The Monday Profile: Claude Davis
Davis excelled at Preston despite tough competition in the centre back position from Chris Lucketti and Youl Mawene, scooping a player of the year award in 2005-6 and featuring in successive play off campaigns — what would Peter Ridsdale’s beleaguered and financial stricken club do for those days now?
A rock solid 2005-6 season helped Davis, a native of Kingston’s Rae Town neighbourhood, catch the eye of Neil Warnock — everyone’s favourite snarler bringing him to Bramall Lane at the onset of a new Premier League season. Injury meant the Jamaican had to start the season on the sidelines and he was to turn out only 22 times for the Blades, playing the last eleven minutes on the apocalyptic final afternoon at home to Wigan.
Not always the most financially prudent of clubs, United nonetheless recovered the £3 million fee they had disbursed for Davis as he joined the unexpectedly promoted Derby County just a year after crossing the threshold of the Lane. Unfortunately, the genesis of the now popular chant directed at Rams fans of ‘worst team in his-tory’ can be traced back to this cataclysmic season. On departing Pride Park for Crystal Palace with two years of his contract remaining, Davis was dubbed the club’s worst ever major signing by local journalist Gerald Mortimer and if the sheer strength of the Premier league in a season where its top two clubs battled it out in the Champions League final does provide an excuse, it was certainly an unhappy time.
There was also a darker side to the late noughties for Davis — an incident in training that saw Ade Akinbiyi state ‘I’m not saying he did or didn’t pull out a knife’ blighted his time in Sheffield, although Warnock, absent on the day the incident was alleged to have occurred described the rumours as ‘rubbish’. Then, the Jamaican was banned for 3 games at Palace for a challenge on Cardiff’s Roger Johnson that Dave Jones described as ‘scandalous’. That Davis himself admits in an interview dating back to his time at Deepdale that ‘I like to over see play and also be smacking people about sometimes’ does not provide thorough evidence for the defence.
But the man who, like 10CC, doesn’t like cricket, is surely a real capture for Crawley. The aggressive streak he readily admits to has already served the Red Devils well in recent weeks. Hard as nails he may be, but he’s also lean and quick for a 32 year old and surely capable of playing a level higher. Those pre-season predictions for Steve Evans’ merry band are looking very accurate indeed now.