Paul Davis. Wonderful wonderful player, talented coach, and one incident

On June 18th 1979 Paul Davis signed professional forms for Arsenal.

Paul Davis was born in Dulwich on 9 December 1961, signed by Arsenal in 1977, and played for the first team for the first time against Tottenham on April 7 1980 at Tottenham.  We won 2-1.

The cause of his sudden insertion into the side was the absence of Graham Rix.  The following season he made nine league appearances, before in 1981/2 he became an automatic selection.

Paul was born on 9 December 1961 and as he made it into the Arsenal side he also made it to the England Under 21 side.  He won the League Cup in 1987 beating Liverpool (that was the “Liverpool never lose when Rush scores” – game) and George Graham’s two titles in 1989 and 1991.

In 1988 Paul Davis was banned for nine matches for punching Glenn Cockerill of Southampton.  Interestingly there are various dates (and indeed two locations) given on different sites for this match.  I thought I remembered it as being at Highbury, but I have seen it listed as being at the Dell (indeed one site has a full report of the atmosphere at the Dell for the game) and on April 9 1988.   I am sure that can’t be right, because I clearly remember being at that match and remember Paul Davis scoring.  So I think it must have been the start of the 1988/9 season, at Highbury (for the reasons given below).

What was also interesting was that as the officials missed the game the FA for the first time (I think) turned to ITN and the BBC news cameras for film evidence.   Spotting some free publicity the TV stations agreed and ran their shots time and time again, which is what got Paul banned for so long.  Had the ref seen it and just sent him off, it would have been a much shorter ban.

George Graham immediately banned both broadcaster’s news cameras from the stadium.  Again, I don’t know exactly how long this ban stayed in place.

Anyway, in 1993 he played in both the FA Cup and League Cup finals, and so is one of only a handful of players to win a domestic Cup Double. He also won the Cup Winners Cup in 1994.

Between 1988 and 1990 he fell out of favour, only playing 19 league games in those two seasons, but returned in style with 36 league games and 3 goals in 1990/91.    All told he played 447 times for Arsenal and scored 37 goals.

Paul left Arsenal in 1995 and had an unsuccessful spell in Norway before making a final bow with five appearances for Brentford, retiring in 1995.   The following season he joined Arsenal as a youth coach and stayed in that position until 2003 when he joined the PFA’s coaching team.

Amazingly he came by one of my local clubs (Kettering Town) when it was managed very briefly by Paul Gascoigne in October 2005, but when Gascoigne was sacked after a couple of months Paul left and returned to the Professional Footballer’s Association where he is a senior coach.   He has FA and Pro UEFA Coaching badges, a UEFA ‘A’ Licence and the FA Diploma in Football Management from the University of Warwick.  He has also worked regularly in anti-racism campaigns.


The Managers index has been updated with new charts and analyses.

Don Howe at Arsenal

The last time Arsenal were bottom of the league

Arsenal’s Anniversaries – the selling of Andy Ducat

13 Replies to “Paul Davis. Wonderful wonderful player, talented coach, and one incident”

  1. Paul Davis was a hero of mine during his time at Highbury. I recall the many repeats of the Cockerill incident. Knowing Paul, the Southampton creep must have provoked him no end in order to reap the welldeserved response.
    Any guy who gets coached by Paul is lucky indeed.

  2. The Cockerill story is started at the Dell, and finished at Highbury.

    Glenn Cockerill was abusing Davis at the Dell, and carried on at Highbury. no need to use your imagination what the nature of the abuse was.

    The left arm Davis gave Cockerill at our place was worthy of any prize fight. the tough man went down like the preverbial sack of spuds.

    Davis did later in his career upset George Graham, not liking the way we played. After a period in the reserves it was the returning of Davis to the side that beat Parma that provided GG with one of his finest hours, and my fondest memory of a week away.

    Davis was classy, cultured,intelligent and sophisticated as a player, but he could also look after himself, similar to him today would be Arteta. The fact that Davis never had 50 England caps always confused me. Davis and Robson for England would have been sensational

  3. There used to be a great interview with Paul Davis on the AFC website some years ago where he talked about the racist abuse that was meted out at Chelsea, West Ham and Millwall. He said that he never ever heard anything of that nature at Arsenal – something of which I will always be proud.
    An excellent player and human being.

