‘It’s the celebration of a life, NOT a funeral – it’s nothing as sombre as that.’
And so the tone for the farewell to Fred Davies today was set by the unrelated Philip Davies, the official conducting the proceedings.
A look round those in Telford Crematorium underlined the point…..his daughters Lindsey and Gaynor wore brighter clothes than is usual on such occasions and the Lord’s Prayer was given something of a makeover!
We were also reminded that there was much more than football to the man who played 173 matches for Wolves, although the game was well to the fore during a service kicked off by the playing of You’ll Never Walk Alone and containing readings of two themed poems, The Goalie With The Expandable Hands and Blessed Is The People’s Club.
We have said before that one of the sadnesses of a life of 81 years is that many of those who would normally want to be present to say goodbye are either no longer around or maybe not strong enough to do so.
Coronavirus has made attendance even more difficult but, among those who managed to get there, it was good to see Ted Farmer and wife Vicky and the Wolves Former Players Association’s Richard Green.
Shrewsbury, the club Fred guided to promotion and the League Two title in 1993-94, were well represented through a cluster of former players – Dean Spink, Kevin Summerfield, Steve Anthrobus, Mark Taylor and Mickey Brown, Summerfield appearing in a blue match shirt from the era.
And former Wolves midfielder Dave Edwards, who attributed his devotion to all things Gay Meadow to the squad who also went to Wembley in the 1995-96 Auto Windscreens Shield, tweeted recently: “Fred Davies and his success was the start of my love for Salop. RIP.”
Away from the game, we learned that Davies – the youngest of three children – had married Maureen in 1961 after meeting her at a dance at the Civic in Wolverhampton.
That was a regular haunt for players and their sweethearts then but there was little about life during his many years in the game that could be classed as normal.
He was on an end-of-season Cardiff tour of Mauritius and Zambia when Lindsey arrived and she and sister Gaynor had three senior schools in three years as the jobs treadmill took him far and wide.
They are aspects of football that many of us do not appreciate, especially with someone like him who called time on his playing career because of a fractured vertebra in his neck and then set off on the coaching and management circuit.
Maureen passed away in 2004 following a series of mini-strokes but Fred happily remained in the Telford area and we saw plenty of him at Molineux dinners, golf days and even the occasional Wolves match.
In reminding our readers that we posted a lengthy tribute to him in the Obituaries area of this site shortly after his passing-away on September 2, we close this piece with The Footballer’s Prayer that was read out this afternoon shortly before the Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life exit music:
Our team, which art eleven, hallowed be thy game, our match be won, their score be none, on turf as we score at least seven. Give us today our daily red…card, and forgive us our lost passes, as we forgive those who lose passes against us. Lead us not into retaliation and deliver us from penalties, for three is the kick-off, the power and scorer, for ever and ever, full-time.