Kelvin Davis says there are two defining moments which were pivotal in his progression while playing at Southampton.
Following a disappointing season prior to his arrival on the south coast, Davis was delighted to start afresh at a club building for promotion, but after missing out on that target in the first year, and having a shaky start to the second, matters reached boiling point early on in the 2007/08 campaign.
It arrived in a game at Hillsborough where the previous season Saints had conceded a last minute equaliser to goalkeeper Mark Crossley in a 3-3 draw. This time around, however, it was a different story as Saints shipped four goals in the second half in a 5-0 defeat which led to a confrontation between Davis and the travelling Southampton supporters, which the goalkeeper recalled to youtube.com/southamptonfc:
“The incident at Sheffield Wednesday away was a build up of different circumstances that came to a head and I just felt it was something that snapped in me and thought I’m not putting up with this anymore, so it was a little bit like that,” he remembers.
“What’s interesting was the reaction from the fans. There was a very mixed emotion of some fans who wanted to jump on the pitch and introduce themselves to me personally, while there was also a large group that were also looking at it like it was a bit of passion, maybe not in the right way, but showing that you care, I suppose.
“It was almost from that moment on that my performances went up a level, and I think the fans’ spirit towards me went up a level too, until the end of the season. I can remember one of my first home games here against Stoke and I made two saves from corners. They probably weren’t great saves looking back, but it was the reaction from the fans behind me that gave me the feeling of we were on the right page and I was ready to put in those performances that I knew I was capable of.”
Davis’s personal fortunes improved at a time when the club was starting to struggle on the pitch. The season that Saints went down from the Championship saw Davis collect the team’s Player of the Year award as, without him, relegation would have been confirmed much earlier.
After famously making a U-turn away from a move to West Ham United, Davis helped lead the rebirth of the club under new ownership which has led to seven successive years of improvement, but there’s still one highlight that stands apart from the rest.
“For me the standout with everything that’s gone on throughout those ten years was the day out at Wembley with the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy win which was a convincing win,” he said.
“When you look at the team on show that day for Southampton you could only see one winner looking back now. We went into the game just doing what we do and looking to win a cup.
“That, along with the two promotions and, in particular, the League 1 promotion I think because as much as anything I think that was more of relief than celebration. We generally felt the pressure was there in every game that season and it was a cup final every Saturday and Tuesday.
“That intensity to then finally get across the line was a massive highlight and we just seemed to stay on the crest of that wave all through the Championship and into the Premier League.
“It’s been an amazing journey for me and I’ve met some fantastic people along the way and hope to keep that Southampton way and spirit going in a different role.”