Brian Davison: Soldier, Warrior, Unexpected Chief (pt. 2)

Part one of Brian Davison’s story can be found here.

 

Rhodesia had its ups and downs, but England seemingly was on the up. No one appreciated Davison’s value to Leicestershire more than his own teammates, and Roger Tolchard paints a vivid portrait of his contribution.

“He made himself into a star overseas player. Every county signed up renowned overseas players in those days, you automatically had a star overseas player. Graham McKenzie was our other one, came over and with Davo helped us win the Championship. As I said before, he’d come from nothing. He’d just come over from Rhodesia, and was giving cricket a go. And he made himself into an overseas star, and had a benefit, and you can’t have too high a praise for him.”

He was a hell of a character to boot. “In the winter he got pretty cold,” Tolchard remembers. “It was cold. So he used to walk around in a big, sheep-skin overcoat that went right down to the floor. And he looked a real hippy-type. But you know, he was obviously a character.”

“And he liked a drink, didn’t he? Bloody staying up all night with [Mike] Procter. They used to stay up all night drinking a bottle of scotch or something. They wouldn’t go to bed, and then knock the hell out of each other the following day.”

Nigel Briers, a young player heavily influenced by Davison’s senior place in the dressing room, speaks in near-idolatry tones about his teammate.

“He was one of the best players who ever played for Leicestershire, or put on a Leicestershire sweater. Great athlete, terrific fielder in any position. I’d say that he combined controlled aggression and hard hitting with a certain elegance and style. That sort of combination, he wasn’t just a hitter. Strong, but he had a certain style about him. A charismatic figure, certainly.”

That charisma, aggression and all of Davison’s other qualities – his hardnosed outlook, competitive nature, and liking for a laugh – come through in one of Brier’s recollections.

“If the fuel gauge got a bit low on the motorway, and the sign said ‘services, one mile or 17 miles’ he’d say to me, ‘what do you think?’ I’d say, ‘I definitely think we need to get petrol’. But he had that bit about him, and he’d say, ‘let’s chance it’. I knew who’d have to fetch the petrol, so that sticks in my mind!”

McKenzie, who was one of the finest seam bowlers produced by Australia, had only been around the Leicestershire team for a season or so when Davison joined him in the firsts.

“Just thinking about him, he was such an athletic person, and great in the field. He hit the ball hard, ran well, and that type of thing. From his cricket point of view, he stood out. […] I still remember him in the field, he was really a top-class field. That put pressure on the team even if he wasn’t bowling or that type of thing.”

With both McKenzie and Davison keen hockey players, it led to a common interest between the two overseas pros at very different ends of their cricketing lives: “I remember comparing a few notes with him.”

“He was a little bit volatile at times,” McKenzie concedes, “but if he could keep that in control, he certainly was a valuable member of the team, for sure – and I appreciated playing with him.”

There’s no doubt that volatility was part of Davison’s character; stories are told of Davison running at loggerheads with, particularly, Leicestershire’s administration, while another account is of Davison and Tasmania’s overseas pro Patrick Patterson having a precarious dynamic.

Kevan Barbour, brother of Brian and at one point Manicaland’s captain, recalls Davison being banned from the Umtali Sports Club when he was skippering Midlands.

“I made the mistake of keeping them out in the field after the target had been overhauled, it was a matter of principle as at tea they were boldly saying they were not going to carry on with the match when the target had been achieved.

“He I’m sure, as do I, regret our actions of the day. Davo, instead of bowling the next ball after the winning runs had been hit, ran up and threw the ball at the striker, Mike Burton. […] This overflowed after the match – aggravated by the fact we shared a common dressing room separated by a half wall. Everyone was so scared of Davo, on both teams, the majority of the players stayed outside on the veranda. Fortunately tempers calmed down and nothing dramatic occurred apart from a few verbals.”

