This week Bill Carne was delighted to meet up for a chat with Kevin Jenkins, one of the most respected cricketers and football players in the county who has made a welcome return to the county after a long spell working in Nigeria . . .

Someone who made a welcome return to Pembroke Cricket Club midway through the 2017 season after a six-year gap when he was working in Nigeria, is Kevin Jenkins, who captained the club's first team for nine seasons and was the first-ever captain to lead them to victory in the Harrison-Allen Bowl Final.

Known to all as 'Jenks' he also captained Angle Football Club and played over 600 matches for the seaside club as a busy midfield player - and he would readily admit that the unavailability of both sports was the major drawback to his working on the huge gas plant at Astravos, in the Delta Region of Nigeria.

"We lived in a compound in the knowledge that it wasn't safe to leave there and explore the surrounding countryside, but we worked long hours for 28 successive days and then flew home for 27 very welcome days of rest and recuperation.

"Facilities for sport were very limited there but we did have a gym, which to be honest wasn't really my cup of tea, plus darts, snooker and table tennis.

"I did enjoy a few pints with a few other ex-pats in the canteen but we worked such long days (often starting at 5.30am, that we were glad to have early nights in our bunks!"

Jenks was 51 when he saw the advert for the work in Nigeria and almost on a whim decided to apply - and pretty soon he was on his way after an interview.

"To say it was an eye-opener is a real understatement," Jenks admitted, " as I didn't know anyone else there after we flew via Amsterdam and Lagos, and there was an air of tension at the airport that I have never experienced before so that I was glad when some representatives turned up with a couple of security men for company!"

"During my time there I missed my cricket at Treleet immensely, not surprisingly because I had played there for 40 years without a break, starting out as a raw 11 year old and loving it straight away.

“By the time I was 15 I had made me senior debut for the second team against old rivals Pembroke Dock and it was only because skipper Kevin Watkins didn't have a full team - but I took 3 for 18 and found myself in the team from then on!

"By the time I was 17 I had claimed a place in the first team alongside terrific characters like George and Keith Hulbert, Johnnie Jones, Eifion Powell, Derek Skone, Mike Hughes and Ray Kane: and enjoyed every minute of it.

"At 21 I became the youngest captain in the club's history and did the job from 1983 to 85, plus other spells from 1989 to 1981, then 1994, 2001 and 2008 so I'm proud of the fact that my name is on the captain's board nine times, the second most behind a real club legend in Derek Hayward.

"The highlight has to be the 1985 season when I was the first captain to lead Pembroke to victory in the Harrison-Allen Bowl Final, beating Cresselly by one run in a real thriller.

"I had to bowl the last over and with Cresselly needing one run to tie things up I took a wicket from the last ball to give us the silverware - and in the following season we made it a double under the excellent leadership of Stewart Longhurst.

"It proved a good time for us because in both seasons we also won the Jubilee Cup, beating champions Haverfordwest on our ground and then Carew at Kilgetty, with players like Mal Roberts, Colin Kaijaks, Nigel Phillips, Bill Carne and Hugh Davies also involved.”

Jenks has always enjoyed his cricket and played with a smile but if there was a downside it stems from a real highlight because he was always delighted to play for Pembrokeshire, even if it meant taking time off from work.

“I played over 20 times for Pembroke County Cricket Club, including a debut against the South Wales League where he claimed 1 for 20 as Linton Lewis smashed a big century for the opposition.

“I also went on tours to Ireland and Birmingham and skippered the county team for a season and really had support from the players chosen around  me, but I was never offered my county cap, which was a huge disappointment because I would have worn it with pride,” he admitted.

On the football front at Angle it was a similar story as Jenks played there from the time he was 18, having been persuaded by club secretary  and cricket colleague Mike Hughes, who started the club off with Peter Thomas (chairman) and Richard Lewis.

"I played midfield there for 22 unbroken years and managed over 600 games, including several second and third division cup finals and some promotions as well but we never played in the first division in my time so I am delighted to see our talented young squad in the top echelon and doing well at the moment.

"When I was home from Nigeria I tried to watch them whenever I could and when the club celebrated its 50th anniversary last season I was available at the right time to play  for a 'Past Players' team in one of the celebratory games.

"Like all the other old stagers I was really looking forward to getting my boots on again but it wasn't long after the first whistle that I realised I wasn't anywhere as fit as I thought I would be," admitted Jenks with a chuckle!

"I'm really looking forward to watching as many games as I can now," Jenks told us, "and it is going to be like 'Last of the Summer Wine' as I meet up with Steve 'Chick' Panton, Ian 'Wally' Walters, Haydn 'Dicky' Phillips and Peter Thomas to reminisce about our time as players."

Back on the cricket front, Jenks was not only club captain at Pembroke for those nine seasons but was groundsman at Treleet for more than 15 years, on the committee for 30 years, four of them as chairman, and has been honoured with trusteeship over recent years.

“Enjoying the opposition’s company after matches, win or lose,  is one of the best parts of the game as far as I am concerned – play to win but enjoy a pint with opponents afterwards.”

It is something that he has done since he started out in the game and would say that he has been lucky to have made so many lasting friendships through sport. That is certainly true but ask top players from any club in the county to list their favourite opponents for a competitive edge linked to real sportsmanship and it is a fair bet that a large number would include Kevin Jenkins – and rightly so because he is a lovely character and a great sport!