Throwback Thursday: Mark Davies
Posted: 19 April 2018 Time: 14:30
Former Manning Rangers defender Mark Davies says winning the inaugural Premier Soccer League in 1997 was the highlight of his football career.
Davies, a one-club man who retired in 2003, captained that side, which was coached by former Bafana Bafana tactician Gordon Igesund.
Davies' teammates back then included the late Keryn Jordan, Golden Arrows coach Clinton Larsen, Grant Johnson, Solomozi Nzimande, Nkophitheni Matombo, Percival Moletsane, Liswa Nduti, Fees Moloi, Sipho Nzuzo, Simon Makhubela, Warren Lewis, Gilbert Mushangazhike, Bradley Muir and Innocent Chikoya.
Rangers won 23 matches en-route to 73 points, finishing 10 points clear of Kaizer Chiefs in the then 18-team topflight.
“Winning the league obviously, as it was the inaugural Premiership and no one else can have that platform. It was great. I was ecstatic, over the moon,” Davies tells KickOff.com.
“I think it is a high point in anyone’s career and for me obviously as the captain it was a very good highlight for me.
“I think as a team we were good and that time we had good players who gelled as a team. I also think the reason why we did so well was because we played well as a team. Everybody fought for everyone else and together with the coach Igesund, who had tactical experience, that helped us to win.
“We won the league by 10 points and the closest was Chiefs. I think Rangers as a team, they formed such a good team and the camaraderie between the players that was one of the biggest things... there were no issues with any of the players.
“Everyone went to war and fought for each other. It didn’t matter where you went, we knew that every player had your back. So as a team we combined well.”
Davies, who started his career in 1991, says he was inspired by former Chiefs, Bidvest Wits and Manchester United goalkeeper Gary Bailey in his youth, while he also holds great respect for Bafana Bafana and Leeds United legend Lucas Radebe.
“I just fell in love with the game at the age of six and it was something that I wanted to do,” he says.
“I always wanted to train hard and I just had a passion for the game.
“But the first time I really watched football was when Man United were playing against Arsenal and United lost 3-2 in the FA Cup final [in 1979 at Wembley Stadium]. Gary Bailey was in goals and he’s South African and I said to myself, ‘hey, there’s a South African there and I’d like to follow that side’.
“I was still a youngster and I just enjoyed watching that game. A reason I took so much interest was because Gary Bailey was South African and he was involved at that stage, and that is the reason why I fell in love with the game.
“Also I think the one who stands out for me, from a professional point of view, is Lucas Radebe. Although he was in the same era as me, maybe slightly older than me or younger than me, for me he was a true professional - the way he conducted himself on and off the pitch.
“He was captain of Leeds and to captain a Premier League side and be a South African, that is a great achievement. I think he portrayed a very good role model as a sportsman.”
Davies, who is a qualified electrical engineer, now works for Liquid Telecom as an operations manager.
“I work for Liquid Telecom and the company is fairly new. It was previously known as Neotel and Liquid bought them out. It’s only been a year now.
“Fortunately I did study before I became a professional player, so I did have a trade behind my name with electrical engineering. I’m qualified for that.
“I’ve always been working all along. In the early days we didn’t train like it is now. We used to train after hours at night. It only happened towards the end of my career where it became more professional, where we used to train during the day and later in the evening.
“I knew that soccer was a short career. And for me, and I think most of the players at that time, we were in it for the love of football more than anything else. I played football because I loved football, not to make money out of it.
“Obviously money wasn’t something you’d say no to and wouldn’t take, but for me it was a lot about the passion for the game basically.”