Mike Haysman wrote a few years back of a match at Grace Road where Davison decided not to cop any flak: “[he] gradually but purposefully moved himself to an uncharacteristic position at long on. None of us knew the motivation for such until the end of the over was called. Davo, who was not to be messed with, jumped the fence and decked a spectator who had been heckling him incessantly, and was back in the field of play for the start of the next over. There was always only going to be one winner there.”

Generally though, that aggression and passion was a positive. Barbour remembers another incident, playing against Transvaal B, where Davison at short leg had been sledging Vivian Greve relentlessly.

“Greve turned to him in between deliveries and said, ‘Davo unless you shut up I’m going to crack you with my bat’. Davo replied, ‘if you’re going to hit me make it a good one – because if I get up, you will be history’.

“Greve was out the next over.”

Davison wasn’t scared of anyone, in a physical or cricketing sense. Which meant, even when he came up against the best of the best, he was never going to back down. In 1975, the party that came off second best were Ian Chappell’s Australians.

“At one point,” Davison remembers with a laugh, “one of the Aussie supporters tried to stop the game – he said there was a bomb threat at the Leicestershire ground, to try and stop the carnage!”

Had the tourists’ skipper been paying attention, though, it could’ve been a knock brought to a much earlier halt. “I got dropped on seven by Ian Chappell, on the fine-leg boundary having a hook. He was having a bit of a kip down there, and then I just smashed them.”

It ended up being Davison’s highest First Class score, one he was never able to top. “I had a couple of times to beat that 189,” Davison comments, “and I never did. I always got out before it.”

“Imagine having your best against Griqualand West or Victoria when you can have 189 against Australia.”

The same season saw Leicestershire pick up their first ever County Championship title – as Graham McKenzie puts it, “Leicester wasn’t renowned for its success over the years, [so] it was something new for the team to have success.”

Thanks to Davison averaging over 53 for the season, as well as Barry Dudlestone, Chris Balderstone and John Steele all also passing 1000 runs in the Championship – with Ray Illingworth and Roger Tolchard close behind – it was a phenomenal batting line-up.

The bowling attack – Illingworth, Steele, Balderstone, Norman McVicker, Jack Birkenshaw, Ken Higgs and Graham McKenzie – was so strong that Wisden termed it “an almost embarrassing array of talent”.

It was a team that thoroughly deserved its rewards.

When victory finally belonged to the Foxes, it had taken close to a hundred years to come. But it didn’t come easily, and Lancashire pushed right to the last game of the season.

Had it not been for Graham McKenzie making a not-out 44 (from number 10, and in his final First Class match, no less) it may have been a very different task.

But after that season, things started to thin out for Leicestershire – McKenzie left for a well-deserved retirement, while Norman McVicker faded away not long afterward, and Ray Illingworth eventually returned to Yorkshire. Even with the talents of David Gower, Nigel Briers and James Whitaker coming through, it was a wealth of experience being lost.

So in 1979, Mike Turner appointed Ken Higgs as Leicestershire’s new captain. Higgs was a senior figure in the side – 42 years of age, plenty of international experience, and a great understanding of his own game. Unfortunately, that didn’t translate into leadership success. “A very good bowler,” Roger Tolchard remembers, “but a hopeless captain.”

It meant there was likely to be an opening leading into 1980; and it was a vacancy and opportunity which would be afforded to Davison. He had a chance to prove his captaincy credentials leading into the season, too, with his first summer in Australia. Leaving his homeland, especially for a self-described patriot, was difficult.

“Very difficult, very, very difficult. There was no doubt about that. But my wife Caroline had said, ‘we’ve got some children here, the situation in Zimbabwe’s not looking too stable, we need to have some stability for our children. You’ve been offered the chance to go to Tasmania, we should take it.’

“After much procrastination, and a little bit of cajoling, I knew she was right, and we came out here. And never, ever worried about a thing. Very lucky to be immigrants to Australia, and loved every moment of it.”

