Back in action
Davis rejoins Cleeve after four-year hiatus
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.