This week Bill Carne met up with Jason Morgan to chat about his yeoman work in organising ‘Sporting Evenings’ at Neyland Athletic Club featuring internationally-known guest speakers like Zinzan Brook and Nigel Owens . . .

When Zinzan Brook made a hugely successful appearance at Neyland Athletic Club for a 'Sporting Night Out' enjoyed by almost 100 fascinated rugby lovers, no-one was more relieved and delighted than Jason Morgan, because he and pal Johnny Sutton had organised what the enthusiastic duo hope will be a regular feature in the club's main hall.

Jason is currently the club's administrator and Johnny is the licensee and they decided that part of their remit is a challenge to raise the athletic club's profile so that such functions are an integral part of their calendar.

"Zinzan was a brilliant first choice as guest speaker because he attracted rugby lovers from as far afield as Milford Haven, Haverfordwest, Llangwm, Pembroke and Pembroke Dock, who all loved the format of having Zinzan sitting on a sofa on the staging, as well as having the chance to meet up with old adversaries to chat about their own former days in the game.

"He was joined by former Welsh rugby international Rupert Moon as MC and question master, and local rugby referee Charlie Watts as if it was his front room and he was ready for a quiet night until a ringing of the bell revealed two special guests!

"Other highlights of the evening,” said Jason, "were the special hot buffet supplied by Scott Gregory and Co at Caddies Cafe in Freystrop, plus the silent auction provided by Matthew Jones of the Events Room.

"The grub was praised by everyone in attendance and Matthew ensured there were almost 40 items that included signed memorabilia from top names in sport, plus the chance to buy a place at some fantastic dinners and other events with top sporting personalities.

"As a club we also appreciated that we had a New Zealander of his calibre because Neyland are the only British club allowed to have the silver fern as part of their own club badge.

“And there was such a demand for another such evening that we set off immediately and were able to secure the services of another top star in Nigel Owens, surely the best referee in the world, who readily agreed to join us for an evening.

“The format was exactly the same and we had the services of Charlie as a sort of specialty act, alongside Mr Owens as the top of our bill – plus Scott Gregory’s food and the memorabilia from Matthew at the Events Room.”

Jason certainly hails from a rugby background because as a nipper he played for Tycroes juniors youth and then first team, whilst also turning out at a slightly higher level at Llandybie before going back to Tycroes, where his dad Terence was chairman for 18 years and had huge experience of organising charity events via his work as a PR director with Tarmac.

“I went to loads of events and got to know the likes of Sir Gareth Edwards, JJ Williams, JPR Williams, Barry John, Clive Rowlands and Ieuan Evans, plus Glamorgan and England cricketer Robert Croft, as dad organised matches between local clubs and celebrity XVs, sponsored clubs like Llanelli and Neath, had a box in the Millennium Stadium for 13 years.

“I also played in some games, including one where dad helped raise funds for a library in an old folks’ home, where I joined the likes of Mike Ruddock, Alan Phillips, Paul Thorburn, Gareth and Glyn Llewellyn for a Tycroes Select XV against the club team.”

But Jason’s playing career wasn’t helped by the fact that he was often busy at work on weekends and it was whilst working at Dow Corning in Cardiff he played for Fairwater, from where he moved with the company to Pembrokeshire, having already met up with Andrew ‘Bob’ Williams whilst both were employed in Cardiff.

“When Bob knew I was moving to this county he asked me to play for Neyland and it was one of the better moves in my sporting life because I had three great seasons there, playing second row with Chris Busby and Scott Gregory alongside other terrific characters like Nicky Greggain, Mathew Williams, Colin Picton, Ted Tamilia and Peter Davies on the field, plus Rod Chamberlain, Graham Richards and John Laugharne off it, before injury meant I had to call a halt to playing.

“During that time I needed something to keep me busy and so I started to clear out the club’s old squash courts and then carried on with work outside , as well as helping to run the club if Graham was away – and when he moved away to England with work I joined Johnny Sutton in helping to run the club.”

“I could only do it with the full support of my wife Pia, who has been fantastic alongside my lovely daughters Jessica, Phoebe and Amber, whilst our son Iori (7) looks ready to carry on the Morgan sporting mantle as he plays rugby and football in teams coached by dad; and cricket with a great bunch who help him at Neyland."

And so we move on to this year, where the ‘Sporting Evenings’ have made such a memorable start.

“I was thrilled we managed to book Zinzan since I loved watching him when I was younger because he could do everything on the rugby field; score tries, kick conversions, drop goals and tackle like a demon.

“He was a gentleman to work with and spent ages signing autographs and having ‘selfies’ taken, speaking to local press and radio, so that he was at the clubhouse far longer than he needed to be.

“We had spent ages decorating the stage with rugby graffiti and went a step further for Nigel Owens, which the audience seemed to like, and it was generally agreed that the evening was another huge success.

So what of the future for Jason now?

“We have plans for more such events, perhaps with stars from other sports, but so much depends on what people tell us they are prepared to come to, because of the inevitable cost involved.”

It is naturally a huge responsibility to organise these events with such famous stars because of the inevitable costs but Jason and Johnny are determined to carry on their venture, despite the risk of financial loss themselves if it didn’t go well.

They have done a brilliant job so far and we wish Jason continued success as he is beginning to put Neyland on the after-dinner speaking map – and hopefully provide more evenings like the brilliant ones so far!