by Keith Brookman
All of us associated with the Bristol Rovers Former Players Association are sad to learn of the passing of former Rovers defender Joe Davis, at the age of 80.
Joseph, who attended Staple Hill School and played for Gloucestershire Boys and Soundwell as a youngster, had a trial with Chelsea before signing for Rovers in 1956 and later played for Swansea Town [now known as Swansea City] before taking on coaching roles with Rovers.
Born in Bristol on 24th August 1938, Joe went on to score four goals in 211 league games for Rovers.
A central defender/full back, he made his first team debut on 25th February 1961 in a 4-1 home win against Luton Town, watched by a crowd of 13,102.
When on trial at Chelsea he boarded with Roy Bentley but decided that London wasn’t for him and returned to Bristol, spending the majority of his playing career with Rovers.
His National Service was spent at Devizes with Pay Corps, for whom he played in the Services Cup Final, which was lost 1-0 to the REME (The Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers).
He was Rovers’ Player of the Year in 1964/65, and became the first substitute used by the club in League football, when he replaced Ray Mabbutt in the ninth league game of the 1965/66 campaign. That match was a 3-0 win against Walsall at Eastville on 2nd October 1965, watched by a crowd of 9,357.
A natural right footer, he worked on improving his ability with his left foot and scored all four of his Rovers goals with that foot and all were from the penalty spot!
He left Rovers in March 1967 and signed for Swansea Town but made just 38 league appearances for them as an Achilles problem disrupted his progress at the Vetch Field.
On his retirement from the game Joe became a newsagent and then was employed by the Bristol Evening Post for 30 years, working from 1973 as field sales manager. He was also a committee member of Rovers’ Ex-Players’ Club.
Joe also returned to Rovers and, at different times up until 1978, was a scout, youth coach, A team coach and assistant chief scout. Many players who came through the ranks at the club, such as Gary Penrice, Ian Holloway, Steve White and Paul Randall, received a helping hand from Joe as their careers progressed from youth team to first team football.
Joe often played alongside his cousin, Bobby Jones, for Rovers and always spoke fondly of his time with the club.
I was fortunate to meet Joe on many occasions whilst I was employed by Rovers and he loved to get along to as many home games as possible and was always grateful to the club for making sure he had a ticket for those games.
A modest and kind man, he was good enough to let me borrow some of the photos he had from his time as a Rovers player, a couple of which have been reproduced here.
Joe will be missed by many and the thoughts of everyone go out to Joe’s family and friends at this sad time.