While being an honorary Tasmanian had its frustrations – not least among them that the side only played five-eighths of a Sheffield Shield season – it afforded Davison the chance to experience Australian cricket, with a cricketing culture more like his own, and gave him the challenge of captaining the weakest (and youngest) side of a brutal competition.

The downside was that such a cricketing spirit and culture wasn’t replicated in England. So, though he got to take on the Leicester reigns in 1980, it essentially had him running at loggerheads.

“No, I didn’t [enjoy it]. I had aspirations to captain, I got the job, and I was then undermined, while I was away doing some things. English county clubs are still about toeing the line, and I was not a line-toer, as they say. So I got into trouble by questioning a few umpire’s decisions, which they were unhappy about, and were quite happy to get the yes men in after me. That doesn’t matter. That happens.”

Tasmania was different, he says, because “you were allowed to express yourself, and that’s what it should be about.”

“Not everyone agrees with what everyone does in life, but you should have an opinion and you should be able to express yourself,” Davison reflects. “I wasn’t derogatory about anyone, or nasty with anyone. I didn’t threaten anyone,” at this point Davison pauses, then laughs. “Well, I may have.”

Roger Tolchard, who succeeded Davison as skipper, recalls that “the captaincy came at a bad time for him, really. From being a very good side, we were not quite as good, so he had a tough job on his hands. We were better than ordinary, but not as good as we had been.”

“I think he only did it for a year, and then he put his foot into it somehow. He argued with the boss, our manager, over something. I can’t actually remember what it was. And hence he took away the captaincy, it was some trivial thing, but big enough to say ‘well, you can’t be captain anymore’. That’s why he only did one year. Which was a shame.”

“He didn’t take it very well. He was angry,” here, Tolchard puts on a mock-dramatic tone, “He was angry! for a while. He was his own worst enemy sometimes, because he could go off.”

There’s no doubt, though, that it was clash destined to go wrong eventually – a strong-headed Davison met a county administrator who wouldn’t back down either.

Just as Davison surprised those in the Rhodesian camp with his successful stint as captain, so earlier Leicestershire teammates didn’t expect him to later become the county’s skipper. “I probably wouldn’t have predicted it in the early years, no,” Graham McKenzie admits. “He certainly would’ve been able to lead by example, for sure.”

In the midst of it all, he was still an excellent influence. Nigel Briers, who was still only in his mid-twenties in 1980, recalls that Davison had “a toughness about him,” and that “you didn’t mess with him, that’s for sure.”

While he had that tough exterior, “he also showed quite a bit of empathy for younger players as well. There was that tough side there, but there was a bit of feeling as well.”

Just as Davison feels he was “a better Indian than a Chief,” so Briers calls Davison a “soldier’s soldier” who, though having leadership qualities, was at his best as one of the lads; “as the right-hand man in the team.”

The one thing that didn’t change, irrespective of who was captain, was Davison’s run-scoring. He scored 1310 First Class runs in 1980, averaging 47, and then went back Down Under and made it big.

Tasmania only played seven First Class matches in the season, yet Davison still hit over 800 runs – his average was nearly 69, and having hit a century in the last Shield game of 1979-80, 138 against Victoria, he hit four in the first four of 1980-81. South Australia in Adelaide, Victoria in Hobart, Queensland in Brisbane, finishing with 114 against Western Australia in the midst of a Bruce Yardley rout.

Five consecutive Sheffield Shield hundreds – and almost six, falling for 82 against New South Wales in the last game of the season.

Frankly, it was on a level very, very few batsmen have equalled.

“What motivated me? I saw that we had this young group of kids, who had a lot of potential, who needed some leadership.

“At the same time I was conscious that it was going to be my last couple of years, so I had to buckle down and do something which I hadn’t done for the 12 years prior to that. So I was really motivated to do things.”

Back in Britain, that 1981 could be considered a slow year by his standards says a lot about just how high those standards were – he still made a shy under 1200 First Class runs at an average of 39.9, and made ten scores over 50.