  4. Laundryender – thanks for that – and in general I am so glad to see a positive feeling about Paul – I really do share that myself. Not every player that I write about in this meandering history is one that I remember with affection, but Paul I certainly do remember fondly.

    But doubly thank you for sorting out the issue of where and when. There are a couple of sites that suggest the actual blow was struck at the Dell, but I remember that 4-2 defeat very well, because of the presence of Shearer who scored 3 on his full debut. That match made him the youngest player to score a hat-trick in the first.

    The second match – the one at Highbury – I was also at, and this is why I got confused. Paul was not sent off, so the memory is a little shaky (one tends to remember the sending offs) but it was the revelation later of the punch on the TV news that rings true, and my saying “well I never saw it” as if that made any difference.

  5. @Indersight

    I used to go to Arsenal Games with a West Indian guy called Winston, he was a Barworker in a hotel in the West End. I was a young Chef, when i first met Winston, I asked him why he supported Arsenal, he replied, “it was because Highbury was the only stadium he was not the subject of racist abuse”. We, I believe have always had that bit of class.

  6. Ahh, the Davis / Cockerill incident, if my hazy memory serves my right ! ITN news showed the incident, a FA Councillor saw it and brought it to the FA’s attention, lo and behold they could then use the footage as evidence against Davis, his defence was based around the fact that it was in retailiation of Cokerill stamping on Micky Thomas moments before, this was also caught on camera, however video evidence was not allowed, so as far as the FA were concerned it was an unprovoked attack !!

  7. Thanks a lot-tle for this tribute to Paul Davis. Paul made me an Arsenal supportter. I recollect somewhere around finsbury park…

    I was with my young cousin and his friends. All of them, except for one odd guy who supported The Cockrell Club, were Liverpool supporters. At the time, I lived close to the West Ham stadium and went a few times to watch them, though I did not support them. So these Liverpool supporters were doing their best to persuade me to support their team. Suddenly, two boys came out of a shop with a football. One kick the ball straight at a small playing area. This guy, who was speaking to a another guy, turned round, scoopped the ball and started joggling for what must have felt like eternity. He dribbled the boys almost to a stand-still. He then signed the ball and gave it back to them. The boys put the ball back in their bags for fear of wiping off the signature and ran off, happy as Larry.

    I remarked that I had seen him somewhere before and was reminded that He played for Arsenal. My cousin then made the mistake of putting Arsenal down. I looked at him and walked straight to paul greeted him, shook his hand, told him that from that moment on I had become an Arsenal “Player” (of course I meant supporter, and I think he knew that). He smiled and remarked, “That is very very nice to hear. I look forward to seeing you at the game on saturday.” I went to the game, saw him, though he didn’t play that day. He didn’t see me either; he couldn’t.

    Thanks for reminding me Tony. As for the Cockerill affair, best not to even think about it and the FA/ITN idts…

  8. Paul Davis, a class player. Just a side note. Cockerill needed treatment and because of that there was 9mins injury time. Ironically we scored the equalising goal in the last minute.

  9. Paul Davis was a great player, an Arsenal legend. If I remember rightly , he broke Cockerill’s jaw with a punch Tyson would have been proud of. For a quiet man such as Paul to do this is way out of charachter I can only assume that Cockerill was spouting racist crap at him and deserved a good left hook.

  10. The back story to the punch was that Cockrill was spouting things about Davi’ mother. Davis understandly being the inspirational human being taht he is took deep offense to the insult against his mother and solved Cockrill over active mouth for him.

  11. @LRV With the bad attitude of some players that hit the lewspapers (Intended spelling)Its always good to read of experiences like yours. I am glad you spoke to Paul and expressed your appreciation of what you saw.

    Paul was a fine player. I think because he didn’t ‘play to the crowd’ or hit the headlines for bad behaviour, much overlooked and undervalued.

  12. Yes–it happened at Highbury, 17 September 1988 when Southampton came in top of the table. I was watching–it was my first Arsenal match–as a visiting student from the US that autumn. I saw Cockerill fall to the ground (during a stoppage of play, I believe) but didn’t see the punch. Those around me in the stands had no idea what had happened as our attention was focused elsewhere.

    Great season, that one. The other Highbury match I attended was 4 December versus Liverpool (whom the Gunners edged for the title). That match also featured a very late equaliser for the home side.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *