistency, I won the summer league at Swansea Bay and showed an improvement generally. 2007 was a bit of a so so year but 2008 started with a bang when I won the short course for my age group at the Welsh championships. In 2009 I also won the short course for my age group and also won outright my first competition.
I first saw the sport of Quadrathlon in one of the triathlon magazines and thought, Mmmmmmmmmm like it ! A bit like multi-sport really, you see something and just know you can do it. I looked at it and it didn't take me long to decide I should spend the next 8 years of my life focusing on winning the Quadrathlon World Championship in the year that I turned 40, I even bought a house next to a canal so I wouldn't have to travel to train in the kayak. There were no doubts in my mind, the day I won the championship I was in the 'zone' big time, from start to finish. My overall position was 8th (in the world) but more importantly I was the best over 40 Quadrathlete in the world. A week before I'd won the European veteran's title and also finished 8th in that race, but as far as I was concerned that race was a warm up, a test, if I'd returned home European champion and not World Champion then that would have been a failure and I would have had to do it again and again until I got it right. The greatest feeling was crossing the line and Hayley and the boys were there, I can't stop smiling now that I think about it. Sadly it was just too logistically tough to get the girls there !!!!!! But I think it was the feeling of relief more than anything else ! Although I had been preparing for 8 years my first quad was only in 1997 when I finished 2nd in a race in the Peak District. In 1998 I was 7th in the European Championships, two days prior to this when I was tapering down I recorded my lowest ever pulse rate of 29, I was incredibly fit, it was just my kayak section that was letting me down. In 1999 I was 2nd the British Champs, held in Scotland. The fact that you have to arrive at the start line with wetsuit, bike & kayak makes quadrathlon an incredibly difficult sport in which to organise yourself. I suppose that was one of the factors that helped me to succeed, I'm quite well organised !!!!
first ever game was for
I started playing youth rugby for Baglan RFC after I packed in refereeing, firstly I just made up the numbers, playing anywhere there was a space, wing, second row, hooker, full back, scrum half, centre, then commanded a regular sport at outside half, the only ‘famous’ player I can remember facing during ‘youth’ rugby was Bleddyn Bowen, (captain of the 1988 Welsh Triple Crown side). It was during the last couple of months of youth rugby that I badly dislocated my shoulder, we were playing a local derby against Cwmavon and mid way through the second half the No 8 broke off the scrum and ran straight at me, I dipped my shoulder and met force with force only as I kept on going forward my shoulder started going backward, so it was off to the hospital and once I woke up and after the anaesthetic I enquired as to the outcome of the match. It ended in a 6 - 3 victory for us, I had scored both the penalty and drop goal that won us the game, small consolation for 10 weeks in a sling. The next season I was back playing for the 2nds, but on the second match popped my shoulder again, I was able to lever it back in this time and carried on playing and over the next few months it popped again and again and again.
the shoulder was weak and I was unable to tackle hard if at all, I managed
to force my way into the first team at Baglan from about Christmas
onwards. At that time the club were one of the strongest junior union and
I had the pleasure of playing behind a very strong pack, including several
players who had played first class rugby in Wales, Jimmy Owen at prop (Aberavon
& Wales B), Gareth Edwards at hooker (Maesteg)
I officially retired from rugby and signed up for the operation to correct
my shoulder problem with the National Health Service. The waiting list was
long and I spent the next three seasons playing soccer for Baglan Boys
Club in the Port Talbot League. However, if a game was postponed or
we had a free weekend I made my way to the rugby club looking for a game.
I didn't always make it, often I'd be pulled up by a committee man of the
Briton Ferry Steel RFC who's headquarters were only 200 yards from the
Baglan Rugby Club. The Ferry Steel were always short and were delighted to
recruit me as I made my way to the club, I nearly always turned out at
scrum half for them as I did for the Aberavon Naval RFC who were another
club always on the 'look out' for players. Occasionally I'd turn out for Baglan, but
only when a half back or full back specialist was required. During this
time I remember coming on as a replacement for Baglan at scrum half against Rhigos.
