FOR BOBBY Davison, representing the great footballing institution that is Leeds United was worth more than money, literally.
Alongside his predatory prowess in front of goal, the north-easterner was renowned as a true grafter on the pitch, who never slacked in his shift on a Saturday, midweek or on the training ground – and someone he earned every penny whether that be at Leeds, Derby County, Halifax Town or elsewhere.
It is perhaps not surprising given that he did not start life cosseted in some plush footballing academy like the majority of today’s emerging players, but in the shipyards as a welder in the real world.
When he came to Leeds from Derby County to speak about a transfer up the M1 in November 1987, it was not pound notes that was in his mindset, more the sheet thrill of playing for one of the great English clubs.
Davison readily admits he was in awe of former Leeds manager, the late, great Billy Bremner when he spoke to him in his Elland Road office with it being a case of ‘Where do I sign?’ – with not an agent in sight.
In the modern footballing world, that may be considered a touch naive, sadly, but for Davison, it was never about the brass, although a bit more may have been nice.
Davison, who joined Leeds for £350,000 and proved his worth in netting 35 times in 110 matches, said: “Signing for Leeds was a great honour. Although looking back now, I should have taken an agent or representative with me as I wanted to sign so much that I went straight into Billy Bremner’s office and really didn’t discuss much.
“I just shook hands and said: ‘Yes, I want to sign.’ Having heard what other players were getting in terms of packages, I should have wanted a better offer.
“But I just remember thinking: ‘Wow, Billy Bremner is an absolute legend.’ I just signed and never discussed terms. You don’t get that now.
“I didn’t have to leave Derby, but Leeds came calling. I had a chance of going to Watford when Graham Taylor was there, but I turned that down. I also had the chance of going to Germany, but I jumped at the chance with Leeds.”
Davison’s work-rate, allied to some important goals in the late eighties, he was top-scorer with 17 in 1988-89 and followed up with 11 in the Division Two title-winning campaign the following season, made him a favourite during his time at LS11.
In terms of memories, alongside signing for a legend in Bremner, of course, making his debut against Swindon Road at Elland Road on April 21, 1987 was right up there – although he did have to play second fiddle to a fiery Leeds lad also making his bow that day in the shape of David Batty.
Davison, who netted in that 4-2 win against the Robins, added: “I think my proudest memory, playing wise, was making my debut against Swindon on a day when David Batty made his debut as well.
“Putting that white shirt on was fantastic.
“I always also enjoyed it when we went up to Newcastle, Sunderland or Middlesbrough or they came down to Elland Road and I always had a knack of getting goals against teams from the north-east. Those are great memories.
“One of my biggest memories at Leeds is actually sitting in conversation with Gary Speed with his big smile and having a laugh and a joke. It’s little things like that you remember.
“I’d like to think the fans respected me there. I always worked hard as a player and for me, that’s the first thing fans should expect.
“For me, for any player to be released or sold because he doesn’t put the effort in is absolutely scandalous. It’s outrageous, the first thing you do is run your socks off.
“Fans want to see players do that and I was brought up on that. If everyone does that, you have half a chance.”
An unfortunate injury saw Davison drop off the radar somewhat while Howard Wilkinson’s revolution was taking place at Leeds and the net result was that he became a bit-part player at the start of the nineties.
He featured in the Division One title-winning side of 1991-92, but featured just six times, not enough for a winners’ medal ahead of joining Sheffield United on loan.
Davison, now 55, added: “I have great memories of my time at Leeds, although some sad ones, in terms of getting an injury, which didn’t help which kept me out for quite a while.
“I did okay until I got my injury and then it was all change and Howard came in and wanted to take the club to the next level on and off the pitch and some very, very good players got brought in.”