But the subsequent southern summer, 1981-82, was equally sedate (though, again, saw valuable contributions) and Davison decided to really leave everything on the park when he returned to the UK in 1982.

“The time I tried the hardest was in 1982. When I saw the writing was on the wall – and I had a chance of playing for England. That year, if you look at my stats, that’s when I got the seven hundreds for Leicester, [a year earlier] I got five consecutive hundreds in Australia, and there was a call from the vice-captain of England, a guy called D Gower, which said ‘are you available for England? We’re about to pick the team, but we’re going to pick you’. I said, ‘well, I don’t know’.

“Anyway, about two hours later I got a call from him saying ‘the Test and County Cricket Board have said there are too many overseas players, even though you’re all qualified for England, and you’re the oldest so you’ve been left out’. That was ’82. That’s when the tour came to Australia. That was the year when I really tried, that was my best year. Amazing what you can set your mind to do when you do, instead of being an amateur as Illy would say.”

Would it have been difficult, as a strong Rhodesian patriot, to appear in English colours?

“I wouldn’t have played! It would’ve just been nice to have been offered. That was the thing, you see, I wouldn’t have – but it was just nice, you always want to test yourself at the top level, don’t you? And I wasn’t able to. So I would’ve thought about it, but I would’ve said no. I’m still a strong believer that you should only be allowed to play for where you’re born, but the world’s changed, hasn’t it?”

Added to runs galore and a near-Test call up, 1982 was Davison’s benefit season – one of the greatest signs of just how much he contributed to that Leicestershire unit. But on the other side of the world, Davison decided to take a summer off with Tasmania – even though that meant missing out on Tasmania’s first full season of Sheffield Shield cricket, something that Davison’s pressuring had gone some way to securing. (He did, though, return for 1983-84.)

“I could see I was getting to the end of my career, and they were messing about and making demands, and I thought, ‘well, I don’t need it’, I was starting a business. So I didn’t do it.”

Leading into the 1983 summer, the legendary Wisden editor John Woodcock wrote that “Were Davison English, as distinct from being qualified to play for England, he would surely be in the England side.”

Davison did prove that point – he made over 1400 runs, racked up three more centuries, and showed plenty of his fires of 1982. In a World Cup warm-up match between Leicestershire and Zimbabwe, he even hit his ex-teammate John Traicos for six sixes in an over. But this would end up as his last season with Leicestershire. Between his cricketing spirit, which was always more in-tune with the Australian or Rhodesian way of cricket – “it was definitely not English,” comments Graham McKenzie – and the lingering issues of the captaincy debacle, Davison decided to exit stage.

“I was unhappy with the attitudes that they’d had in terms of the captaincy, after giving me an undertaking that it would take some time to get a new team ready and organised. And then I was ostracised – which was up to them – and I said ‘well, I don’t need to have a hard time’. So I just said, ‘see ya’.”

He was still, technically, contracted to Leicestershire through 1984 – and so missed an entire English season. It took him until 1985, when he got a chance with Gloucestershire, to have his county swansong.

“Wonderful! A wonderful time. Young David Graveney, who’s always been a very nice man, and Courtney Walsh, Kevin Curran was there – another ex-Zimbabwe fella. I had a wonderful time with a group of not great players, but certainly good players, who were enjoying what they were doing – and having a crack. We ended up second or third that season, and we were so close to winning it.”

It was a fine way for Davison to exit English cricket for good: “Of course after that, they decided I wasn’t English – which is quite right. And I had to go and do bits and pieces, so I stopped playing.”

He even turned down an offer to go back to Zimbabwe – “I was offered the chance of playing for Zimbabwe, and I chose not to. And it was not the reason that I wasn’t proud to be associated with, it was because I hadn’t been back in a number of years, like six or seven. I just felt, imagine if it’d been me who had worked my butt off to get into the Zimbabwe team, and someone who didn’t even live there anymore came back and took over that mantle from me, I’d be very disappointed. I felt that that was not the right thing to do, morally.”