The game was already won, but I had 15 minutes playing against my boyhood
hero Dai Morris. I tried to tackle Dai but it was like running into a
lamp-post. The man is made out of granite, I can't say I bounced off him,
I just came to a stop and he carried on going.
I officially retired from rugby and signed up for the operation to correct my shoulder problem with the National Health Service. The waiting list was long and I spent the next three seasons playing soccer for Baglan Boys Club in the Port Talbot League. However, if a game was postponed or we had a free weekend I made my way to the rugby club looking for a game. I didn't always make it, often I'd be pulled up by a committee man of the Briton Ferry Steel RFC who's headquarters were only 200 yards from the Baglan Rugby Club. The Ferry Steel were always short and were delighted to recruit me as I made my way to the club, I nearly always turned out at scrum half for them as I did for the Aberavon Naval RFC who were another club always on the 'look out' for players. Occasionally I'd turn out for Baglan, but only when a half back or full back specialist was required. During this time I remember coming on as a replacement for Baglan at scrum half against Rhigos. The game was already won, but I had 15 minutes playing against my boyhood hero Dai Morris. I tried to tackle Dai but it was like running into a lamp-post. The man is made out of granite, I can't say I bounced off him, I just came to a stop and he carried on going.
I finally had the operation to correct my shoulder problem in 1984 but by then I was a runner so rugby took a back seat. I did have a final flourish in about 1988 - 1990 when I turned out several times for the 4th Battalion Royal Regt Wales (Territorial Army). The 4th Battalion (based in Swansea) had never beaten the 3rd Battalion (based in Cardiff) so when we beat them at Skewen in 1989 (I think) it was a big thing for our team. I had a good game at outside half, scoring and converting the first try. My one abiding memory of that match is our old commanding officer Colonel Howells coming on at half time (we were about 15 points up at this stage) and saying he was going to commission the biggest cup we had ever seen as an annual trophy for the match. Two years later the Battalions amalgamated, I wonder where that cup is now? Our coach at the RRW was Phil Langford, the ex Neath and Wales B prop, a great motivator was Phil and a wonderful coach. He once stopped a training session and gathered everyone around to witness me scooping up the ball one handed at full flight. I had once seen Clive Shell (ex Aberavon and wales scrum half) do this in a match against Neath. I was mesmerised by this single element of skill and practised intensely until I had perfected that skill myself with either hand. Phil had never seen this done before, he probably had his head down in the scrum when Clive did it against Neath. Although the skills were still there, and my shoulder never did 'pop' again 'touch wood' I knew it was time to quit when in two successive games I'd made a break and only had to pin back my ears and make it to the goal line for a try when on both occasions I was caught by a prop forward. Time to call it a day !
The question that haunts every Welshman who has never played for Wales is. "Would I have made it if so and so hadn't happened ?" we've all got our excuses ? Mine is my shoulder ! Would I ever have pulled on the red shirt of Wales? The anwser is NO ! Basic speed, basic strength, I was lacking in both. I may have scraped the occasional first class game for Aberavon or Neath (Aberavon were the strongest of the two sides in those days) if I was lucky. I was always on hand to play and even first class teams struggled to take midweek sides away to Pontypool, Cross Keys and Abertillery. But that would have been my lot, I couldn't have commanded a regular place for a first class team let alone selection for Wales, I had the skills but that was all. Maybe it's a blessing my shoulder went after all because I think I did pretty well in the other sports I persued!!!!!
I first considered refereeing while sitting in the stands watching Neath. I wanted to become involved in the game but never had the confidence to become a player. I approached Clive Norling and asked how I became a referee. It was Clive (I think) who put me in touch with the Aberavon district who said, "OK you want to become a referee, this Saturday Pontrhydyfen v Aberavon Green Stars, I'll get someone to contact you" talk about deep end. I was 17 and they wanted me to referee a local derby between two senior sides. Recipe for disaster, I cried off. I started refereeing youth games and the occasional senior match. I wasn't very good at it. I once sent off two captains because they couldn't control their teams, youth rugby was one big melee from start to finish. I wasn't just because I was reffing, the games I watched were the same. I passed the welsh Rugby Union's referee's exam but I'm afraid refereeing just wasn't for me. I think eventually I would have made it, some of the guys who were on the district at the same time Rob Yemen, Jeff Woods, Ron Staddon, did become first class referees. but not me.
Supporting Neath is in the blood, although brought up in Port Talbot (Aberavon) and going through the 1970s where between 1973 and 1979 Neath didn't beat Aberavon in a run of 24 games. The old rivalry between these two teams stretch back for ever and I received some serious stick at school. But blood is thicker than linament and all my family hail from Neath so that's who I supported. I held a season ticket between 1973 and 1982 and funnily enough I used to have one at Aberavon too, but this was so that the chance of obtaining international tickets was doubled. At Aberavon you could queue for any left overs after the allocated tickets were collected. Supporting Wales was important too and between 1973 and 1981 I only missed one home game, the Grand Slam decider against France in 1976, because of a broken collar bone. From 1978 to 1980 I also watched the away matches as well. Ahhhh the good old days. On average I'd watch 3 matches a week during the season. It was on the way to watching the Newport v Llanelli cup quarter final in 1976 that I broke my collar bone. I crashed into a car at 40 mph on the way to the train station on my bike (with poor brakes). From 1981 onwards it's been a case of following my own and the kids sporting dreams, but lately, my youngest Simon is taking an interest so I can get the occasional game in.
RUGBY ADMINISTRATOR & COACH
For a short while I served on the committee of Baglan Rugby but not very well, at 18 I was immature and didn't have the commitment needed for the job. I did however, manage to help Jimmy Owen get the Baglan Junior section off the ground. I acted as first secretary arranging fixtures etc and taking part helping out with the coaching. In our very first session, the future Neath & Cardiff and Welsh international player Steve Williams turned up together with Aberavon regular No 8, Phil Hamley. At one stage we fielded two under 16 sides including Dai Joseph, the future Welsh prop.
RUGBY HISTORIAN & COLLECTOR
My first item of rugby memorabilia was a Wales v England 1965 programme. Given to me by a neighbour to burn on our November 5th bonfire, this was about 1969. Needless to say it didn't make it that far. By the time I was 17 (1977) I had a reasonable collection of programmes, it was then with a shoe box of doublers I started wheeling and dealing in Rugby Relics. Nearly 30 years on, here I am with one of the world's finest collections, according to the Sunday Times that is !!!!! 2005 was the 100th anniversary of "The Greatest Game" Wales v NZ 1905. I appeared on the two documentaries relating to the game. The first was where Gareth Edwards came the house retracing Dickie Owen's journey to Cardiff on the train and the second was when I appeared as an extra in an S4C documentary as a member of the crowd. I even had a line in this one "Play Up Wales". Prior to the Six Nations tournament in 2006 I 'guested on the Jamie Owen, Radio Wales show answering questions on rugby memorabilia. The World Rugby Museum provided the bulk of the exhibits for the 125th Anniversary Exhibition of the founding of the WRU in Neath. In 2016 I published my first book which pinpoints the origin of Rugby Union.
This is something I'd love to do more of, but pursuing my own sports, family life, you can only do so much, there are only 1440 minutes in a day and each one precious. Previously I've written articles on collecting for Rugby News, Dragon News and Kick Off the RWC magazine, I promise there is more to come in this department, and don't forget almost 100% of stuff on this and the www.world-rugby-museum.com website is written 'yours truly'
SOCCER / ASSOCIATION FOOTBALL
My first love was soccer, I was always kicking a ball against the wall or playing 'keep up'. My record at 'keep up' was 1752, not bad, I think the world record at the time was 4000+, but things have moved on since then and five year old kids can keep it up for more than that with their hands tied behind their backs and their feet tied together. I played my first game at the age of 8, in the under 13s league. Then an under 11s league was formed and I did quite well in that for 'Bay View' scoring the odd goal. When we moved to Baglan I played a couple of games for the 'Boys Club' but was never going to make the grade. I had town trials at school. When I packed in rugby because of my shoulder I started playing football again. Playing 3 seasons of senior football was more for enjoyment or something to do rather than ambition, although I could always see myself playing for the Swans some day !!!!. At that time Andrew Legg (Welsh international) was playing for our thirds, while I was lording it up in the seconds.
