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Pat “Thunder” Davies
Born: c.1955, Netley
Debut: Scotland (A) 18 November 1972
Occupation: Valuations clerk (1972)
A deadly striker whose aerial prowess belied her lack of inches, Davies burst on the scene in a flurry of goals for England and the great Southampton WFC team of the era. In pre–National League days the WFA Cup was the only show in town – Davies’s Southampton side made it their personal property with six wins from the first eight tournaments.
Wendy Owen (2005) described Davies simply as “a centre–forward with a clinical finish.” While Saints team mate Sue Lopez (1996) hailed 5ft Davies’s “incredible ability to jump higher than players much taller than herself and superbly head the ball once she reached it”.
Pat Davies from Netley in leafy Hampshire was a sporty kid who first played football as a 5-year-old.
She got her start in organised football with Patstone United, when teams started springing up in the Southampton region following England men’s 1966 World Cup win.
Patstone’s gaffer Dave Case was an ace talent-spotter who drafted in outstanding winger Lynda Hale as well as Davies.
Case played for Hampshire League minnows Scholing FC and the peevish Local FA threatened to kick him out of football unless he gave up coaching the women.
Thumbing his nose at those pitiable little men, Case stayed involved. He was part of the League’s management committee who put together a League select team, which became the famous Southampton WFC.
On 7 October 1967 Davies played her first game for Southampton, a 9–0 win over Ipswich at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Netley.
Southampton carried off the first ever Women’s FA Cup in 1971, then known as the Mitre Trophy. Davies rattled in a hat-trick in the 4–1 final win against shell-shocked Scots Stewarton Thistle at Crystal Palace.
The WFA later fined Saints the princely sum of £20 for masquerading as a club team (they remained a league select XI) but let them keep the Cup.
In 1972, 17-year-old hitkid Davies made it through the trials into Eric Worthington’s first ever England squad. That November she led the line in England’s first ever official match, a 3–2 win over Scotland at a snowy Ravenscraig Park in Greenock.
Wendy Owen (2005) recalled that Davies scored one goal and Sylvia Gore got two. Sue Lopez (1996) wrote that Gore scored one, then Davies scored two.
Owen and Lopez are women’s football doyennes. Their books provide almost all that’s known about the early days. But on the important point of England’s first goalscorers they seem to have it WRONG.
Understandable, as Owen spent the afternoon shivering under a warm blanket on the substitute’s bench.
Lopez wasn’t selected at all — much to her fury — after being crocked while playing against men.
A contemporary WFA programme (for the 1973 Probables v. Possibles trials match) records that wingers Jeannie Allott and Lynda Hale added to Gore’s historic strike.
Even if Davies didn’t score in that first game, her goalscoring instincts would not be contained for long. She netted twice in England’s next match, won 3–0 against France in Brion, to silence a partisan 3,000 crowd. That was in April 1973, and she struck another brace in England’s 8–0 thrashing of Scotland at Nuneaton’s Manor Park that June.
Lopez wrote that prior to the 1973 WFA Cup final, Davies had plundered 44 goals in 16 domestic games that campaign.
England’s 3–0 win over the Netherlands at Groningen’s Stadspark in May 1974 again featured two goals from Davies. A 5–0 win over Wales in March 1974 also had Davies’s name amongst the scorers.
She hit another in November 1974’s 2–0 win over France at Plough Lane, in a team performance which had English sports hacks recalling Stan Cullis’s Wolves side of the 50s.
Oddly, by the time Sweden brought previously unbeaten England down to Earth with a bump in June 1975, Davies seems to have dropped out of the reckoning.
England were already on their third manager after Worthington jumped ship to be Australia’s director of coaching, and Tommy Tranter replaced stand-in boss John Adams.
The annual England team trials tournament remained gruelling and expensive for those taking part. But it provided intense competition for striking places, with the likes of Pat Firth and Elaine “Baddy” Badrock breaking through into the squad.
Whatever the reason, Davies was left out of the squad for the Home Championships and the first tour of Italy, both in 1976.
She stuck at it with Southampton though, and Sue Lopez recalled Davies hitting the extra-time winner in the 2–1 1976 Cup final victory over QPR.
The ITN report attributes the winning goal to left-back Maggie Kirkland, but does not identify the scorer of the first goal.
After a 1–0 defeat in the 1977 final, Davies returned for the 1978 Cup final win, the third in the classic trilogy versus QPR, when Pat Chapman scored a double hat-trick in an 8–2 win.
Davies opened the floodgates by rising to power home Chapman’s pinpoint corner on eight minutes.
Lopez (1996) wrote that a “disenchanted” Davies finally bowed out of football in 1978 to take up other sports.
She was reportedly sick of all the training and travelling for Southampton’s very few competitive games. The sport also remained an organisational shambles operating in a media blackout.