Steve’s still heavily involved at Imble Lane
Steve Alford is the hard-working Hon Secretary at Pembroke Dock Cricket Club and is understandably delighted at the big strides made at Imble Lane over recent years in terms of on-field play, team spirit and work in making the pitch return to its former glories.
As well as his secretarial work, Steve still plays regularly for the second team, enjoys helping Maurice Leyland and John Davies in working on the pitch, and has passed his coaching badge so that he can help with coaching the youngsters at the club that are beginning to make a name for themselves.
He can also regale a listener with wonderful stories of his childhood in Bournemouth, where he watched Hampshire play cricket and supported Bournemouth and Boscombe AFC, plus his days in the army where he once sat for four days and played cards with Australian cricketing legend Merv Hughes, who deprived Steve of £10 and 40 cigarettes – but more of that later!
Sports-mad school days
In his school days Steve was sports mad and in the summer months he was a regular at Kings Park in Bournemouth whenever Hampshire played there and his enthusiasm earned him a little job where he acted as the runner between the scorers and the reporters for the Bournemouth Evening Echo and the Dorset Times. He also used to put bets on for fast bowler Mike Taylor and on one occasion when Mike gave him £1 to put on a horse Steve had to use his bus money for the betting tax and had to walk home after the match! Steve’s hero was West Indian master batsman Gordon Greenidge, whom he once saw hit a massive six right over the scorebox – and a replacement ball had to be used when a quick search failed to find the original. But Steve went rummaging in the undergrowth the next day, found the ball and kept it as part of his sporting collection!
Also in his sporting memorabilia is the ball used in a match where Bournemouth once beat Margate 14-1 at Dean Court and Ted McDougall scored 12 of them. Steve also had a little job there in the football season, selling programmes and helping clear up after games. After that match he was designated to help clean in the corridors around the changing area and spotted the ball in the referee’s changing room – and he and his mates were kicking it around the very next day!
Useful runner and army cricketer
Steve was a useful runner as a teenager and in 1972 competed for Bournemouth Schools in the 800 metres against Steve Ovett, coming third to the eventual Olympic gold medallist – and when he was really fit in the army he ran in two London Marathons and finished with creditable times of 3 minutes 31 seconds and 3 minutes 41 seconds. That was in 1985 and 1986 and he is still very proud of his medals!
In his army days he was posted to the Royal School of Artillery in Woolwich, where there was a superb cricket ground, and he played for his unit as well as helping out voluntarily on the cricket ground, although he wasn’t allowed anywhere near the hallowed square. He played for the regiment on one occasion when someone failed to show for a match as very good players were called from a wide area to turn out. It was a three-day match and his role was to field for long periods, not bowl – and face a 6 feet 8 inches fast bowler for three deliveries!
Real treat at Lord’s – and cash lost to big Merv
In 1985 he was called into the adjutant’s office and handed a chitty telling him to report to the Lords Cricket Ground to act a steward for the England v Australia test – and Steve was so thrilled that he arrived extra early on the first day and found himself talking to test umpire Harold ‘Dickie’ Bird as they waited for the gates to open. Dickie suggested they go for a cup of tea at a nearby cafe – but it was Steve who had to pay for the privilege!
If Steve was thrilled to be there then imagine his joy when he found his job was to make sure that the door leading to the Long Room was kept clear. It was there that he bumped into Merv Hughes, who was on his first tour and not selected, and their epic card games came about because the big Aussie was bored!
A nice spin-off from that little event was the fact that on the rest day Steve was due to play to play for the Royal Engineers at Barton Court, the ground near the Chelsea Pensioners’ homes – and up popped Mr Hughes, Allan Border, Jeff Lawson and Alan Border to watch, with Border presenting the winners’ medals as a lovely touch at the end. Steve was also presented with a bat signed by the Aussie players after his stint at Lords, and it still has pride of place in his mum’s house!
Steve eventually moved to this county when he was stationed at Manorbier, having already met his future wife Myra, a Pembrokeshire lass, when he was in London. He started training with the Quins because Maria’s family, including dad Phil and brothers Gavin and Mark, played rugby there but after a few weeks started playing football for Cosheston alongside Dai Eynon, Martin Ryder, Gary Lewis and Billy Grey. He enjoyed himself there and ended his playing days at Pennar Robins after being asked to go there by Peter Hart and Keith Butland, who was also instrumental in getting Steve to play cricket for Pembroke Dock.
He settled in really quickly at Imble Lane and his best bowling figures were 6 for 15 at Letterston as he helped The Dock win the Division Four title. He had a top score of 51 but after a thoroughly enjoyable time there he was persuaded by Lyn Smith and John Harries to play for Stackpole, where he had another cracking spell where he was 2nds captain for a while and enjoyed the camaraderie there.
Imble lane return
But when the Dock were struggling he returned to Imble Lane alongside real stalwarts like Maurice Leyland and Mal Morris, plus the returning John Davies, who has done so much for the club in the intervening years. Steve was appointed Hon Secretary and is still enjoying the role as The Dock are beginning to see some of their talented youngsters like Jake Davies, Jamie White and Luke Murray doing well in conjunction with Peter Kingdom, Nick Daley and Jason Coles.
They have appeared in the Alan Brown Cup Final a few times and only missed out on promotion to Division Two last campaign after tieing with Llanrhian for second place, are beginning to make a name for themselves in the indoor league and have been on tours, organised by Steve, to Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. They were coming back from tour last season and stopped off to support Cresselly in their National Village Cup match up the line – but Steve missed two hours of the game because he was having a pub lunch with Maurice Leyland, who insisted on staying until he had dined well!
And finally . . .
Steve is still turning out for the second team and is eager to bring on more young talent so that Pembroke Dock can eventually return to their former glories, when they were first division regulars and Harrison-Allen Bowl winners.
“We still have a long way to go,” says Steve with a typical chuckle, “but we are on the right road. There is a real buzz at the club these days and I am just happy to be part of it. I have been lucky to have the support of Myra and our children, Sarah and Gareth, and been very lucky to be so involved.”
PembrokeshireSport.co.uk has known Steve Alford for many years and he is one of the major reasons why Pembroke Dock Cricket Club are on the up again – and long may he continue to grace Imble Lane and all the other cricket grounds around the county!