Back in ac­tion

Davis re­joins Cleeve af­ter four-year hia­tus

Gloucestershire Echo - - FOOTBALL - Jon PALMER gloslives­[email protected]­plc.com

LEE Davis has ended a four year hia­tus to re­turn to foot­ball with home vil­lage club Bishop’s Cleeve.

The for­mer Chel­tenham Town young­ster lost his en­joy­ment for the game at the age of 30 and stopped play­ing al­to­gether.

He feels ready to give it an­other go with Steve Cleal’s Mitres.

Davis said: “I de­cided to re­join the club this year be­cause I feel I’m ready to give it my all again and en­joy play­ing.

“Cleeve is the only club I was ever go­ing to come back and play for and once I knew Steve wanted me I jumped at the chance to join.”

Cleeve were rel­e­gated from the Southern League in 2017/18 and Davis is hop­ing to help them re­turn from the Hel­lenic League Premier Di­vi­sion at the se­cond at­tempt.

“Our aim for the sea­son as a club has to be to get back into the Southern League,” he said.

“They were not far off do­ing that last sea­son and from what I’ve seen so far we have some good young play­ers so hope­fully we can give it a good go.

“Fit­ness lev­els are not great to be hon­est be­cause I haven’t played in a long time, but I’m work­ing on that ev­ery day, so hope­fully come the start of the sea­son I will be up to speed.”

Davis spent six years with the Robins, where his dad Mike en­joyed a suc­cess­ful spell as as­sis­tant man­ager to Steve Cotterill.

Two of those sea­sons were with the se­nior squad, although he did not ap­pear in the Foot­ball League, he made four Con­fer­ence ap­pear­ances dur­ing a spell at For­est Green Rovers in 2004/05.

“When I look back at my foot­ball ca­reer although I prob­a­bly didn’t quite achieve what I wanted, I have been re­ally lucky to play for some great clubs,” he said.

“I started at Chel­tenham in the Un­der-15s up un­til I was 20, train­ing full-time was a dream come true espe

cially for the club I had been watch­ing from a young age.

“I had just un­der two years with the first team which was fan­tas­tic.

“Grant Mccann was the best I ever played or trained with and the best I ever played or trained against was Michael Duff.

“I had a cou­ple of sea­sons at Glouces­ter City which I loved, prob­a­bly my favourite times in non-league foot­ball.

“I had a short spell at For­est Green, which was a great ex­pe­ri­ence get­ting a few ap­pear­ances in the Con­fer­ence.”

Davis has since ap­peared briefly for Cirences­ter Town, Cin­der­ford Town and Eve­sham United, but he has spent most of his ca­reer at Cleeve.

“I thor­oughly en­joyed play­ing un­der Colly (Paul Col­li­cutt) and then Syke­sey (Alex Sykes),” he said.

“I’ve lived in Bishop’s Cleeve all my life so it was nice to play for my lo­cal club with lads I had known for years.

“We had some re­ally good squads over the years do­ing well in the Southern League and also hav­ing a cou­ple of good runs in the FA Cup and Tro­phy.”

Join­ing Lee at Cleeve for 2019/20 is his brother Mikey, who is also com­ing out of ‘re­tire­ment’ to give it an­other go in the Hel­lenic League.

“I am re­ally look­ing for­ward to play­ing along­side Mikey again,” elder sib­ling Lee said.

“I’m just pleased hes de­cided to play again be­cause he has so much talent and qual­ity.

“Hes one of the most tech­ni­cally gifted play­ers I’ve played with and he’s only 30 so has so much more to give.

“He will be a real as­set to Bishop’s Cleeve.”

Goal­keeper Ma­teusz Wiec­zorek has also re­turned to Cleeve af­ter two sea­sons at Cirences­ter Town.

The Polish num­ber one orig­i­nally joined the Mitres from Glouces­ter­shi­ire North­ern Se­nior League club Smiths Ath­letic in the sum­mer of 2015

Cleal said: “I am de­lighted to have Matt back at the club.

“His Southern League ex­pe­ri­ence will be a huge as­set for the lads and he also knows the club, so when he be­came avail­able it was a per­fect fit.”

Cleeve have signed Hart­pury stu­dent Nick Jones, who was with Haver­ford­west last sea­son, to com­pete with Wiec­zorek for the num­ber one jersey.

Cleal has also brought in mid­fielder Ben Sluman, who was a devel­op­ment player at Chel­tenham Town last sea­son.

Courtney Hamil­ton and Luke Payne are also new ar­rivals at Kayte Lane this sum­mer.

Har­ri­son Id­dles and Ja­cob Davidge have both left to join High­worth Town, while Mike Ford has ap­peared for both Slim­bridge and High­worth in pre-sea­son friendlies.

» Mike Rhodes has joined Hel­lenic League Premier Di­vi­sion club Bishop’s Cleeve as player/coach.

The 36-year-old, known as ‘Spike,’ has pre­vi­ously man­aged FC Baro­met­rics in the North­ern Se­nior League and been on the coach­ing staff at Chel­tenham Sara­cens.

He was youth team cap­tain at Chel­tenham Town be­fore play­ing for Cleeve, Malvern Town and Sara­cens.

Rhodes now re­turns to Kayte Lane as part of Cleal’s back­room team.

Cleeve‘s first friendly is at home to For­est Green Rovers un­der-18s on Saturday.

Lee Davis

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