I started squash when I was about 14, played on and off for 6 years. In about 1980 I woked hard at my game and by 1982 had worked my way into Division 1 of the Afan Lido ladder. I had games for the Lido C, B & A teams but not regularly. I won a handicap tournament in Cwmavon. When I moved to Neath I played a season for Neath 'C' at No 1, losing my first match but going through the remainder of the season unbeaten, dropping only one game in the process. The team were promoted and I was promoted to No 2 in the A team. I lost in the final of the club tournament and moved to Swansea with my job. I played No 1 for Swansea Leisure Centre but retired soon after (age 25) because I kept breaking my strings but couldn't afford to replace them. In my season at Neath I was ranked in the top 20 in the county.
TRIATHLON - TRIATHLETE
The first reference to Triathlon in my training diary is 1983 and I started training for one straight away, swimming was my weak point and I graduated started one width of front crawl to three widths of breaststoke. It then took me a couple of years to get my act together and do one. This year (2017) will be my 33rd season as a triathlete, although my focus is no longer on triathlon I still consider myself as a triathlete because historically that's who I've been.
My first race was the Pen-y-Bont Ironman (Ogmore-on-Sea) in 1985, all triathlons in those days were called Ironman or something similar. the true Ironman (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile cycle, 26.2 mile run) is now one of those trade mark things that other people aren't allowed to use, a bit like Olympic, All Blacks etc. The Pen-y-Bont Ironman was a 1 mile swim, 8 mile run and 16 mile bike, I finished 10th out of about 80 and in the next year saw an improvement of 1 place. Wetsuits were not the norm in those days, tri suits were making an appearance but I struggled on with the old vest and shorts. 1986 also saw my first podium placings, I was 2nd in the Pontardawe Tinman (to Richard Morris, an early star of the sport) and 4th in the Bleanavon Triathlon, not an event to be taken lightly. The bulk of my triathlon career, with photos, can be read in the diary section. The highlight's were representing Wales and GB, winning Welsh Championship (veteran), the low point was missing the selection race for the Commonwealth Games in 1990, at the time I was one of the best triathletes in Wales but slipped and jammed my knee in a cattle grid while lining up for a mountain bike race two weeks previous.
During my tri-days I won several triathlons including the 1st Dyfed Open (twice - different organisers about 5 years apart), Pen-y-Bont, Hereford and the Territorial Army title 4 years in a row. The one drawback with triathlon after playing rugby and soccer was the loss of the team element, but there was one event in which we competed as a team, the Triple Sprint in Cardiff. Towards the end of my career we won this event three times in a row, it was a seriously intense affair, three triathlons, in different orders, with a team of 4 sticking together throughout the race. This brought out the master tactician in me and we prepared swim starts etc in the weeks leading up to the Sprints. Then on the way home it would be "Simply the Best" continuous on the tape !!!!!!!! My last serious race at Triathlon was the Welsh Champs in 2000, 2 weeks after I'd won the World Quad champs. I was 3rd overall in Wales, won the veteran's title and beat everybody else in the club by at least 5 minutes. I won the vets title the following year but by then racing had taken a back seat and I was putting my efforts into administration and coaching. I'm going to try and keep the tri's going, at least one a year for as long as possible, 2005 was Blaenavon, one of the classic races, a course not for the faint hearted. 2006 my annual effort was the Bude Triathlon - what a great event, I finished ! - 2007 I was allowed to do a kids triathlon with Simon ! 2008 Celtic Tri Margam race (5th out of the water, I'm still a machine). 2009 Gower Sprint Triathlon. 2010, 2011 Vale of Neath Triathlon, 2012 Rheola Midweek Triathlon, 2013, Vale of Neath again as well as 2014 (with a broken leg) & 2015. 2016 back to Blaenavon for the slowest run out of all the competitors, but I did walk 7 of the 9 miles, the leg is still not 100%.
