South Shields lad's days as a Gunner
When reader George Dixon got in touch to point out that one of the young men pictured in a team-shot of Marsden CW Juniors football team, featured in Time Of Our Lives, was one-time Arsenal player David Jones, I never expected to hear from the ex-Gunner himself.
But Davey, as he is known, did indeed get in touch, and was happy to tell me more about his time at Highbury and his days as a professional footballer.
The former Mortimer Road School pupil tells how in his younger days he was an all-round sportsman, playing football, cricket and swimming for the county.
And like many other lads on South Tyneside, when he left school he went to work at Readhead’s Shipyard as an apprentice electrician.
“In September 1966 a scout for Arsenal, Ernie Boag (the same scout who took George Armstrong to the London club) spotted me.
“I packed up my apprenticeship and spent two years at Arsenal, joining as an apprentice before signing as a professional when I was 17.”
During that time he played for the Gunners’ youth team, linking up-front with two of the game’s legendary players, Charlie George and Ray Kennedy.
He still recalls the “luxury”of the old Highbury Stadium.
“To walk in to the old Highbury changing rooms and the heated floor, the eight showers, five single baths and the big communal bath, it was everything you would want, it was first class.
“You were well looked after, but as an apprentice you still had to clean, polish and change the studs of the first team’s boots.”
Davey said each apprentice looked after the boots of four first team professionals: his quartet being household names from the then Arsenal side, namely Frank McLintock, John Sammels, Peter Storey and John Radcliffe.
“It was an experience you can never take away. As an experience, it was unbelievable.”
But sadly the young talent wasn’t kept on by the Gunners, though he eventually found a home at Oxford, where he played alongside future England manager Ron Atkinson in the 1968-69 season.
During his time at the Manor Ground, Davey played for Oxford 53 times in the old Second Division, before hanging up his professional football boots in 1972 due to the fact that “there was no money in it”.
From there he went on to work for Morris Motors in Oxford and then the Metropolitan Police.
Eventually, though, he headed back north, returning to Shields in 1992, where he continued to enjoy his love of sport.
“Sport has always been a regular part of my life,” said 67-year-old Davey, who still plays cricket for Durham County Council over 60s team.
Indeed, such is his sporting prowess that back in 2014, he was honoured with a national cap when he played for his country in an England over 60s team.
Today, Davey not only enjoys pulling on the whites, he also umpires in the Durham league and is a regular on the golf course.
But despite all of his achievements, Davey has one regret – he never got to play football at Roker Park.
“I had one ambition, to play at Roker Park. Twice when I was playing for Oxford we played there, but on both occasions I was injured and missed both games.”
And finally, what of Arsene Wenger’s reign at his old club?
“He’s done a tremendous job for Arsenal,” added Davey.