WHEN Matthew Davies runs out in the 2018 Senior Cup Final for Clarbeston Road against Hakin United he will almost certainly be able to claim a unique record.

It will be his second successive final appearance and not many players over the years would be able to match or beat that achievement - but after some careful research we have been unable to find another player who was goalkeeper for all his first final and then the other in an outfield position.

Matthew stood between the sticks in the 2016/17 final against Merlins Bridge, the first and only appearance thus far for Clarbie in their 60-odd years of existence, although he had to endure the disappointment of losing by 2-1 to The Wizards.

“We were clear underdogs but started well enough before The Bridge opened the scoring when a low shot by Joe Leahy beat me - which still bugs me as I feel I could have dealt with it better.

“So I was relieved when Mike Turpin scored a goal with a cross whipped in from a free kick deceived their defence and went in to the far corner with everyone leaving it to someone else!

“And that’s the way things stayed until late on and extra time looked a possibility as neither keeper had to make many saves - until Chris Ormond popped up for The Bridge and shot home in a packed box.

“We were naturally disappointed for ourselves but also for the real characters in the club like Huw Bevan, Steve Brown, June Harries and Delwyn Lewis who had waited so long for the club to play in a prestigious final.

“We had a pint at the Conygar Bridge Meadow Stadium after the presentations and then went back to the Cross Inn in Clarbie for a buffet and the chance to drown our sorrows, before going on to win division two as consolation with a 5-2 final-day match against Saundersfoot Sports.”

Matthew had played in goal because when he was a nipper he was always the last line of defence - so when Clarbie found themselves without a regular keeper he was ‘coaxed’ back in that position and played there in the semi-final against previous holders Goodwick United and produced an outstanding team performance, led by player/manager Matthew Ellis and skipper Jason Griffiths.

“We started as outsiders again but Josh Wood grabbed the winner and we were in the final as a second division team but pushed an experienced opposition all the way.”

At the start of this season the main focus had to be maintaining their position in the top echelon, with Matthew pleased to be playing as part of a three-man midfield since manager Ellis likes playing with a back five.

But they started of this year’s Senior Cup journey with a first round bye and then a 6-1 success against St Clears, followed by a desperately close tussle against Hundleton where two goals by Jason Griffiths saw them 2-1 in front with the referee looking at his watch.

“But Hundleton equalised and extra time looked a certainty - but there was still time for Jason to grab his hat-trick and we breathed a sigh of relief!”

Suddenly they were in the semi-final against the side which beat them the year before and Matthew told us: “We were in our regular role as underdogs but felt relaxed before the floodlit fixture at the Bridge Meadow, where we took the lead after 25 minutes with a Tom Rubens’ goal.

Chris Ormond claimed the equaliser after about 85 minutes but when Ieuan Cooke came on instead of me late on his shot from outside area took a nasty deflection and we held on to reach our second final on the trot!”

Outside of his early football, Matthew was also a useful tennis player who managed to reach county finals, and represented Sir Thomas Picton School in numerous sports including rugby, despite admitting to having very little knowledge of the tactics!

But it was football that was always his favourite after starting out at Clarbeston Road at under 9 level and playing there in goal until under 14s with Matthew Freeman in charge of the team - but when Clarbie didn’t have a side for a season he played up front for Camrose and scored 20 goals.

“Laurie Haworth was my strike partner and is still a good friend, whilst Damian Haworth was our coach - and again I played in two under 16 cup finals in a row; in goal for Clarbie as we lost 5-0 to Hakin United and then with Camrose in a 5-2 defeat against Milford United, both at the Conygar Bridge Meadow Stadium.

“I also played at right back for Clarbie and scored our only goal in a 3-1 Third Division Final defeat at the hands of Broad Haven so that I’m still looking for my first win in any cup final!” he says with a rueful chuckle!

It is good to report that Matthew puts something back into his sport because during his time at Cardiff Met University he took his football leaders’ award and his Grade C coaching qualifications and coaches the universities football academy u12 squad.

“We train twice a week and play matches on Sunday. I am now also looking forward to completing my UEFA B Licence which is now is the next big step-up in my coaching experience.

“Ultimately I would love to have a job in the sporting sector, either away from home or if possible within the Pembrokeshire area... and also a Senior Cup winners medal!”

There’s one thing for sure: whatever Matthew Davies does he will do it with his typical enthusiasm and great humour because he loves his sport - and we wish him every success because he deserves it!