I received the sad news today that one of my best quiz friends throughout the last 20 years, and a truly great quizzer, Alan Coombs, passed away yesterday.
If you’re not part of the South Wales quiz community, then I don't know that you ever knew of him, but within this community he was a figure who received total respect. In many ways Alan was my first quiz mentor. He was the first truly great quizzer that I ever met. In 1988 I was first introduced to the world of the pub quiz by another friend, Neville. I found that I wasn’t bad, and within a few weeks I was invited to play for the club in the quiz team in the Port Talbot League. I won’t lie to you, I fancied myself a bit as a quizzer. That’s when I first met and played alongside Alan. Alan, who was still in his pomp as a quizzer then, was awesome. Whenever you walked into a pub to play a league match, or a charity quiz, and Alan was with you, the other players in the room would seem to wilt. Mentally they were usually beaten before the start of the match. And if Alan was playing they were invariably beaten by the end of the match. Alan was that good. In my early years I used to look at Alan and think – if I can ever come close to being that good, then that’ll do for me.
As well as being an awesome quizzer, Alan was great company as well. He was one of very few people I have known for whom the phrase ‘nobody had a bad word to say about him’ was in no way hyperbole. It was through Alan that I was invited to make my first ever appearance in a TV quiz, where through his influence I was drafted onto a team for “Come And Have A Go If You Think You’re Smart Enough’. We didn’t win the show, but I look back on that weekend we spent in London, Alan, his wife Alison, myself and the other members of the team as one of my most enjoyable experiences in TV quizzing.
My deepest condolences go to Alison, and to all of Alan’s family, and to all of his friends from both the quizzing community and outside, of whom there were many. Tomorrow night John, who was Alan’s friend and team mate for even longer than I was, and I will be in Cowbridge, and even though it’s a school night, I hope nobody will blame me if I raise a glass in his memory and say God Bless you Alan. Thank you for being a friend all these years. Rest in Peace.