TRIATHLON - ADMINISTRATOR
A huge influence on my sporting career was Schmoo (Maurice Levenson). Schmoo was a great visionary, he could see things well before they happened. One day we were on our way back from a mountain bike race and he said 'let's start a triathlon club' and so we did. I took on the role of club secretary and pursued Schmoo's vision. Schmoo contributed enough cash for 6 sets of tri-gear and soon we were shocking the Welsh public with our bright pink and yellow outfits.............and these outfits were shocking ! believe me ! Then one day I returned home from New Zealand, as you do and Schmoo's shop had gone belly up. So I was triathlon and mountain bike sponsor-less. The club changed it's name to the West Glamorgan Triathlon Club. In the next couple of years I got together with Gareth Thomas and started organising races, the first race we organised was the Swansea Enterprise Zone 10k followed by a series of Duathlons at Bridgend and Neath which attracted Welsh championship status. The race at Neath was the first ever Home International Duathlon Championships. Probably the biggest event I've helped organise was the British Triathlon Championships in Llanelli. Gareth and I split from the West Glamorgan Club and I coined the name Multisport Racing Club for our new club. I became chairman of the club and over the next 8 years co-ordinated the rise of MRC from two members into the largest and most successful triathlon club in Wales with over 200 members. There were many highlights but one that springs to mind was when club members Mike Loyns, Grant Howells & Rob Edwards finished 1- 2 - 3 in the Welsh Championships and there were several other age group placings on that day too. In September 2004 for personaI reasons resigned as chairman of Multisport RC and November 2005 several others resigned from Multisport and started a new club, Celtic Tri, I became a founder member and the newsletter editor for the first 2 years, since when I've taken a back seat in triathlon adminstration. In 2012 I was made a life member of Celtic Tri, probably to stop me from starting a another new club !
TRIATHLON - COACH / MANAGER
In the year 2001 I was offered the position of Triathlon Academy Manager at Neath Port Talbot College. This was to be the first year for a Triathlon Academy and the college needed someone to provide an initial structure, attract athletes, provide coaching and equipment, they weren't asking much. Basically I was chucked in the deep end and told, we want a triathlon academy, make it happen !!!!! What they didn't tell me was that I needed to sign a contract, and put pay sheets in, it was 6 months before I saw any wages.
This was to be the first ever Triathlon Academy in Britain and the college's idea was to create several Academy's to attract students from outside the area so that they could also attract that student's funding. They had in the pipeline the 'Academy of Sport' at Llandarcy and although this wasn't aimed at triathlon, any base is a good base as long as you have changing facilities and a good training group. The most bizarre of these projected Academy's was the Modern Pentathlon Academy. A logistically tough sport with no known roots in the area.
Over three years of very frustrating, but rewarding work, I developed the Triathlon Academy at Neath Port Talbot College, not made easy by the fact that the college has two main campuses and they are eight miles apart. I had one athlete signed up when I started at the college and you've guessed it, he was in the other campus. The success of the Academy would not have been possible without the commitment of the athletes I was working with. Three in particular need a special mention, without them, the project WOULD have failed. Adrian Edwards and Ffion Davies are both outstanding athletes, Adrian became the Academy's first British international, representing Great Britain in New Zealand 2003 and Ffion became the first Welsh Champion (at Duathlon) and Welsh Triathlon international (London 2003). Special mention at this time should go to Louisa Scott, another one of our original athletes who arrived at the college championships (Cymmer Triathlon) after cycling 15 miles from the nearest train station at Maesteg - it wasn't just the distance but there were some serious hills in the way before she made the start line. It was through the dedication of these three athletes that I managed to get through the first year of the Academy at the college. The fact that they turned up and took part in sessions, they did the races and this meant that the Academy increased it's strength in the inaugural year. Triathlon is not an easy sport, getting up at 6.00am in the morning to be in the pool for 7.00am, to swim two miles before breakfast is not everyone's cup of tea. Then to go running at lunchtime or maybe cycling after college and yes ! can hear you ask the question, do people really do that ? Finding kids aged 16 or 17 to do this is not easy. I knew I could make the Academy work, I knew there were kids that wanted to commit to a sport out there, I used to be one myself, a long long time ago of course.