To all intents and purposes, he’d walked away from the game entirely – aside from one limited overs match in October ’85, Davison had exited the Tasmanian team as well. He left behind a litany of stories and memories for those that had played both with, and against, him.

Mark Ray, then-New South Wales and later Davison’s teammate for Tasmania, remembers an incident that spread like wildfire around the Australian cricketing scene in the early ‘80s.

“It was before I went down there, I think it might’ve been the season before. […] Dennis Lillee bounced him, hit him in the head, I think it was at Devonport. A pretty solid blow. Davo stayed out there, and next ball Dennis bounced him again – and he hooked him for six. I know Dennis respected him a lot, and I think the word went around that this guy’s not only a very good player, but a tough guy.”

“The thing with Davo’s batting that was unusual,” Ray recalls, “was that he wasn’t a player that pushed for ones and twos and all of that. If he defended, he defended with a dead bat and just blocked it. And then he hit it. There wasn’t a lot in between, and it was a really strong technique for him, and when he played a shot, he was aiming to hit it for four or six. And that’s what he’d do.”

Most importantly, Davison “had the respect of all the other teams. They all rated him.”

One thing that definitely didn’t age well was Davison’s bowling – long gone were the days of aggressive seam-up. According to Ray, by his Tasmanian years, it was a much more eccentric style that came to the fore.

“I think I only saw him do this once, but the guys used to talk about it. With his bowling, even in First Class matches in Australia, he – before I got down there – he bowled almost lobs. He’d actually bowl high full-tosses and try and drop them on the stumps, hit the stumps on the full.”

As for Davison the skipper, Barbadian import Franklyn Stephenson – who, in 1981-82, was playing his very first season of First Class cricket – remembers his leader’s impact acutely.

“Oh, my captain!” Stephenson exclaims when I mention Davison’s name. “Yes,” he says, pausing for a deep laugh, “we had a lot of fun.”

“Total respect, total respect. He was a very hard cricketer, he was a very intense person but he knew what he wanted, and he made light work of it in a sense. He was very easy to play with, and a very easy captain to respect, and I have great admiration for him.”

Where Patrick Patterson came into conflict with Davison and then-captain Roger Woolley, Stephenson didn’t have any issues as a Caribbean cricketer under Davison’s leadership, and offers a slight rebuke of how some West Indian cricketers sometimes behaved.

“No, none at all, absolutely none at all. Some players from the Caribbean, I think we squandered a lot of good competitions around the world, a lot of good positions, and closed doors for other people. But I always found Brian Davison a very respectable character, as I say we had a lot of fun. […] There was never an issue, he was always amicable – and uplifting.”

Stephenson puts Davison in the category of Clive Rice, Kepler Wessels and Brian Close – “these guys wouldn’t show you any sort of pain when they were at the crease, no matter what you did. They were in a battle, and [Davison] played his cricket on those lines. He was not the most technical, but you wouldn’t find a harder competitor.”

So when Davison departed from cricket in 1985, and started to throw himself into both business and involvement with the Tasmanian Cricket Association, he was able to reflect on a superb cricketing legacy. To all intents and purposes it was over; it was done.

But in 1987-88, by then in his forties, his adopted state came calling one more time – they needed a captain, and he was the team man willing to put the health of the region’s game ahead of his own stats or pride. It was a comeback which, like everything else in his career, was done in some way that made him the exception to the norm.

And, once again, Davison is sure to play down his own role.

“I was on the Tasmanian cricket board, and they couldn’t find anyone they wanted to captain the team, and play for Tasmania – they were waiting for Dirk Welham or young Greg Shipperd to come back. So I was just a infill captain, an infill player, just filling in the gap to make sure the boys were going ahead in the right direction. So they didn’t go backwards, it’s all that was – just an interim gapfiller. It was silly to play, but it was still enjoyable.”

