Rhys Jones

Inside Alder Meadow - An interview with Pontblyddyn Legend Rhys "Flame" Jones

Pontblyddyn Legend : Rhys Jones

Introduction
Next up is current 1st XI Captain Rhys Jones. Flame is well known throughout the North Wales League and beyond, thanks to his high level of skill with the ball but also his ability to give any batsman he bowls at a few hints and tips throughout a game.

Playing for Pontblyddyn has always been a family affair for Rhys and he is well respected after years of service to the Club. He helped Pont win Division 1 (Premier Division) and Denbighshire Knockout in 1992 and has been a key part of some of the strongest sides, not just in Ponts history, but across North Wales during his time and more recently was the leading wicket taker in Ponts 2018 Division one winning side, showing his longevity and skill.

Here are his favourite bits about playing at the Bont (just don’t mention his 9 Wicket Haul around him).

First Memory
My earliest memories of the great game go back to watching my Dad play for Pontblyddyn and Bistre Church. I used to go and watch every game in my early years. My favourite player was a guy, you may know, called Paul Higginson.
Pontblyddyn also used to play annual games against Glamorgan, I remember them being great days.
My first memories playing would be with my great mate Phil Davies on his yard, the School Yard and on Holidays. I used to bowl all day at the Big Lad and not get the rascal out.
My first and only team has been Pontblyddyn starting at the Under 13 age group.

Favourite Game
At nearly 50 years old, trying to say the best game I’ve played in is very difficult. Most of the biggest games I’ve played in I’ve come off second best. I would like to pick two games. My first was the Denbighshire Knockout Final in 1992 against Llay over two legs (sixteen eight ball overs over two legs). A very close encounter that we just won, I got seven wickets in the match and closely pipped my partner Phil Snell for the Man of the Match award. This was the first real trophy I won, we celebrated in Chester with a few small sherries that’s for sure.

Second was a benefit game for John Probert, whose house had unfortunately burnt down. Featuring in the game were West Indians and Aussies. Our team consisted of Collis King, Rod Esthwick, Steve Dublin and Patrick Holder – Test and First Class players. I’ll leave it there as to why this was a memorable game. Collis has a BDM bat, he said you know what that means, I laughed, he said ‘bad damn man that’s what I am’. I played three times with Collis and I think he is the most charismatic and funny person I’ve ever met.

My favourite blogs will be recent and past as I’m fortunate enough to still be playing.

Best Personal Performance

  • This would obviously be my 9-27 against Llandudno in 1998 I think it was. Phil Davies was Skipper then and had six slips in
  • Hat Tricks against Hawarden Park and Bersham.

Best Cricketing Moment
  • Seeing my Dad take all 10 Wickets for Pontblyddyn against Pilkintons.
  • Also playing with my son Cayo last year at Hawarden Park.
Best Overseas Player
  • The best I played against was an Australian All Rounder who played for Halkyn called Glen Lalor. I hated him and he hated me, not that that was unusual. He was a great player and a right fiery bugger. He played a few seasons at Halkyn and they became a great side because of his influence there. After a few battles we became good friends I think and spent a great day at Old Trafford watching the Ashes, along with Perry and Phil.
  • More recently I would say McNeil from Bangor. Again a right character and competitor who hit the biggest six I’ve ever seen. Amazing talent and could back up his chat unlike myself.
Favourite Ground
Again this is difficult. Alder Meadow is special to me, as are a number of North Wales grounds. My favourite however is the old Hawarden Park ground on the Gladstone Estate. An amazing scenic ground, great wicket and within stumbling distance of Penymynydd.

Favourite Team to play against
I love the game, so love every team I play against. I used to love playing against a team from Chester, I think they used to be called Chester Centurians in the Chester Midweek League. They had a few Alvanley players who we had a few battles against in the Village Knockout. Brymbo were also a great team to play against because they had such great players.

Most Feared Opponent
I wouldn’t say I feared opponents but respected them, even if I didn’t show it. The formidable Brymbo batsmen were tough, Nige Roberts, Stu Williams and Mark Jones.
However I would say Stuart Mason of Marchweil who I only played against a few times got right into me and made me look useless. He was a great player and character, I think I learnt a few of my tongue skills from him. Got to know him well in the end, a true gent off the field but definitely not on it.
More recently I would say Dion Holden from Menai Bridge. A great friend who is that good he is really tough to play against.

