This week Bill Carne chatted to Matthew Fox about his coaching commitment to local football in general and Clarbeston Road in particular after a long time as a player in Pembrokeshire . . .

There is no doubt that when Matthew Fox returned to Clarbeston Road this season there was a really positive approach by the players and committee, who were delighted to see him back after a year out when he found it hard to devote enough time to his previous role as co-manager.

Matthew was then approached by current player/manager Matthew Ellis and chairman Steve Brown to help out one evening a week and any Saturdays he could fit in, he needed no second bidding and was quickly back in action – and must be doing some good work with a relatively young side because at the time of writing this article Clarbie were a creditable fourth in the top echelon of Pembrokeshire Football!

When Darren Long decided it was time to step down as manager it was perhaps inevitable that Matthew should be asked to take over the Clarbie reins but with older son Kieran (11) already playing well and younger son Caden (8) showing the sort of promise that has seen him taking part with the Swansea City Academy he knew that he wouldn't have time to do the job justice.

"It wasn't the commitment needed on Saturdays that worried me but the heavy work load that sometimes in midweek and especially on Friday evening in making sure that we had a full squad and everyone knew where they were going, sorting out the transport and the kit, and any other jobs that unexpectedly came up but had to be dealt with."

It was a hard decision to make and he was delighted that Matthew Ellis should take over the reins – and his decision was softened by the fact the he still fancied being involved for one last season as a player and allowed himself to be 'persuaded' by Damian Ellis to return to Prendergast Villa.

"I played at centre back and arguably as the deepest lying defender in the league because there were so many young players with pace to burn and didn't mind in the least making me look on the slow side," admitted Matthew with a rueful chuckle!

"I enjoyed playing again but knew it was time to hang up my boots - and it was then that Matthew and Steve Brown asked me if I fancied returning to deal with the fitness aspect of the team and I now spend Thursday evenings putting the lads through their paces - and being involved on Saturdays if Caden doesn't have a game in Swansea.

"I also help out a little with ball skills and tactics and it is great to see the club doing so well at the moment and in the semi-final again of the Senior Cup.

"We still have experienced plyers like Matthew (Ellis), Jason Griffiths and Dan Rees but we have talented young players like Tom Reubens and Josh Wood, plus some very useful members of our ex-under 16 team looking good in the seconds under the watchful eye of Jason Wood."

Not content with his involvement at Clarbeston Road, however, he is using his coaching expertise alongside Marco Siso at the Haverfordwest County Academy's under 11 squad which trains on Friday evenings and plays mainly on a Sunday along the M4 corridor against the likes of Afan Nedd, Afan Lid and Risca.

"I also enjoy coaching the under 11s at Prendergast Villa, not only because Kieran plays there but because there is a good bunch of players and their families involved - and as well as coaching I am the Child Welfare Officer who makes sure that all the paperwork regarding the well-being of young players is carefully checked.

In his young playing days Matthew started his football on the Upper Racecourse with Wyndham Owens at Scarrowscant United, where he says he was far more pacy and played on the wing then for Merlins Bridge and Haverfordwest County with Trevor Morgans.

"At 16 I started playing in the back four for the Bluebirds seconds alongside very experienced players like Mark Lowe, Nicky Smith, Dai and Steve John, so I was looked after by some hard men!

"We won the third division, followed by the second division as Jamie Cato, Dai Upward, Darren Jones and Darren Sash were also included - but best of all was the fact that I also played in Haverfordwest County's first team in the newly-formed McWhirter League, which was coached by Mickie Ellis and included very good players like Tom Billing, Nico Algieri, Niall O'Connor, Paul Luke, plus Trevor Wright and Craig Rearden in goal.

"Then it was on to the University of the West of England in Bristol and after playing there I came home to play alongside Adrian Blundell, Darren O'Leary, Damien Ellis, Scott Crawford and Steve Allen at Prendergast Villa.

"From there it was back to Haverfordwest County, where Andrew Sargeant was manager and we nicknamed him Jose Mourinho and bought him a coat in a jumble sale that looked like the one 'The Special One' always wore!

Matthew played for Clarbie for the four previous years as centre half and in that time they won the Second Division Cup, the first in 2013/14 against Solva and then recently against Monkton, where they took the lead in the first half, trailed 2-1 and then scored twice, the winner a real corker by Tom Glover.

"We were really thrilled and celebrated in style back at the Cross Inn in Clarbie. It was no more than the boys deserved because they had listened to Darren and me all season.

"We were also delighted for the great servants of the club like Huw Bevan, Del Lewis Steve Brown and Mostyn Phillips, who still keeps the changing rooms clean. Then there's June Harries as secretary and we dedicated our success to her late husband Phil, who used to run the line and demonstrated all that is good at Clarbeston Road.

"I was chuffed when Darren Long asked me to join him as manager and the undoubted highlights were winning the Second Division Cup (they beat Monkton Swifts 3-2) and gaining promotion to the first division.”

And that is where Matthew finds himself now and still loving all that he does in football;  who really enjoyed his playing days but is now putting a lot back into his favourite game - and long may such characters of the game continue to put something back into their sport - as Matthew Fox clearly does in local football!