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South Wales Evening Post column, February 9, 2024

Robert Lloyd PR, Media and Marketing Consultancy News, Newspaper columns South Wales Evening Post column, February 9, 2024

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South Wales Evening Post column, February 9, 2024

Posted By RobertLloyd58

THE King himself would have been shocked at the number of words and newsprint used to pay tribute to a wonderful life.
The reality is that every word, every photo and video clip is deserved praise for one of our greatest fly-halves.
As a schoolboy rugby fan, I only caught the tail-end of the playing career of Barry John, but I was fortunate enough to meet him on several occasions later in life (in the press room at the old Cardiff Arms Park and in favourite venues such as The City Arms and Old Arcade).
His knowledge of the game of rugby was almost scientific in the detail. He also possessed a wonderful humble air and was happy to take time out and chat over a pint.
There are, of course, some wonderful stories about Barry John.
Some of them may be urban legend, such as the one about the sign on the gates at the entrance to Stradey Park in Llanelli – ‘Admission, £2 . . . If Barry John plays — £10’.
Other tales, of course, we know to be true.
Take the “You throw it, I’ll catch it” line.
It was Barry’s advice to legendary scrum-half Gareth Edwards in their first ever training session together.
Only one amendment is needed to the story, in fact, as Messrs John and Edwards spoke to each other in the language of heaven, Welsh.
So, for the historical record, Barry’s advice to Gareth was, “Twla di fe, ddala i fe.”
Much has been made of comparisons between Barry John and the Manchester United star footballer George Best.
My pal Alun Lenny, a former BBC journalist, is happy to set the record straight –
“Barry’s been called rugby’s George Best . . .
“But, actually, George Best was football’s Barry John!”
The friendship between the two rugby stars dated back to a meeting in the Café Royal in London in 1970.
There were further meetings in London, Manchester and other venues across the land, but one of the strangest must have been a visit to the old Dynevor Arms pub in Heol y Foel, Foelgastell, not far from Barry’s home village of Cefneithin.
The pub was run by the colourful husband and wife duo of Mansel and Millicent Davies.
The details of what happened when Barry took George to the Dynevor are sketchy, but I’m sure we’d all have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that one.
The old Dynevor Arms, by the way, is now a private dwelling, but I think the owner may be missing a valuation-boosting trick by not putting up a blue plaque to mark the occasion when Barry John and George Best were enjoying a pint (or two!) together in a cosy corner of west Wales.
Meanwhile, my pal Ian Davies, who helps run the popular All Wales Sport website, also has some fine memories of Barry John.
Ian explained that rugby wasn’t the only sport that Barry John excelled in.
“He was a good footballer,” said Ian. “He played for Porthyrhyd (a village not far from Cefneithin) in the Carmarthenshire League, attracting scouts from Leeds United.
“He was also an above-average wicket-keeper and handy left-handed batsman in cricket.
“We used to have a street competition back in those days and Barry was there to represent Heol Tabernacle, as were his brothers Clive and Allan.”
Other tales about Barry include the day his student teacher colleagues at Trinity College in Carmarthen held him ransom before a game between the Scarlets and the All Whites of Swansea.
Amazing tales about an amazing man.
As one radio commentator once explained – “Barry John? He could side-step a tackler in a phone box.”
RIP, Barry John.


IT’S always good to have feedback – even when some of it points out that you might be wrong.
Regular reader Bunty West is obviously an early morning newspaper fan as she dropped me an email at about 7am last Friday.
It contained a very cheery ‘thank-you’ for banging on about the latest reforms to the Senedd, the Welsh Parliament.
It closed with ‘keep up the good work’ – a handy motto I have since transferred to a Post-It note on the wall next to my computer.
Swansea Lib-Dem councillor Peter Black CBE was also quick off the mark, with messages before I’d had my Weetabix and my morning cocktail of tablets at 8am.
Cllr Black, a former member of the old ‘Welsh Assembly’, is a fount of knowledge on constitutional matters. When he chips in with a view, then I always pay attention.
Cllr Black took issue with my claim that the new Senedd reforms – which include increasing the size of the Parliament from 60 to 96 at the next election – will lock out people who want to stand as independent councillors.
“The new system is a closed list not a closed shop,” Cllr Black said.
“The proposed closed list system for the Senedd does not stop independents from standing.
“The current top-up lists are also closed – but at every Senedd election voters still had a choice that involved at least one independent.
“Other than that, you are entirely correct to say this closed list system is inappropriate. There are other forms of proportional representation that allow voters to choose candidates as well as parties.”
Cllr Black did feel the Senedd needed more members, but reckoned an increase to 96 was too much.
So, what now, dear readers?
It’s back to Senedd research for yours truly and I’ll revisit the issue of parliamentary reform in another couple of weeks.
Having read alarming stuff about ‘anonymising’ names on ballot papers at the 2026 Senedd elections, I am more confused than ever.
My fear is that the people of Wales are sleepwalking their way into changes which will make elections less democratic.
More on this . . . after I’ve done my homework!

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