One thing that Davison’s influence managed to secure was nothing short of a coup – at the peak of all his issues at a state and national level, Dennis Lillee headed to Tasmania to reboot his career. Not only was Davison the man that secured Lillee’s services, but he and wife Caroline even hosted Lillee in their own home.

“Loved it, absolutely loved it. We’d had altercations before, on the field, because he’s a very competitive man – I respect him highly. And I had a bit of a confrontation with him at Devonport, where I’d come out on top, but to his credit he’s always treated me extremely well, and I’ve always found him to be a good friend – but a wonderful antagonist.”

It was a hell of a bowler to have onside too. And for Richard Soule, a young wicket-keeper, having Lillee’s first ball for Tasmania ‘caught Soule, bowled Lillee’ was a dream come true: “he just about wet himself with ecstasy!”

This was, finally, Davison’s last retirement. After leaving Leicestershire, after concluding with Gloucestershire, and after a stop-start finish with Tasmania, his cricketing career finally strode off the Adelaide Oval in March 1988, after losing a McDonald’s Cup semi-final to the South Australians.

Aside from a game a month later, a genteel affair with the Old England XI, Davison’s career had walked off the field and onto the pages of Wisden.

“I’m very happy with whatever’s happened in my life, there were changing guards that happened all the time, when I was in the administrative side of Tasmania I loved it, but then there’s things that have got to take over, things have got to happen.

“We all have our time, and I’ve avidly watched all the people I’ve ever played with – even extended to Leicestershire winning the Premier League soccer, we used to go down when Peter Shilton was there, and Gary Lineker, and they were well down the order and never looked like winning. […] All those things I keep very close tabs on, and watch who’s doing what and what’s happening.”

Yet Davison’s life was still, even then, eventful. He spent, by his count, 11 years on the Tasmanian Cricket Association – right through the period when Greg Shipperd laid some outstanding groundwork as coach, capitalised upon by Tim Coyle, later culminating in an eventual Shield title. Today, Tasmania are in the position of being equals to any other state.

“I’m very, very proud of the transformation from the Tasmanian team. All we were able to do as administrators was give them the basis for them to go forward, and not feel like second-class players within the environment of the Sheffield Shield. And that’s exactly what we did.

“As administrators we built that ground to the stage where we were competitive off the field, and then it was so much easier to be competitive on the field. Originally, administration within Tasmanian cricket was very, very ordinary. Our job was to make sure those players never felt uncomfortable, or lesser than any other players in the Shield, and they responded – and ended up being very, very good players and having great success. Of which we’re very proud.”

Perhaps the most surprising of all Davison’s career twists and turns – even more of a surprise than becoming such a well-regarded Rhodesian captain, more of a surprise than becoming an honorary Tasmanian, and more of a surprise than going from niggly medium pace to world-class batsman in the first place – was his shift to politics.

As a member of the Tasmanian Parliament for the centre-right Liberal Party, Davison decided to enter that side of public life “For all the reasons that anyone else would do it. That you think you can make a difference, and a big difference.”

“The reality,” Davison now says, “is that you really need power to make change, and you can’t make change, but it was a wonderful experience to go through it and see how the whole bureaucracy and the whole Parliament works – or doesn’t work. To speak from experience of that was a worthwhile episode in anyone’s life.”

Davison admits that he was “just not thick-skinned enough for that”.

“You’ve got to be a bit thick-skinned, and I wasn’t. I used to get very upset with people saying things about me that wasn’t true, and it was all done in the jousting of Parliament, and the jousting of the so-called ‘anecdotal’ way people went about doing things, and I don’t like that. If it’s untrue, you shouldn’t say it.”

On whether he was happy to leave Parliament in 1996, after six years in the house, Davison says that “in fact, yes I was.”

