A late convert to football, William David Davies, better known as Dai to Swansea City fans, played rugby at his school, Amman Valley Grammar School.
Dai was born in Glanamman in the Amman valley on 1 April 1948, and followed in the footballing footsteps of his father, who had trials with both Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sheffield United.
During the time Dai played for Ammanford Town under former Swans player Roy Saunders, he made one appearance for Swansea Senior League side St. Josephs in an end of season relegation battle against Port Tennant Stars. It was Saunders who recommended Dai to the Swans manager Roy Bentley.
After leaving school Dai went to Cardiff College of Education to qualify as a PE teacher, during which time he picked up a Wales Amateur Cup Winners medal in 1969 with the college team.
He returned to Swansea in July 1969 and signed professional forms before going on to make his debut on the last game of the 1969/790 season when the Swans played the champions Chesterfield away, with promotion already assured for the Swans.
Making a further eight appearances the following season, just before Christmas time he was transferred to First Division side Everton for a £20,000 fee. Prior to be transferred, he represented Wales at U-23 level against England at Wrexham.
A further £15,000 came the Swans way after he had completed thirty league appearances. Finding himself understudy to both Andy Rankin and Gordon West, he made his Everton debut in a 2-1 loss to Newcastle United.
After another league outing he spent almost three years in the reserves, returning to the Vetch Field for a loan spell under Harry Greg. Season 1974/75 saw him established at Goodison Park as first choice keeper for Everton.
Regular First Division appearances also saw him given his first full cap for Wales, in Budapest against Hungary on the 16th April 1975.
Following the signing of George Wood by Everton, Dai was allowed to join Wrexham in September 1977, and by the end of his first season at the Racecourse had helped his club to win the Third Division Championship, and also beat Bangor City in the Final of the Welsh Cup.
Signed by his international team mate Arfon Griffiths, Dai developed into a commanding keeper, with superb organizational skills at club, and at international level.
Following the Swans Promotion to the first division, he returned to the Vetch Field in July 1981 for a tribunal fixed transfer fee of £45,000.
His return to the Vetch Field was not taken kindly by many supporters who felt that Dave Stewart, who had played a large part in the club’s promotion should have been given his opportunity in the First Division.
Some Swansea fans referred to him as ‘Dai the Drop’, due to his apparent tendency to drop a clanger.
Nevertheless, Dai overcame the sceptical supporters to play his part in a tremendous season for the Swans in the First Division, and also win his second Welsh Cup Medal, when the Swans beat Cardiff City.
Before the end of his second season at the Vetch Field, with financial problems off the pitch mounting, he was allowed to leave on a free transfer, joining Tranmere Rovers in June 1983.
During his three stints at the Vetch Field between 1969-1970, 1974 (loan) and 1981-1983, Dai made 113 appearances for the Swans.
Missing just four league games at Prenton Park, Dai retired from the game at the end of season 1983/84, to start a Welsh Book and Craft Shop in Mold.
Answering an SOS to assist Bangor City in the club’s European Cup Winners Cup games with Atletico Madrid, it was not long after that Wrexham manager Dixie McNeill asked him to appear for Wrexham in Welsh Cup matches, and at the end of the season Dai had claimed his third Welsh Cup Winners Medal.
His final season for Wrexham saw him utilised as a substitute keeper for Wrexham in European games, also playing one game in the Welsh Cup.
A proud Welsh-speaking Welshman he was the recipient of a rare honour in August 1978 when he became the first Welsh Footballer to be admitted to the Gorsedd Circle of Bards at the National Eisteddfod in Cardiff.
His autobiography was published first in Welsh, where it bore the title ‘Hanner Cystal a’ Nhad’ (‘Half the Man my Father Was’) in tribute to his father. It was later published in an English translation in 1986, by when its title had become ‘Never Say Dai‘.
In November 2008, he sold more than 30 items at Bonhams auctioneers in Chester, with the highest-priced item – a 1980-81 full Welsh international cap – fetching £1,200 after saying he wanted to “de-clutter” his life.
He works frequently for BBC Wales and Radio Cymru as well as appearing as a Welsh speaking football pundit on S4C. His views are always interesting to listen to and he is not afraid of voicing his opinion on football topics.
A qualified teacher, he has often done supply work, but now runs a natural healing centre in Llangollen, North Wales, specialising in herbal remedies, remedial massage, muscle work, pilates and reiki.
In August 2020, the vastly experienced Davies was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and was treated at the Royal Hospital in Liverpool before being moved to the Nightingale Hospice in Wrexham.
Sadly in February 2021, the popular goalkeeper lost his battle with the illness aged 72.
Rest in peace Dai.
The ‘Swansea Town/City Players A-Y’ book written by Colin Jones was an excellent reference guide for the information contained on this page. The information was reproduced with the kind permission of Colin.