Best Player Played With
  • In my early days at Pont I would have to say Inspector Mark Hughes. A great fielder, Captain and average bat. Seriously though an amazing batsman, very gritty and could build great innings. Marks only failing was he’s very poor at drinking.
  • More recently I would go with Phil and Glenn. I think we all know why I’ve chosen them, Phil is my best mate and Glenn drives me to the games. Two amazing players who have stood out in North Wales Cricket over the years.
Best Player Played Against
  • Has to be Nigel Roberts. Again, others have said all there is to say about Nige. Great bat, bowler and decent drinker. Bowling to him was so difficult, he had an amazing eye. Nige was closely followed by Stu Williams and Mark Jones.
  • Recently Dion Holden. I also really rated Tom Ducker from Hawarden and Duncan Midgley who plays for, actually not enough paper to list all of his clubs… Great batsman though.
Best Batsman Played With
  • Phil Davies, what a player. Shot selection, grit, concentration. Young players could learn a lot from watching him. I always watched Phil bat and see him build his innings and seen so many great ones from him over the years.
  • I used to love watching Jules bat also, an amazing talented all rounder. If you’ve seen him lately he is all round in a different way.
  • Lately I like Ben Mason, he has a lot of talent if he keeps working hard he can be a great player in North Wales.
Best Bowler Played With
  • Has to be Phil Snell, he was a great bowler for us and without his back op would of achieved a lot more. I also admired his off the field talent in his younger years.
  • Glenn Chambers as most of you know was also a fantastic swing bowler. Glenn always got the big wickets in games.
  • More recently I’d have to say Chris Moss. Mossy has come on leaps and bounds and is now a real threat.
  • One for the future hopefully is James Hughes. He has lots of talent and can hopefully become another Ginger Legend down the Bont.
Best Bowler Played Against
  • In the early years I always remember Shaun Roberts as being a fearsome bowler. As a youngster you always talk about how quick bowlers are, but he was quick and a real handful. A great bowler in a great side.
  • Spinner has to be Paul Jenkins. Played with and against Jenks and he is an amazing bowler. Something he isn’t shy in telling you. His stats in the best league around here vouch for that.
  • More recently Jack Rimmington. A great bowler who keeps running in taking wickets, has to be the best bowler in North Wales the past 10 Years.
Best in the Changing Room
  • Now boy we have had some fun over the years, and still do. My favourite part of the game. Hands down Mark Chambers and Mark Williams Scratcher. If I say anymore Inspector Hughes and his crew might come knocking on my door.
  • Glenn can command the ranks and a rendition of a recent pre match speech goes down very well and is an all-time classic.
Longest in the Shower
  • Steve Dublin from Barbados wins this. Myself and Scratch got back in our clothes when he stepped into the shower.
  • Adam Cliffe from the current group wins the Broom Handle Mouser award.
Best Drinking Partners
  • There’s been too many to mention. Phil and Jules have got to be up there, always had plenty of ale after every game, sadly this is a dying tradition these days. We used to have a problem with Jules car, it would only start after he had consumed six pints. We later found out he had bought the car off Briscoe and Bomber, another two legendary drinking partners.
  • Enjoy a few rums now with Mason, Griff and the lads. We’ve still got a few who can sink a few.
Favourite Drink
Guinness & Rum, drink of championnnnnnnnnsssssss 

Favourite Umpire
Strangely I’ve always thought I’ve got on well with Umpires. I think to be a great umpire you have had to have played the game or be a great character. I could make a long list of my favourites – Wilson Jones, Estyn Tattum a great friend of my Dads, Geoff Lloyd and David Ackroyd. I will say though David Alyn Williams, Paul Jones and the legendary Eric Rogers stand out for me. I love Eric’s humour. I one of the Collis King games Glenn has Collis plums in front LBW, Eric Not Out. Glen in his usual fashion wasn’t happy and let Eric know this. Collis was only on about 5 at the time and Eric said in response to Glen ‘Chambers they’ve come to watch him bat, not you bowl! Now shut up and get on with it’. How do you answer that back.

Pont All Time XI – Old
1)     Hughsie
2)     Phil
3)     Glenn
4)     Lamby
5)     Neebo
6)     Tippy
7)     Jules
8)     Phil Snell
9)     Nige Snell
10)     Chippy
11)     Kev O
12)     Higgy – but didn’t play with him

Pont All Time XI – New
1)     Ed Jones
2)     Mason
3)     Glenn
4)     Tippy
5)     Chris Moss
6)     Lewis Davies
7)     James Griff / Jamies Chambers (wk)
8)     James Birch
9)     James Hughes
10)     Jon Byrd
11)     Mike Littler – will be a top 3 and score a lot of runs for Pont.

All time North Wales XI was too tough to call. Many many great players from Colwyn Bay, Marchweil, Northop Hall and Brymbo would fill the majority of my XI.

Advice to youngsters
  • Practice like mad when you’re young. We used to play four or five times a week in the summer.
  • Use the coaches and set up we have in the area to improve yourself.
  • Enjoy the game as it will give you so much fun and enable you to meet so many people.
  • Finally, learn how to drink a few pints as that is definitely an asset in Cricket.