We have decided to publish some info on the legends of the club. As you know we lost a Blues legend last season when club chairman Mike Hall passed away, but there are also legends still amongst us. There is Jeff Huybs the man that ran the club single-handed for many seasons, a player in the glory years of the Welsh league, a former manager and secretary. Then there is Lewis Jones another Mr Blaenavon Blues who was here from near enough the beginning, a player in the 1950’s and 60’s he went on to become club secretary, grounds man and the man who drove the Blues during their days in the Welsh league. We also got a modern legend in Steve White a Blues player for more than 20 years and arguably the clubs greatest goal scorer, and he is still putting in first team performances at the age of 37. There are many more people who can be classed as club legends and if you would like to contribute a piece on the clubs former greats please get something down on paper and give it to Matthew Cox either up the ground or in the club, this will then be published on the clubs website and in the match programme. First up is Mel Davies, thanks to Rob Browning for his contribution and views on Mel.
For the start of the 1970-71 season, Blaenavon Blues returned to the new playing surface at the Co-op Field, and with it appointed the clubs first professional manager in Mel Davies. In fact Mel was the clubs first ever player/manager, and when he was appointed he brought some new faces to the club, players that he had nurtured as youngsters. Those players included John Saunders, Brian Morgan and Alwyn Coates, who played along side local boys Brian Huish, Robert Browning and Tony Fletcher.
The Blues had only been members of the Welsh league for a few seasons before the appointment of Davies as manager; Mel’s Strength was his discipline as a Blues player/manager he led by example, both on the training paddock and on the field of play. He introduced a total ban on Friday night drinking, and introduced a no training no playing policy. He also got the players looking more professional with all players expected to wear shirt, tie and blazer to all away fixtures.
Mel is currently employed by Cardiff City as a coach within their impressive youth set up, former Blues player under Davies Rob Browning said “Mel was a great guy and it’s a great shame that the Blues committee of the day could not see Mel’s Potential” In Mel’s two seasons at the Blues the first saw the club struggle winning only seven league games and finishing in thirteenth place. The following season 1971-72 saw the club finish in seventh place in the Welsh league division two winning eighteen-league fixtures.
When I decided to do the ‘Blues legends’ feature on the clubs website, the first name that came to me was Mike Hall, mainly because I played under Mike’s management during 2000’s and later served with him on the clubs committee, it was during this time that I learnt how much Blaenavon Blues meant to Mike Hall.
This week commemorates a year since Mike sadly passed away, and Mike is still very much missed both at the ground during games when he would advise the players where they were going wrong, and also back in the club house, where more than and a pint was enjoyed during our football discussions.
The contribution of Mike Hall to Blaenavon Blues was immense, and is going to be difficult to put into a few paragraphs. Mike served the club his whole adult life taking a break only during the 1990’s, he was the clubs longest serving chairman, and was the guiding figure behind the early negotiations with Torfaen Council on the relocation of Blaenavon Blues to the Memorial Ground.
Mike started his playing career with Blaenavon Blues back in the 1950’s playing along side the Probert brothers Cyril, Graham & Royston, Maldwin Hopkins, Gary Davies, Les Williams, Alan Morgan and Colin, Ken and Gary Jones. Mike was an accomplished centre forward as well as a central defender and playing along side that outstanding group of players they dominated the Pontypool league, winning cups and league titles for fun.
After retiring from playing Mike took up many roles within the club, Mike’s good friend and the clubs current Assistant manager Rob Browning paid tribute to Mike saying
“Mike Hall, player, committee man, chairman, and manager, not many other posts an amateur club can have, but Mike was all those and he filled them all admirably.
I had known Mike for some 44 years played along side him and socialised with him, played under him and for the last 8 years been privileged to work along side him as coach and manager. Players have come and gone even some have come back again but not Mike he was always a Blaenavon Blues man. Mike has left a big hole in this club. Mike we all miss you. “
Mike’s memory and indeed his legacy with continue to live with Blaenavon Blues of the future, at last season’s presentation dinner, ‘The Chairman’s Award’ was renamed ‘The Mike Hall Chairman’s Award’. And plans are being put in place to name the new spectator stand at the Memorial Ground after Mike. Keep and eye on the clubs website for news of the grand opening of the new ground.
Harold 'Ossie' Oakley
Ossie played for Blaenavon Blues between 1973 and 1977. Ossie was a hard working midfielder for Pontnewydd Seniors, who then played in the Mon Senior league. Ossie arrived at the Blues along side Tony Preece as the first signings for former Panteg manager Tony Leighton, and Ossie blossomed into a class welsh league player for the Blues.
Ossie was a complete midfielder, dribbling, tackling, with a fierce will to win, but surprisingly he played to a greater level when he moved into the sweeper role, also captaining the team.
In the opinion of one of Ossie’s team mates of the time and the clubs current Vice Chairman Jeff Huybs “Ossie was the best footballer to ever play for Blaenavon Blues” now you can’t get much more of a higher accolade than that! Jeff has been there and done it for many years and has seen some great footballers pull on the Blue shirt.