In December 1970, Harry Catterick paid Swansea City £20,000 for their promising young goalkeeper, Dai Davies. When he sold Andy Rankin to Watford the following year, it seemed as if Davies was the preferred long-term successor to Gordon West. However, the record-breaking acquisition of David Lawson in summer 1972 seemingly put paid to such hopes and, save for a couple of appearances in spring 1971, Evertonians did not get a glimpse of Davies until September 1974.
A former PE teacher who had forgone the profession to make his way as a footballer with Swansea, Davies was a big, brave goalkeeper and fine shot-stopper. His inclusion in the Everton team near the start of the 1974/75 season coincided with an ultimately unsuccessful league title challenge and the start of a distinguished international career for Davies.
And yet the Welshman never really convinced between the Everton posts. He was prone to frustrating inconsistency – a world-beater one week, erratic the next – that fomented uncertainty among the defence and earned him the unwelcome nickname ‘Dai the Drop’. Having been between the posts for most of the 1974/75 season, he lost his place to Lawson at the start of the following campaign and spent most of the next two years alternating with his rival. The signing of George Wood in summer 1977 spelled the end for Davies, who joined Wrexham for £8000 in September that year.
ALWAYS ONE of football’s more colourful characters – his autobiography Hanner Cystal a’ Nhad (‘Half the Man my Father Was’) was a rare Welsh-language football book, and he was reputedly inducted into a community of druids while still a player – Davies continued to represent Wales until 1982, when he lost his place to Neville Southall. After retiring in 1984 he opened a craft shop in Mold but was called out of retirement in 1985 by Bangor, who utilised his experience against Frederikstad FK and Atletico Madrid in the European Cup Winners’ Cup. The following season he rejoinedWrexham, playing in their successful challenge for the Welsh FA Cup as their regular goalkeeper was cup-tied. Davies combines work as a Welsh-language football pundit for S4C with the running of a natural healing centre.