I had a five year plan which would see 10 - 12 quality local athletes training together, racing together, achieving together. It would be then that the triathletes from outside the area would see what was happening at Neath and would come flocking to the college to be part of the Academy. So what the college immediately wanted and what was physically possible were 5 years apart. I was spending a lot of time at the college, the work was taking over, on top of writing programmes for the athletes, coaching 5 - 8 Academy sessions per week. In line with the five year plan I was developing a successful feeder system with the Multisport Racing Club. There were only 6 taking part in our first kids session on a Tuesday night, but this session peaked at 24 athletes in the first year, all of whom took part in a run/bike session on the Cwrt Herbert Ash track. Several of those athletes went on to become Welsh Internationals and Champions. In fact I had 3 Welsh champions lined up for Academy future years. and another 6 students, 3 of whom were internationals for the next year. I had helped to start an after school Triathlon Club at Llangatwg Comprehensive School, 10 kids were coming once a week for coaching to the college, I was attending school athletics meets and swim galas, talking to kids who were possible candidates for the Academy, I had kids introducing themselves and asking if they could join next year. For the first time I had a group of quality international athletes, the five year plan was on track, then they pulled the plug. The College suddenly found they were a million pounds in debt, a hatchet man was brought in as principal. I was offered a cut from 12 hours (I was working approx 25 per week) to 7. There was no way I could manage on a cut of these proportions, the work load was about to increase with the next batch of students, the old maxim 'if you do something do it well' came into play so I resigned as Academy Manager and came back to Rugby Relics full time.
If any of my former students (Louisa Scott, Alex David, Adrian Edwards, Geraint Davies, Kristian Archer, Adrian Edwards, Ffion Davies, Phil Thomas, Steve Davies, Chris Morris, Ricky Langdon, Stuart Henderson, Sandra Leyman, Natasha Harry, Natalie Lawrence, James Parfitt, Kayleigh Moses, Sian Walker, Rachel Carney, Adrienne Knight, & James 'Otto' Layzell), are reading this, thank you for your support, you were all great to work with. If you are one of the students who I left at the college or one who was coming to join me at the college in the coming years. I apologise for the lack of management skills and foresight at the college, I really enjoyed working with you all without exception as your coach, we had great times and good memories. I wish you all good luck with your futures and don't forget to GRIN WHEN YOU WIN ! Shy-away
2005 footnote - 3 out of 4 of the Welsh champions in the junior age group categories at the Welsh Triathlon Championships this year were athletes who were on the Academy development programme.
I now coach occasional sessions at Celtic Tri sessions and in 2006 I run the first Celtic Tri training camp in France. For more details of this CLICK HERE. I qualified as a level 2 triathlon coach in 2008, 7 years after initially taking the course.
FOR PERSONAL TRAINING AND COACHING WITH DAI PLEASE VISIT
Presbyterian Church, Western Avenue, I'm pretty sure I was
christened here by a minister called John Thomas, maybe ! The minister at
the time I attended the church was Bill Steed, he had quite a large family
with wife Jill and children Jonathan, Andrew, Philip, Joel and I think
Peter. My classmates at Sunday school were John Tetsil (Noj), Ian Jones (Junto),
Jeremy Isaac (Jesse), Andrew Paddison (Paddy), Keith Hughes (Ugsy) &
Jonathan Steed. Other regular attendees that I can remember were the
Cumpstone family Doug & Jean, Adam, Joy, Gerald, Hubert Richards,
Jill, David & Bethan Rees, Claire Rose & mum, Spike & Edith,
Judith & Rob Emmett, Mrs Ray Evans the organist, Diane & Vivien
Chamberlain & parents, the Colburn family of Western Avenue. If I've
left anyone out please email me.
'The day the earth moved' as a piano we were moving from one room in the church to another toppled over and landed smack bang on my right foot. Mr Cumpstone rushed me to the A&E at Port Talbot Hospital in his Bedford van where I received 7 stitches in my foot, without anaesthetic, ouch !
