This week Bill Carne met up with an old sporting friend in Phil Davies, now playing sport in Cardiff but previously well-known as a very good sporting all-rounder in Neyland . . .

Phil Davies loves playing cricket for Cardiff Cavaliers now that he lives in the capital city but he is well known locally as a very useful cricketer with Neyland since he was a nipper who also played for Pembrokeshire in age-group competitions - and who represented the club in Harrison-Allen Bowl and DR Morris Cup Finals.

He moved to Cardiff some seven years ago after attending the wedding of old friend Mark Sutton and meeting a nice young lady named Laura whom he got on great with - and he's still there after popping the question and being answered in the affirmative by someone who has supported him ever since!

But Phil readily admits that he missed his cricket involvement and one day he sat at his desk in work and Googled for information on clubs looking for players and contacted them - and found the team captain was none other than Jimmy Marchant, who used to play for Haverfordwest!

He was made welcome from the very first time he turned up and plays in the Cardiff Midweek League against some very useful teams that play on quality grounds at St Fagans, whilst the Cavaliers have their home matches at the Cathedral School Ground in Llandaff.

"I really enjoy playing with some interesting characters but there's still nothing like playing for my home town club and whenever I'm home I always let them know I'm available and happy to help out any of our three teams."

Phil started out in Neyland around the time the juniors were coached by Mike Tennick and Brian Keen and is full of praise for their efforts, as he is now with Martin Jones.

"They are the backbone of the club and I owe Neyland coaches a great deal," said Phil, "as do a lot of others who are playing so well for the senior side now."

He started out by walking around the Athletic Ground with his dad Martin and loved watching the late Jackie Capon playing.

"Jackie was always ready to spend time with me and he really showed me how to pick up a bat and strike through the ball - and by the time I was 11 I was playing for the third team on the artificial wicket with him as my hero!

"I once opened with Jack with the thirds and we put on 180 runs - and I was nine not out!"

Phil also played through the age groups with the county team from under 11s to under 16s where I was helped a lot by Richard Harris, Stuart Beresford and Glyn Pawlett in a good team which included Dai Davies (Haverfordwest), Will Beresford (Llangwm), Paul White (Pembroke), Jonathan Pawlett (St Ishmaels),  Mark Harries (Cresselly) and Simon Driscoll (Pembroke).

"I also played for Dyfed Schools and it was my involvement there which led me to switch from pace bowling to off spinners on the advice of Glamorgan's long-serving Tony Cottee when Tony saw me bowling in the nets.

"I played in one Ormond Cup Final against Haverfordwest, but ended up on the losing side, with players of the calibre of John Jones, Scott John, Jeremy Charles and Mike Delahaye."

On the senior front Phil soon moved into second-team cricket when he was 14 or 15, where he was well looked after by Martin Jones and Jack Capon - and made his first team debut a year later at a time when the club had been relegated and some of the old stalwarts had stepped down.

"Luckily we had a lot of talented players like Andrew and Gregg Miller, Paul Murray, John Jones, Jeremy Charles, Sean and Patrick Hannon, Ian Charles, John Tennick, Andrew Slark and Andrew Hansen, whilst Gary Lloyd was in his prime with his slow stuff.

"We were soon back in the first division and had a successful period with so many confident players and we made it to the final of the DR Morris Cup after edging home in the previous round to Lawrenny.

"It was a tense finish there because we needed five runs with two balls to go and I surprised everyone by shouldering arms to the first one - and suddenly realised what I had done and made amends by hitting the last ball for six!

"Then we played Haverfordwest in the final but sadly lost!"

It was a similar story when Neyland reached their first Harrison-Allen Bowl Final since 1983, when it was washed out on the Saturday and they lost a day later despite the fact that Andrew Miller was deservedly chosen as man of the match.

"We were gutted," admitted Phil, "and another time I was disappointed came in a season when my bowling was on top form and I topped the first division bowling averages after taking five-wicket hauls in all the first five games of the season.

"I was really proud but had to chuckle inwardly when the memento had me named as 'Paul Davies'!"

Phil hails from a rugby-playing family where his father Martin was captain of Neyland Seconds' for about ten years and his step-father Peter Davies is still involved in team management after many years as a tough player. He would also nominate his mum Jill as his best supporter - and always made sure his kit was spotless before matches!

"I set out as a nipper and played scrum half for Neyland's junior teams across the age groups - but the All Blacks didn't have a youth team so I played for Haverfordwest in a useful side which included Welsh international Jonathan Thomas, Paul Luke, Nathan Williams and Simon Lepetit as good 'minders', which was just as well because in one match at Llanelli Wanderers I made a comment to the crowd and they were waiting for me when we went back to the bus.

"When they saw I was with some big forwards they soon departed, but not before giving me a real dose of the verbals!"

Then he moved up into the seconds where Martin was hooker and told him when to put the ball into the scrum - and Phil's reply of 'OK dad' had both packs in fits of laughter!

Phil also played some badminton with Neyland, where his doubles partner was Andrew Barry at St Clements Hall - but it has always been the case that cricket is his first sporting love.

This shone through when I bumped into Phil Davies for a short chat when he was home recently and it was a pleasure to take a walk down Memory Lane with someone who enjoys living in Cardiff but is still very much a Neyland and Pembrokeshire lad through and through!