All of us at Cricket Wales and many in the national and indeed international cricket community were shocked and deeply touched by the recent death of John Williams, from Pembrokeshire. John was tragically at the centre of one of the rarest but most serious of sporting incidents, whilst umpiring a local league match.
At the Treleet cricket ground, during a Pembrokeshire League Division 2 game between Pembroke and Narberth CCs, the hugely popular ‘gentleman of cricket’ - as described by local Cricket Development Officer, Martin Jones - was struck by the ball whilst standing at the bowler’s end.
John was attended to by a first responder at the scene, before being airlifted to the University Hospital, Cardiff, where he was placed into an induced coma for some time.
John returned to his local hospital in Pembrokeshire but sadly passed away on August 15th. A huge outpouring of sadness, respect and appreciation has followed, across all forms of media and social media, as people from near and far recognise both the poignancy of the event and the import of people such as John - people they might recognise - within their local areas.
John Williams was 80 years of age at the time of the incident. No wonder then, that Martin Jones describes him as having ‘done everything in & for Pembrokeshire cricket’. This includes playing for his village club, Hundleton CC, then supporting the club administratively for decades - latterly as Club Secretary.
(We note in passing that Phil Williams, one of John and Hilary’s three sons, is very much continuing the family contribution towards the game, through both playing locally and developing and providing outstanding support for red-ball cricket at Greenhill School, Tenby, where he teaches P.E.)
We suspect that this example of how cricket inspires across the generations and binds families and communities together is something many of us have direct experience of: is it too much to imagine that this offers a kind of comfort? Certainly it sustains all of us.
Over recent years, most will have known John Williams as the seemingly ever-present, friendly umpire, often in his ‘trade-mark’ shades, supporting both junior and senior cricket from bowler’s end or square leg. He officiated at the centre-piece occasion, out west, the Harrison-Allen Finals but he also officiated at many junior and regional junior games.
Frankly, everybody in Pembrokeshire cricket knew, or recognised John Williams - from the Pembs U10s through to the top-level senior players. His experience and more importantly John’s ‘old-school’ charm, decency and remarkable commitment to the sport that he loved will be remembered.
To John’s family and friends, we at Cricket Wales send our heartfelt condolences.