Whitsun march - Every year we'd march the streets of Sandfields, not sure why but we did it every Whitsun, in our best clothes then on return have a serious slap up feast, I always remember mounds and mounds of sandwiches and then the sports. Usually we'd race, sprints, egg and spoon & sack race and get money prices 3d (three old pence) for 1st, 2d for 2nd and a penny for third.
Bryn-y-Groes, Bala - Every year we'd go to Bala for a weeks 'bible study' and activities, we'd sleep 4 or 6 to a dorm usually with one adult to keep us in line. The dorm I was in mostly was Ty Ddewi which had a little attic. The week would fly by with chess, draughts and table tennis tournaments and trips up mountains or to Harlech, Criccieth castle and of course girls, it was a great opportunity to make new friends. Those I can remember are Mandy and her cousin from Cardiff, Julia from Cardiff, the girls from Nantwich, Heather from Llansantfraid, Tim and Steve from Haverfordwest.
Infants & Junior School, Marine Drive, 1965 - 1971, Classmates
- Keith Matthews, Linda Matthews, Diane ???, Stephen Pearce, Robert
Andrews, Robert Dunkley, Julie Perkins, Sonia Stanton, Neil Harries, Gary
Watkins, Keith Hughes, Brian Beckett, Paula Beckett, Nigel Isaacs, David
Allsop, David Roberts, Terrance Earland, Terry John, Clare Rose, Mark
Downton, Paul Bamsey. Teachers Scarface, Mr Harrison, Ron Jones, Mr Bamsey
(head), Miss Mahoney, Mr Thomas
Moonwalk - The day that man first walked on the moon Mr Thomas brought a portable television into school for his class to watch Armstrong take his first steps. This was happening while the rest of the school were having assembly. The head was looking for a boy and girl to watch the 'first steps' with Mr Thomas and report back to assembly with the news. The two he was to choose were to be the straightest at sitting up and keeping still (classic teacher strategy that). The head couldn't choose because everyone was like a pillar of stone so he choose the two children who had taken the bible reading which happened to be Julie Thomas (in Welsh) and myself (in English), awesome, I can't remember anything else about it, when we got back we said something like 'yes ! they walked on the moon'.
Bannisters - if there was a banister I'd slide it, one day I stayed on too long and a sharp bit at the end caught my leg. When I got home that evening I showed my Mum, Dad took me to the hospital for 3 stitches. I got off early each time after that.
Scarface - One teacher, we used to call him 'scarface' hated me. I'd spend hours standing outside the room in the naughty corner (it wasn't known as a 'naughty corner' in those days). When he marked our work he'd sit in his seat at the front of the class and fling our exercise books straight at you shouting your name first followed be a comment. I can always remember his favourite words as my book left his hand 'RICHARDS ! UTTER RUBBISH'.
Lido Sports Centre and Swimming Pool, I spent so much time
there it could be regarded as my second home. At one time in the early
1980s I'd spend at least 8 - 10 hours there every day, playing squash,
badminton & table tennis.
Friday nights in the mid 1970s was Badders (badminton) night. Noj (John Tetsill), Anthony Jones, Paula & Brian Beckett and I used to play badminton every Friday night in the Lido. We'd walk down through Sandfields passing by the Four Winds & Hotel Executive (now the Aberafan Hotel), occasionally popping into the Executive to play the new electronic machines, the first they had if I remember correctly was the old tennis type for two people, then they had the machine where you had to knock the bricks out of a wall and try and get behind the wall, I can't remember it's name but it was seriously addictive. On reaching the Lido we used to buy our tickets for badminton but first we'd play on the pinball machines, they were seriously addictive. (The first pinball machines I can remember in the Lido were so old they didn't even have flippers). Replays were few and far between but when we made them we let the whole world know. Badders was usually doubles, occasionally the courts were full and we played winners stayed on against other doubles teams but generally we played amongst ourselves. On the way home it was into Franco's on the beach front for pastie and chips (awesome chips and they still are !) and back to Noj's house for cards (Sergeant Major if we were 3 or Chase the Bitch if we were 4 or more) - we were compulsive competitors always competing against each other and when we won we'd mercilessly taunt the losers. All good fun though unless you'd lost !!!!!
More memories to follow............... if you can remember any that I haven't listed...............
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