Celebrating Wales' sporting heroes
6th October 2015
You'll remember them from school. Everywhere has them. Perhaps you are one yourself . . . those really annoying people who are talented at every sport they try.
I was reminded of them just before kick-off at the Swans v Everton game when the newly knighted Sir Gareth Edwards was presented to the Liberty Stadium crowd.
I know many of you may have thought, why are they parading an "egg-chaser" to the crowd before a Swans game?
But, whatever shaped ball you prefer, you have to admit that Sir Gareth wasn't any old "egg-chaser", he was one of - if not THE - greatest the game has ever known.
And it could have been all so different. Instead of starring for Cardiff RFC, Wales and the British Lions, the legendary number nine could have been a Swans hero and turned out for Wales along side the likes of Toshack, Curtis and fellow Amman Valley product, Dai Davies.
The Swans had all but signed Edwards on a professional contract as a schoolboy, but he eventually opted to accept a sporting scholarship to world-renowned Millfield School, where his rugby career blossomed.
It is generally accepted that whatever sporting field Edwards had concentrated on - he was an accomplished gymnast and athlete, as well as footballer - the former Pontardawe Tech pupil would have reached the top.
That's what made me think of those annoying kids (annoying because I wasn't one of them!) who could turn their hand, or foot, to any sport with equal ease.
As a fellow native of Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, I was brought up on tales of a young Edwards smashing seven goals in a game for the village's Neath League side Colbren Rovers, and topping the club's scoring charts, whilst simultaneously making a name for himself with the oval ball.
Years later there were similar tales in the Amman Valley of another future Welsh rugby legend, terrorising Neath League defenders with his pace (I know because I was one) before deciding to chase the oval ball instead of the round one.
I can confirm that Shane Williams was a pretty handy player lining up for Cwmaman United, having unsurprisingly being left for dead by the man who would eventually convert himself into a record try-scoring Wales winger and World Player of the Year.
Giving me a ten-yard head start on halfway, he knocked the ball past me down the flank and gathered it ten yards ahead of me at the byline!
Fortunately when he reached the ball there was no one for him to cross to as none of his team-mates could keep up either - perhaps that's why he never made it as a footballer!
However, when Edwards ended his glittering rugby career, he did get the opportunity to wear the Swans shirt when he signed in 1978 under manager John Toshack.
He regularly turned out in reserve matches and testimonials, including one for Liverpool's Chris Lawler where he lined up against the likes of Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness and Alan Hansen at Anfield and scored a penalty.
Although many people may know about Gareth's dual footballing talents, how many people are aware that a former Swansea City, Spurs and Wales legend made the opposite switch when he ended his footballing career?
Cliff Jones, who made his name at the Vetch before going on to be part of the famed Tottenham Double Winning side of 1961, changed codes after he called time on his football career.
After transferring from Spurs to Fulham, Jones eventually ended up playing for English club side Saracens.
In an interview with the Spurs website, Cliff revealed: "To be honest I got a bit fed up with football and I used to go and watch the Sarries play. I was up there one Saturday watching them against Bridgend and a couple of boys said 'how's the football going?' and I said I'd packed it in, so they said 'well come and have a game of rugby!'
"I went up there and I played for the seniors, the vets. I played for just about a season or so as a winger and I liked to think of myself as another Barry John!
"Being Welsh, it's somewhere in the blood isn't it?" he added. "It is the Welsh national sport, we can't argue about that!
Well, sorry Cliff, far be it from me to argue with a Swans and Spurs legend, particularly on a day when the clubs clash, but I'm sure there would be a few people in the stadium who would side with me in arguing rugby isn't exclusively the Welsh national sport.
The rugby boys may have just beaten England in the World Cup, but Ashley Williams exploits with the Swans and Wales, and the number of people participating in football here, would suggest there is a major argument to be had on that point.
But that can wait for another day, for now let's just celebrate that Wales is a fantastic sporting nation which can produce talented all rounders like Gareth Edwards, Shane Williams and Cliff Jones, to name just a few . . . even if they were really annoying in those school sports sessions.
C'mon you Swans.