As the new cricket season approaches Bill Carne was delighted to meet up with Mickey Marsh, who is the chairman of Kilgetty CC and a qualified umpire, as well as being a very good table tennis player who plays in the Swansea League . . .

Mickey Marsh is perhaps best known in Pembrokeshire Sporting circles as the popular chairman of Kilgetty Cricket Club, where his sons Jake, Kyle and Kurtis have all made significant contributions over recent seasons.

He has also settled in well as an umpire who started last season after passing the Pembrokeshire Association of Cricket Umpires and Scorers' examination and the national ACO exam, after being well-tutored by Huw Davies and Trefor Evans.

But what is not so well known is the fact that Mickey is one of the top table-tennis players in the county who plays for Carmarthen TTC's team in the Swansea Senior League's premiership division and he more than holds his own there, despite being 53 years young!

All the games at that level are played on the same evening at Morriston Leisure Centre and he is joined by Alan Griffiths of Pembroke in a very high standard where he plays left handed and uses the distinctive 'pen holder' grip made famous by the Chinese players who have ruled the sport for so many years.

"My style of play does some to confuse some opponents, especially with regard to my spin services, which are a major weapon in my game plan," he admitted with a chuckle.

Like a lot of experienced players, Mickey began his involvement at his local youth club as a teenager and was soon catching the eye with his natural speed around the table and the versatility of his general play.

"One evening I was playing with some friends from school and started using the pen-holder grip for fun when the club coach spotted me and felt I had potential - but insisted I carried on in that style

"Before long I was selected for the Kent Junior Squad against other nearby counties and also played regularly in the Tunbridge and District League which had seven divisions so it was nice to start at the bottom, gradually gain experience and eventually play regularly in the top section.

"By the time I was 17 I had played in the UK National Championships against the likes of Carl Preene, who was eventually No 1 in the UK after Desmond Douglas - and I got to know them both quite well.

"But then work commitments kept me away from the game until we moved to Pembrokeshire, with my wife Kathryn, who has always been my greatest supporter, and helped set up a new club when the Tenby Leisure Centre opened up.”

On the cricket front, Mickey set out playing for Southborough, a little village between Tonbridge and Tonbridge Wells, and really enjoyed his time there.

"I used to play as an all-rounder who batted at No 4, bowled seam-up and hid in the slips whenever I possibly could in fielding in a standard which was roughly the same as the first division here.

"I had a top score of 67 and took a few five-wicket hauls but again my work in London brought about a halt.

"I had visited Pembrokeshire on a regular basis as a kid to visit my grandparents in Tenby and when we finally moved to the county I was pleased that my sons Jake, Kyle and Kurtis joined Kilgetty and although I had a few games by then my focus was on helping them to develop their cricketing skills.

"There was a time when all three were doing well for the club's first team but then Jake joined The Navy - but he was stationed near enough to Southborough to be able to join my old club, which we all thought was great.

"So it was nice at the end of last season when we arranged a short tour to Southborough and all four of us were involved; with Jake playing well for Southborough, Kyle and Kurtis scoring some runs for Kilgetty - and me in the middle as an umpire in both games!"

The clubs had planned to play two full games but the Kilgetty bus broke down en route so they had to play a 20/20 evening match and then a full fixture the next day.

"We lost the evening match but at least had the excuse that we were tired after so long travelling - and won the all-day match to back up our view," said Mickey.

Mickey was delighted three years ago when he was asked to become chairman of Kilgetty CC and is still in post and trying to do anything he can to support great characters like Graham and Rose Jenkins, Hazel Poole and her son Ian in all that they do.

He also helped coach juniors for a while and with Neyland's Martin Jones took charge of a talented Pembrokeshire junior team that won the Welsh title for their age group at Ynysangharad Park in Pontypridd.

"They were a very talented group that not only included Kurtis and Martin's son Scott but had players of the calibre of Daf Bevan, Tom Pritchard, Gary Thompson and Grant Jones to name but a few."

And then last season he took the umpires' courses alongside Richard Scriven and although work prevented him doing too many weekend games he really enjoyed officiating evening cup games where he was made welcome by the players and his colleagues.

"I was pleased to be asked to umpire the Ken Morris Cup Final in Narberth with Neil Croucher and really enjoyed my first two-innings a side game."

Micky has also gone from strength to strength in table tennis because he thoroughly enjoys his involvement in Carmarthen alongside the likes of Kurtis and Alan Griffiths, who has become a good friend and with whom he has enjoyed some good competition.

This intrepid pair used to represent Texaco in quality tournaments at venues all over the UK and once caused a bit of a surprise as they won the competition when it was held in Aberdeen, after previously going close in Belfast.

"I shall continue taking part as long as I enjoy it because the standard has really improved and we compete against players from China, Germany, France, plus others who started out much more locally."

It is the same in cricket because Mickey has earned a reputation as a genuine character and great supporter of the game across the county, as he proved when he recently turned up to watch Haverfordwest beat Gorseinon and Pentyrch in the Welsh Indoor Finals at Tenby.

He typifies all that is good in both his sports and long may he continue to be involved because sport in Pembrokeshire really does need lovely people like Mickey Marsh!