Well, there are heroes, 'heroes' and heroes, I suppose.
No-one has ever asked me to name mine. Not even those slightly
distracted women with clipboards who try to promote mayonnaise in our
local supermarkets. But if they did...
...I hope they would be more specific, and ask me who my sporting
hero was. I could then tell them that it is this man...
Known as Dino.
Who he? You mean you don't know?
OK, no reason why you should I suppose, unless you are one of a
First off, let me take you back a bit...
(On film, this would be a cue for those wibbly-wobbly pictures
and a harp arpeggio, but I got a right kicking from visitors to this
site just for doing a rather artless bit of Dynamic HTML, so no chance,
Brymbo Steelworks Football Club was founded in the closing stages
of World War II. The works already had a cricket club and other sports
teams, and the village itself had spawned some football clubs down the
years, all of which were quite short-lived.
My father, Bill Stapley, had played for some of these, and as an
avid sportsman it was inevitable that he would become involved with the
club from its earliest days. So began a family connection which lasted
nearly fifty years. He started taking me to games when I was only about
three or four years old.
I can't claim for one moment that I was remotely interested in
sport of any kind then (or indeed for many years afterwards); I just
saw it as a chance to get out of the house for a couple of hours. But
from my earliest visits to The Cricket Field ('The Crick' to us
faithful), I recall hearing one name being mentioned over and over...
(It's rumoured that Dexy's Midnight Runners were inspired by
this to write their first hit, although of course they had to change
the name slightly for reasons of copyright).
Even back then, Glyn Davies was there. He had first played for the
club when he was a still a schoolboy in the early 1960s, and by this
time he was a well-established member of one of most feared and
respected teams in Wales at what was then still called the 'amateur'
level. He played mostly at inside right (yes, children, there really was
such a position - none of this 'deep-lying schemer' nonsense for me,
thank you very much!), and his skill and industry were immediately
His proudest moment was surely in April 1967, when Brymbo
Steelworks became the first and only club from the Wrexham area to win
the Welsh Amateur Cup. Indeed, Dino scored the winning goal,
just two minutes from the end. You can read about this here.
When I myself got genuinely interested in football (when I was
about thirteen), Glyn was still there, as much a fixture in the first
team as he had been a decade before, the last remaining member of the
team of the Golden Age of the late 60s, still giving it everything and
passing on his experience to younger team-mates. Of course, some of
them thought he was a whingeing old git, but you can't teach some
people anything - Glyn set himself extremely high standards,
and expected nothing less than that from his team-mates.
He stayed in the team to witness something of another Golden Age in
the early 1980s, when local competitions were won by the vanload,
although there was the bitter disappointment of losing the final of the
Welsh Intermediate Cup twice in three years. I remember after one of
them, Glyn coming out of the changing room about half an hour after the
game ended, walking onto the pitch and hurling his loser's
tankard into the middle distance.
Commitment. Determination. Loyalty, too. When I left the club in
1988 after seven years on the committee, Glyn was still there,
still playing whenever he was needed, now in his forties and late into
his third decade of service. At a time when, even at the amateur level,
players were moving between clubs as if sponsored by Pickfords
Removals, Dino was a fixture, as much a part of the club as the
field itself; more so, in fact, because the club had moved to a new
ground in 1979.
For all I know, he's still there, although perhaps he has
been persuaded to stop playing by now...I wouldn't bet my house on it,
To me, you can be as talented a player as you like. You can be as
wealthy as you like. You can be on as many reality TV shows as you
like. You can only be a hero to me if you have as big a heart and soul
as it is humanly possible to have. Glyn Davies has always had that.
That's a hero to me.
File under: Sport