Wonder boy Kevin rises to the top

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The 2,475 hardy souls who turned out to watch Chesterfield FC defeat Carlisle in March, 1994, witnessed something rather special – the first senior goal by one Kevin Davies.

He was aged 16 and his right-foot effort, from inside the area at the Saltergate kop end, cheered the sparse crowd.

Steve Norris had scored twice but the teenage wonder boy had demonstrated his potential as a future star by making it 3-0 to the Spireites.

He has since gone on to become a major player at Bolton and it is to Team England’s shame that our Kevin has been picked to play just once for the Three Lions.

Davies went on to find the target another three times in the 1993/94 season and even at that early stage, Chesterfield followers knew the young lad was bound for the big time.

Born in Sheffield, he was on the books at Bramall Lane but the careless Blades let him slip through their fingers.

United’s loss, however, was very much Chesterfield’s gain and Saltergate manager John Duncan gave Davies his chance.

Blessed with great upper body strength, confident in possession and imbued with pure footballing talent, it was a delight to watch Davies flourish and blossom.

The entire football world quickly became aware of his special gifts and it was clear his move to greener pastures would happen sooner rather than later

He played a full part in Chesterfield’s sensational FA Cup run in 1996/97, which included a 3-3 semi-final draw at Old Trafford against Middlesbrough, and Davies was caught in the full beam of the national spotlight when he scored a hat-trick in the 3-2 fourth round victory at Bolton.

By the time he moved on to Southampton in the summer of 1997, Davies had made a total of 159 appearances, scoring 30 goals.

It was a good career move for Davies but a poor deal for the Spireites.

The club received a record fee of £750,000 but chairman Norton Lee failed to negotiated a sell-on clause.

And that was to cost Chesterfield dearly just over a year later.

Davies found it difficult to settle so far away from home and after 30 appearances and 12 goals for the Saints he moved back up north Blackburn Rovers for a cool £7.5m.

Chesterfield missed out on a financial windfall but after one season at Ewood Park he switched back to Southampton for £1.2m.

But again, things did not work out in Hampshire and a brief loan spell at Millwall was the prelude to a transfer in 2003 to Bolton where Davies has become a full-weight Reebok Stadium hero.

Employed as a traditional centre forward, with battering ram-like tendencies, Davies has employed every weapon in his armoury to lead the Trotters line with potency and power.

Before Easter, he had scored 75 goals in 339 starts for Bolton and over the last nine seasons his uncompromising approach has proved a major headache for the Premier League’s best defenders.

Which begs the question as to why the England selectors could not bring themselves to give Davies a start in the national team until he was aged 33.

When you think of some of the ineffective selections fielded by England over the last 15 years, it seems incomprehensible that those in charge of picking the national team did not at least experiment with Davies’s no-nonsense brand of attacking more than once.

Of course, his robust approach attracts a fair number of yellow cards but his one and only run-out came against Montenegro two years ago.

His international ambitions may have come and gone but at the age of 35, the Bolton captain is still among the goals – as his strikes against Tottenham in the FA Cup and in the 3-2 victory over Wolves demonstrated so clearly.

May he long continue!

Welcome to the North Derbyshire Sporting Hall of Fame, Kevin.