I decided (genuinely) I was going to write this article about Simon Davies on my walk into Uni this morning before Chris’ superb article on Dempsey’s five years at Fulham; it seems even more appropriate now. Davies and Dempsey share many things in common; both joined in January 2007, their surnames share the same first letter and their combination of work rate, determination and no lack of skill which has made them both fans favourites.
Aside from that though their Fulham careers have been quite different. Davies was able to play in the team and play quite consistently for the first eight or nine months whereas Dempsey was about the side but not quite a regular. Perhaps this was expected, Davies had been a top flight player for some time, having been touted as a very very good player in the making when he joined Spurs from Peterborough along with his opposite wing man Etherington, now at Stoke (and it is interesting the pattern of their careers is very similar too). The run up to the arrival of Roy brought about some spectacular and fairly forgotten goals from Davies, including a 20 lob over a crowded penalty area against Arsenal in May, a 30 yard free kick against Sunderland and the sweetest volley you’ll ever likely to see, struck against Reading. He was a vital player in that ‘Great Escape’ season where he made 37 appearances, with a number of great performances, consistent displays despite the turmoil around him and a few goals capped off with a remark just before the Portsmouth game which about sums him up and made him very much worthy of our player of the season:
I’d stay [if Fulham were relegated]. I think if you go down with a club, you owe it really to try, as a group of players, to get back up.
The next season he was again a very valid contributer, with both him and Dempsey (after an awkward first few games on he bench) taking our flanks; Davies offering the width down the right with Dempsey positioned in left midfield. The duo were key cogs of a machine that took us to our highest ever league finish and, perhaps more importantly, Europe, a competition in which these double Ds would secure their place at the top of the ‘Fulham’s greatest moments’ list.
The Premier League took a backseat during the 2009/10 season so it’s no suprise that no one really remembers how much Davies struggled in it, making just 17 league appearances. More importantly though, he made 11 in our European campaign and what an impact he had. After Dempsey’s moment (I won’t use any adjectives because it is and always will be indescribable) against Juve it is almost impossible to imagine another one coming close to it, but Davies did his best when, with 1-0 to Hamburg on the scoreboard and 70 minutes gone on the clock, he collected a Danny Murphy clipped pass behind with his hell, flicked it 180 degrees to turn the defender more than an F1 car’s steering wheel before finishing into the net. The scene was set, and 20 minutes later we were in a European final. But Davies wasn’t finished there. Once again we found ourselves 1-0 down before Davies volleyed at goal from close range, beating the teenage protégé David De Gea in goal. Alas, the script wasn’t followed and the failure to add any more to our tally meant that Forlan’s extra time goal was enough to beat us. But still, Simon Davies gave us that magical moment in Hamburg which will be almost impossible to forget for all the Fulham fans who saw it.
It’s there really where Davies’ and Dempsey’s Fulham careers started to diverge, but this time in opposite directions to their convergence. Davies still played his part, infact played his part 30 times, in the league including a goal against United but his performances weren’t like Dempsey’s, who finally added consistency and a matureness to his audacity and finished with 12 goals and the player of the season award. Davies scored just 4. And after that it’s been very much truncated, with injury limiting him to just 3 appearances this season, in stark comparison to Dempsey who already has 2 hattricks, 15 goals and a 15m pound price tag to his name. Aged 32, competition from Dembele, Ruiz, Dempsey, Frei, Kasami and Duff on the wings, and with injury troubles to boot, things aren’t looking too bright for his future in the team.
So when we look back in 10 years over this golden era of supporting Fulham Football club, it will probably be Dempsey, not Davies, who will have made the biggest impact and biggest impression. But to forget the contributions of this Welsh wizard would be a great shame, so please, everyone raise your glasses to Simon Davies, a great player and a perfect gentleman. He couldn’t be a better fit for this club.