FOR Welshman Wyn Davies, life has come full circle with a return to a town in Bolton he calls home.
He may have been brought up across the border in Wales and gone on to achieve a career high of winning the Inter Cities Fairs Cup with Newcastle United, but it all started professionally for the striker nicknamed “Wyn the Leap” with Wanderers.
And after those European exploits with the Magpies in 1969, he was back in the North West to settle soon after.
But it could have all been different had a young Davies opted for the other side of the Pennines when choosing his first league club.
He explained: “I was working in the quarries and played first for a village team outside of the quarries. I didn’t play very well at all and went to Llanberis, the quarry village itself and played with them.
“I didn’t want to play for my home town; for some reason I wanted to play against them instead.
“Then, when I was 15, the scouts came and I went to Manchester United and then to Everton before trials with Aston Villa.
“I went back home and to Wrexham and then had a choice between Sheffield Wednesday and Bolton Wanderers.
“I looked at the map and saw Sheffield was an hour further away from my home town, so I came to Bolton.
“Dennis Stevens went to Everton for £25,000 and Bolton bought me from Wrexham for the same figure in 1962 and I loved my time here.
“I played with a good bunch of lads and we still meet up today when we can.”
Maybe Davies was always destined to don the Wanderers shirt after seeing Nat Lofthouse and company as a child in a pre-season friendly in Rhyl and being inspired.
He added: “When I was nine years old, I travelled from Caernarfon to watch a friendly in Rhyl and it was an all-star team against Bolton Wanderers in about 1950.
“I was behind the goal and saw this fella Lofthouse with his back to goal 15 yards out and he kicked an overhead effort onto the bar and I was amazed how he did it – you can imagine the impression that left on a young kid like me who had nothing as a youngster.
“To see someone like that just gave me the feeling that was what I wanted to do, and maybe that was in my mind when I joined Bolton.”
Davies stayed with Wanderers for four years before a move to Newcastle, and three years after that he was celebrating being part of the Fairs Cup win – the last major trophy the St James’ Park side lifted.
Well, celebrating may not be the best way to describe it after a collision in the two-legged final saw Davies break a cheekbone and miss out on a party on the return to the North East.
The former Wales international explained: “The move to Newcastle came about after we played them on Good Friday and I faced big John McGrath who was centre half.
“I was told afterwards that Joe Harvey (Newcastle’s manager) had told John he had to take me out because I was doing so well.
“Soon after they wanted to sign me and I stalled after some of the lads told me to ask for £70 a week and they refused.
“Bolton knew there was a lot of money involved and weren’t best pleased.
“I was in digs in Great Lever and there was a knock on the door; it was a fella from Bolton and I ended up going soon after for something like £50 a week.
“Once I got bedded in it was great up there. The Fairs Cup came around and we had a good squad that went on to win it.
“We beat Feyenoord, Sporting Lisbon, Real Zaragoza and Rangers and went to the final against Ujpest Dozsa and they had five Hungarian internationals in the team.
“We won at home 3-0 and went over and they made it 3-2 on aggregate and we were getting well beat. We came back and went on to beat them 3-2 on their own pitch.
“In the first game I got injured when I jumped into the back of Bobby Moncur and smashed my cheekbone.
“A week after, I played in the second leg and on the plane on the way home, the doctor said I was only allowed one lager to celebrate.
“Thousands met us when we got back and I remember thinking this is going to be a good night, but the doc sent me to the hospital behind the Gallowgate End with my medal and that was my celebration – in hospital.
“Winning that cup was special and it is still remembered up there.
“A group of old fans, calling themselves the Fairs Club, still come down to visit me and have a drink in Bolton – one of them is the dad of Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick.”
After five years in Newcastle, Davies headed back to Lancashire and played for both Manchester clubs. But it was in Bolton where he settled again and still lives today.
He retains the affection from his first time in the town and always knew he would end up back here one day.
Davies added: “When I was here originally, I spent time in digs in Darcy and was courting at the time. I should have married her really, looking back. She was bonnie.
“I still go to see her mum every Christmas and have a cup of tea with her.
“I then went to United and lived in Chorlton for a while. But a good friend of mine helped me look for a house then and I found a nice little terrace I liked in Queensgate.
“I have had a good life in football.People ask if I wish I was playing today but I don’t.
“I’m happy at home with my dog.
“I still get people coming up to me in town.
“People always say hello and it is nice because I love it here.”