By Chris Barney
Life's a pitch for any groundsman - but Roger Davies has no complaints.For the past 10 years Davies has fulfilled the groundsman duties at Llanelli with considerable distinction.
Widely regarded as the best playing surface in the Welsh Premier League, Stebonheath Park has become the envy of most football clubs around the country. And it is Davies's commitment that helped the club host Wales games at under-19 and under-21 level, along with Welsh Cup finals
and full women internationals.
This summer sees European football head to Stebo for the first time in the club's history as Llanelli make their debut in the Champions League.
This time, though, Davies won't have to worry about the state of the pitch. At 65, and after a decade of delivering a plush surface, he has announced his retirement. And now he can finally watch a game without cursing players for damaging his good work. "I've really enjoyed the job and the people I met through it," said Davies, who was employed by Llanelli Town Council to maintain the pitch. "It's a very rewarding job and one that you can not switch off from - I was constantly checking the weather. But it's been great to see the club progress so much in the time that I was groundsman. Before I was employed to do it, myself and Gil Lloyd used to prepare the pitch voluntarily. I was still working in the steelworks then and had to fit it in between shifts. But I did it for a month with the council and then decided to apply for the job when it rose. It's time to have a rest from it now, though."
Davies has been involved with the Reds for almost 50 years, starting off as a player in 1959.He had previously been with Pemberton Juniors before joining the Welsh League squad as a 16-year-old. He showed great versatility in the 1960s and was in the side when Gilbert Lloyd arrived from Swansea. Roger was also a regular member of the Reds reserve side - Llanelli A - in the Carmarthenshire League and after retirement managed a third side at the club, Llanelli B. He also served on the committee before becoming a member of the previous management board when Llanelli was a limited company and was chairman for two years.
In the successful 1970s era, when the club won three championship titles, he became secretary, a position he held for more than 20 years. His son Leighton also played for the Reds before playing rugby, once appearing for London Welsh against the Scarlets. Modest he is, but no-one at Stebo lets his work go by without passing comment. And it is a compliment to him that the Reds have attracted so many high-profile games.
But there are no major grounds for concern, as the club have welcomed a new man in Davies's place. Former Swansea City groundsman Eddie Donne has been named as Davies's successor. Donne was in charge of Vetch Field from 1994-2005 and experienced some massive games at the famous old ground.
The 31-year-old, who supports Swansea, was also in charge of St Helen's following the football club's switch to the Liberty Stadium. Donne officially started on Monday in the job he has loved since leaving school. No stranger to Stebo, he is relishing the opportunity of continuing Davies's fine work. "I took in some huge games at the Vetch including Rugby League World Cup games, the FA Cup matches against West Ham and Derby along with the victory over Hull City which kept the Swans in the Football League," said Donne, who lives in Loughor. "I'm really looking forward to this new opportunity with Llanelli - I'm already calling them the Reds. I know Roger very well and he ensured that Stebo was the best in the Welsh Premier League. It's up to me to maintain the surface. As it happens, my first home game could be the Champions League match - now that would be a great start."
Article sourced from " this is south wales "