Jerry Shelton

Presidents Introduction:

Virtually all club members will know Mark Shelton but todays playing members are unlikely to have heard of his Legendary father Jerry .If bringing up Mark alone doesn’t qualify you as a Legend then his contribution to the Club over many years surely does. I asked him to pen his career for us and this is set out below along with some great pictures. Jerry received the nickname “Shenkin” awarded to him by the ever mischievous goalkeeper Duncan John – and for no other reason than Duncan thought Skenkin Shelton sounded funny!

Jerry served the club for many years as captain and committee member during some of the tougher times in club history and was in no uncertain way part of the reason the club held together during these days. All too easy to be a skipper in a successful period, less so when we were struggling to field four teams. This is the stuff true Legends are made out of. A true gentleman, friend, and great guy to have known over the years – and as I recall a top rock n roll dancer with his partner Brenda .

Jerry Shelton

I was born in Newport but emigrated to Liverpool with my family when three years old. In 1954, at age ten I was sent to board at Reed's School in Surrey. The school played soccer, rugby and cricket, and being soccer mad this suited me just fine, but in 1955 a new Headteacher, Bob Drayson, was appointed. On a chilly October day in 1955, I was one of a large group of shivering 11-year olds gathered on our precious soccer pitch to listen to the new Head announce something that would deeply upset most of us. There was to be no more soccer! Instead, we were to start playing hockey, a game we all thought was for sissies. 


Mr Drayson was a Cambridge hockey blue and a decorated naval war hero with a steely blue gaze, so we paid due attention as he described the rules (and potential hazards) of hockey. The English sticks (remember them!) were particularly clumsy to handle, and my worst fears were aroused by his vivid description of how one particularly wild use of a stick had led to it having to be levered out of some poor wretch's skull. As the smallest boy in the school, I felt kind of vulnerable.....


Anyway, there was no choice. We started playing hockey, and much to my surprise, I was soon comfortable wielding the dangerous weapon and really enjoying the game, despite being pretty average at it. In my final school year, 1962, I rose to the dizzy heights of skippering the 2nd team against major school competition such as Charterhouse, Dulwich College, Caterham and Kingston Grammar, to name but a few posh opponents.

I returned to Liverpool, and after an interval of three boozy and largely idle University years, played (usually in the 4ths and 5ths) for Liverpool Sefton Hockey Club from 1967. The club was based in Aigburth and was Lancashire Cricket club's second home.  As well as smooth, flat immaculately tended grass pitches, the club had its own squash courts and snooker tables on site. Marvellous facilities: we were spoilt. Three hilarious years running we all piled onto the Isle of Man steamer for an often rough Irish sea crossing to their Whit weekend hockey tournament; more beer than I've ever seen before or since.

In 1976 I moved down to Monmouth with work, and joined Lydney HC. What a contrast! The club was based in the heart of the Forest of Dean; the home pitch was a lethally bumpy redgra and we had to fetch goal-nets and posts from a nearby shed and assemble them every home game. Our team captain was a long-distance lorry driver, so our weekend joining instructions usually came from places like Aberdeen or Norwich on the night before the game, and we often had to play a man or two short, particularly if the captain was stranded somewhere. However, I found that my game was well suited to their direct ('if in doubt, put it out”) style. True coarse hockey! I thoroughly enjoyed it.


In 1983, however, I (reluctantly at the time) had to move to Cardiff with work. Faced with the choice of which hockey club to join, I considered Whitchurch but shrewdly opted for Cardiff because I liked the colour of the club shirt better.


For me it turned out to be a great choice. There followed 23 hugely enjoyable years playing with (and against) many amazing people all over South Wales and beyond. Over the course of those years there were inevitably lots of changes, both to the rules of the game and to the club's circumstances. The superb clubhouse facilities and excellent grass pitches at Sophia Gardens are now ancient history, but will always be remembered with nostalgia and affection by those who played during those halcyon years. The game itself, win or lose, decent food afterwards, exchanging foaming beer jugs with the opposition, even getting out on the balcony on warm evenings to spectate (and respectfully offer advice) if games were still in progress on the pitches below us.


In 1988 Brenda and I joined over thirty club members and partners/wives who flew to Barbados for the island's annual international hockey tournament. Three weeks of glorious sun, gleaming white sand, warm turquoise sea and limitless ice-cold beer provided a truly memorable experience; even the hockey wasn't bad, though we didn't win anything. Two team members even got married to each other while there.....


During my 23 years as a Cardiff player my performances were unspectacular to say the least. I suppose I could best be described as reliable, in that I always turned up. For a number of seasons I captained teams, usually the 4ths, and at one stage became notorious (and pretty unpopular) for introducing a rota system in team selection. This sought to resolve a number of team selection problems, such as nobody wanting to go in goal or umpire, too many people available at various times and not getting a regular game, etc. I drew up timetables to address these problems, but nobody wanted to umpire, go in goal or stand down altogether for games, and the whole thing had to be abandoned. I finished up making more u-turns than Boris......


My 4th teams contained a number of regular players who were legends in their own lunchtimes. What a mad, bad bunch. I mention no names to avoid potential litigation, but some of these guys had real style. One new recruit turned up for his first game in a helicopter, from which he leapt out fully kitted for action! Need I say more........


I retired from playing in 2006 at the age of 62. My last game was for the 4ths against Bridgend at Nantgarw, and we won 6-3. The team tried frantically to set me up with a farewell goal, but it was not to be. I think during my entire time with Cardiff I only scored about half a dozen goals! Looking back though, at least during those 23 years I played for all six Cardiff teams, though for the 1st team it was only on one occasion; I was standing watching the game when a first-teamer had to come off injured! In 2004 I also had the privilege of playing for the Wales Over-60s against England in their inaugural game at Lansdowne Road, Bath. We won 3-2.


My son Mark, whom I started taking to hockey games as soon he began to toddle, has been a hockey fanatic ever since he could hold a stick and has turned out to be a much better player than I was (at least, that's what he keeps telling me). His daughters look like they will be just as good. Thanks to Bob Drayson, I have founded a dynasty.


Jerry Shelton