“If you know the history of it, I was so jacked with it, I said the only way we’re going to do anything is, I called for the death penalty. You can’t get much more of a suicidal attempt than that, can you?”

Davison has an even bigger laugh than normal, and then declares: “So. Now you can have another think about how you’re going to take my story.”

And while it might now be a topic to laugh about – after all, you don’t get much more politically suicidal than that – it was over a serious topic: gun laws.

Tasmania had recently brought in new laws in that area, and they were ones Davison describes as “ridiculous,” and “so stupid.” So he called for a ‘real deterrent’, essentially at the end of his tether, and was tragically proven right on the law’s flaws, given the terrible massacre of not long afterward.

“And that’s the tragedy of it, that’s the tragedy. I’m not saying it wouldn’t have happened, but it’s just terrible to think of what in fact occurred, and how it occurred, and the gun laws put in place – which I washed my hands of – were just so naïve. Naïve, that’s all you can say.”

It was a political hot potato with a heart-breaking ending. But Davison looks past that, and is able to reflect more fondly on other parts of his time as a politician. “I was able to do a lot of good for some people, and for that I’m very grateful. But the rest of it is…yes. Interesting, but unbecoming I think.”

Ray Groom, for one period Davison’s Liberal Party leader in the Tasmanian Parliament, recalls his caucus member warmly.

“Brian proved to be a very able Parliamentarian. He was a strong advocate for his local community mainly concentrating on grassroots issues such as jobs for young people and the cost of living. It goes without saying that he was also an ardent supporter of anything and everything relating to cricket and managed to gain government support for significant improvements to the Bellerive Oval in Hobart. Brian had some quite strong views on certain social issues which he expressed with great force in the Partyroom.

“But the quality which stood out for me was Brian’s unswerving loyalty to his constituents and his colleagues. Brian was a team player in Parliament as he was in sport. It was never what was best for Brian but was always what was best for others. As a result he was very popular and greatly respected.”

Groom well understood Davison’s aversion to criticism and personal attacks: “We all feel it no matter how strong we might appear to be.”

***

But Parliament, as cricket and business, is now well behind Davison. He stills follows cricket closely – we had an interesting discussion on the travails of Aaron Finch’s career – and loves the game no less. He plays golf, he keeps up with mates, and still lives and loves life.

He bids farewell with a hope that he’d been able to help, and best wishes with my studies, and we called it a day.

For so many people, the name Brian Davison still does, and will continue to, invoke memories of a highly-regarded man and a great cricketer. It’s not cricket, coaching, administration or public service that best sums Davison up, though.

It’s a memory belonging to Nigel Briers, driving home from a match in Northamptonshire, that best describes Brian Fettes Davison: not the sportsman, but the man.

“He saved a woman’s life once,” Briers begins.

“It was a rain affected day and the match had been called off. We were going back from Northampton to Leicester along the main road, that went through countryside as well. This car coming on the opposite side started to veer, and go side-to-side, and went through a hedge and into a field. You thought, ‘blimey, someone’s had a bit to drink’.

“But we got out, there was myself, Les Taylor, and a supporter there called Doug. All we could see in the field was this car, and it was smothered in bees. The queen bee had flown through the window of this car, and Davo being the macho man he was, he went in and yanked this woman out. He got her out that car, she was covered in bees. He got her out.

“That moment, when he pulled her out of the car – she sat in front of me, we got her in our car, and all I can remember is the head was full of bees, they were flying around everywhere. It was quite a moment. I don’t know what happened after that, I think we dropped her off somewhere, but I think that was a key moment.

“I think he probably did save her life.”

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2 thoughts on “Brian Davison: Soldier, Warrior, Unexpected Chief (pt. 2)

  1. In my opinion he was the greatest player ever to have played for Rhodesia, and he was a good friend, I remember him hitting me for many sixes, the first one at an under-13 school game onto the roof of the Gifford School hall.
    I have always followed his career and am proud to have been able to call him a friend.

    Like

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