Clarets Legend Series (Steve Davis)

Steve Davis Interview

Stephen Davis was born on the 30th October 1968 in Hexham; Davis started his career as a trainee with Southampton in August 1986, turning professional in July 1987. In November 1989 he went on a three-month loan deal to Burnley before returning to Southampton in February 1990.  He then made his Southampton debut in a 4–1 victory over Norwich City.

After a short run in the Southampton first team, Davis only made two further appearances before a short loan spell at Notts County.  In August 1991, Davis returned to Burnley on a permanent basis for a fee of £60,000. At Burnley he helped the club to the Division Four Championship in 1991-92 and to promotion via the play-offs in 1993-94.  Burnley were relegated the following season and Davis was sold to Luton Town in July 1995.

After over three years with Luton Town, Davis returned to Burnley in December 1998 for a fee of £800,000.  He became club captain and in 1999-00 he helped them back to the First Division. He remained with thw Clarets until July 2003, when he moved on to Lancashire rivals Blackpool on a two-year deal.  In June 2004, Davis joined his final club York City on a two-year deal before he retired.

Davis returned to Burnley in a scouting role in October 2005, as manager Steve Cotterill hoped to prepare him for a coaching role at the club. He then stepped up to the role of first team coach and reserve team manager. In the November, he was made assistant manager of the club following the departure of Dave Kevan. This role only lasted a few days before Steve Cotterill was dismissed and Davis took over as caretaker manager.

His first job was to take the team to Leicester City for a Football League Championship match. An early Andy Gray goal gave him a 1-0 win in what he described as one of the proudest moments of his career. Owen Coyle then arrived at the club to become full-time manager and Davis went back to become first team coach as the Clarets won promotion to the Premier League.  

Davis became caretaker manager again for a matter of days before joining Owen Coyle and his backroom staff at Bolton Wanderers. After leaving Bolton Wanders he went on to become opposition scout at Hull City and then Fleetwood Town, shortly after joining Fleetwood he became chief scout at the club and stayed at Highbury for seven years before joining Everton Football Club in July 2019 as the clubs UK scouting manager.

Interview

Who was your biggest influence in football?

My Mum and Dad who always supported me, gave great advice and also allowed me to leave home at 16 and go to Southampton to follow my dream of becoming a footballer. Jack Hixon the famous scout was also a great support and mentor throughout my career until he sadly passed away a few years ago.

What is your best football highlight?

Promotions obviously stick out but probably winning the 4th Div championship in my 1st full season in a 1st team. Getting a Championship winners medal and also getting into the PFA Select team which is voted for by your fellow professionals topped off a great season for me and also the Club who had waited a long time to get out of the 4th Division

What is your football lowlight?

I prefer to look back at the highlights of my career but I would say the lowlights were the successive relegations with Burnley and then Luton Town. Also leaving Burnley as a player with my last game at Selhurst Park in front of 1500 supporters against Wimbledon, would have loved to finish my career in front of a full house at Turf Moor.

League Debut?

My league debut for Burnley was as a substitute against Lincoln City at Sincil Bank on the 4th November 1989, when manager Frank Casper sent me on to replaced Paul Atkinson.  I made my Southampton debut against Norwich City, winning the game 4-1 with striker Matt Le Tissier scoring a hat-trick.

Best Goal You Scored?

Your first is always memorable and mine was v Wigan Athletic in the old Rumblelows Cup when I scored from 25 yards. My first league goal v Wrexham was special. But my best was for Luton Town v Hull City in the FA Cup, getting the ball on the half way line playing a one-two with Phil Gray and taking it around the goalkeeper to score. Warren Joyce was manager of Hull City at the time! Thankfully it’s on YouTube so I have a copy!

Toughest Opponent?

Mick Harford was someone who you knew you had been in a game with. He had an aura about him that defenders could sense and feel.  A few partnerships also gave me a tough afternoon, Morrison and Forsell at Palace, Freedman and Blake at Forest were another that stick out

Who is the best manager you have played for and why?

I played under a few good managers who had their own ways and styles but Stan Ternant was the best.  A leader of men who knew when to give the players responsibility and also when it was time to lead, he was unpredictable at times which always kept you on your toes. Jimmy Mullen enjoyed great success with the Club, getting us to the brink of the Championship play-offs, who knows what would have happened if we had got into the play-offs that season.

Who was the best player you played with and why?

John Pender, was the best player I played with he was a great leader and man. We both formed a good partnership when I arrived at Burnley permanently. We complemented each other well and enjoyed two promotions together. A skipper who lead by example.

Whilst at Burnley you became caretaker manager twice and you still have a 100% record in that post, what was it like to manager Burnley and is it a position you would be interested in the future?

Again it was a massive day for me at Leicester City topped off with the win, to have played for, scouted for, coached and managed Burnley Football Club albeit for 1 game again was a very proud day. As far as managing the club in the future, I don’t think that will happen, things have moved on from then my career has taken a different route at the moment at least and don’t envisage being in a management role anytime soon.

Burnley FC has been a big part of your playing career, what was it like to be part of the management team to win at Wembley and get them back into the top flight?

It was a great day for the Club and a proud moment for me to play a part in the success, to have helped the Club from the old Fourth Division as a player into the Premier League as part of the management team is something in my career I’am very proud of.

How difficult was the decision to leave Turf Moor and join Owen Coyle at Bolton Wanderers?

It was very difficult and one that wasn’t taken lightly, a few factors were involved but looking back now and with the benefit of hindsight I would have stayed at Burnley Football Club.

There have been a number of great players to play in Claret & Blue over the years, how does it feel to be described as a Clarets Legend?

It is very humbling to be put in that bracket, the Club has a great history and over the years has produced many great players. I am very proud and privileged to have played a part in the Clubs history both on and off the pitch from the Fourth Division right through to the Premier League. To stand alongside the many fine players that have graced Turf Moor it’s a real honour and one I could only have dreamed of when I left home at sixteen to go to Southampton to pursue a career in football.

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