Davies had it all
Wednesday, 6th July, 2011
Blessed with unbridled natural talent, former Central BH player Neil Davies enjoyed a diverse and success football career across the nation.
Davies joined Glenelg from the BH Magpies in 1951, having an immediate impact. After just three SANFL matches he was selected in the state squad for the clash against the Victorian Football Association and he played an important role as South Australia scored a 95-point victory.
In a book on the history of the Glenelg Football Club titled “Pride of the Bay”, written by Peter Cornwall and John Wood, this is how Davies was described:
“It was obvious to Ray Curnow and Tigers vice president Warren Brown, this Broken Hill boy - who could play anywhere and single-handedly turn a game - was not your average recruit.”
The critics and fans alike were left in no doubt of that the following week against West Torrens when the speedy and stylish Davies outshone (dual Magarey medallist) Bob Hank in the centre.
Having all the attributes required of a league footballer including aggression, speed and skill, in 1953 Davies won Glenelg’s best and fairest award, and was runner up to South Adelaide’s Jim Deane in the Magarey Medal.
One of South Australia’s best performers in the 1953 national championships in Adelaide, Davies collected All-Australian selection.
He would go on to represent the SA state team on 20 occasions during the 1950s, captaining the Croweaters in both 1957 and 1958 and booting 11 goals. He became the first Glenelg footballer to be honoured as the on-field leader of the South Australians.
In 1955 Neil Davies moved to VFL side Richmond but he quit after just two games because of what he considered to be harsh treatment from the club.
Davies decided to travel around Australia. Arriving in Darwin, he captain-coached the famous St Marys “Green Machine” to a premiership along with winning the Nichols Medal as the best player in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL).
At the same time as playing Aussie Rules - and looking to occupy his Sunday afternoons - Davies played in the local rugby league competition.
His talent was that impressive in this other football code that he attracted the attention of international talent scouts from British team Warrington, who enticed him to join them for a short time that winter.
At the start of the 1956 southern winter Neil Davies was back at the Bay Oval.
He collected his second best and fairest award and topped Glenelg’s goal kicking.
The following year he was appointed captain - a position he held for three years.
In the 1958 and 1959 campaigns Davies coached the Bays as well, steering them to a preliminary final in the second year, where they went down to a Port Magpies machine that would go on to win a sixth successive crown.
During an Advertiser Cup night match against Sturt in 1959, Davies suffered a career-changing knee injury.
His 209-game team mate Colin Richens said; “He had amazing pace and was at his best before the injury. He had to be tough to come back from his terrible knee injuries and still be very, very good”.
After 143 games and 105 goals as predominantly a midfielder, Davies retired from SA football at the end of the 1963 season.
He then spent the final four seasons of his senior career with Western Districts in Queensland, where he also represented Queensland’s interstate team.
He was one of the original inductees in the SANFL Hall of Fame in 2002 and also was honoured by Glenelg, being among the club’s Hall of Fame inductees for the period between 1940 and 1960, along with Ray Hunt, Allan Crabb, Don Hewett and Colin Churchett.
This Broken Hill and Glenelg great - and the Brighton Road-based club’s first All-Australian - passed away in February, 2009 at the age of 77.