Soldier on Champ ...


You know you're onto something special when you find a player that has played over 300 professional soccer games, its something even more interesting to note when the player has been with that a particular club all of his professional career. Of course, having the dubious honour of scoring only 2 goals during his pro career means little to a player of Mark Davies' calibre - it is the sheer professionalism and bloody mindedness of the player that counts.

Graduating from the amateurism of Escombe F.C to join the ranks of the professionals with Manning Rangers in 1991 Davies has been a pillar of strength in the consistently featuring in the Rangers side since then. Commenting on his slightly built stature he wryly remarks, "looks can be decieving, its not how you look - its how you do it".

It is his incredible work-rate and his desire to lead by example that often belies his actual position in the side. Seen often in the sweeping position, he is actually a man-marker that kills potential threats.

Indeed, what with the Jomo Cosmos fresh from thumping Orlando Pirates at the FNB stadium two months ago and burly striker Nksoninathi Nhleko firing 4 past Williams Okpara, he was probably looking forward to another feast of goals from the Maulers. Instead, he was strangely subdued during the game and never featured. On remarking this to fellow defender Robbie Milne, it was quite apparent to see his admiration for Davies play when he said responded simply, "he was just marked (no pun intended) out of the game by Davies" .. even if one looks at the video of the match, its difficult to pick up Davies' actual work-rate, but the ripple effect that it has on the team is not impossible to see.

A fierce contender, Davies is one that that never gives up - thrown into the thick of things during the closing stages of last season he soldiered on to captain Rangers to a memorable victory at Loftus Versveld. Written off before the game as "average players", he spurred his team-mates on to record an improbable 1-0 victory that almost dented Sundowns title aspirations. Once again, his man marking skills showed up in snuffing out the Daniel Mudau and the Brazilians dangerman.

Coach Gordon Igesund is clearly one of those people that admires Davies endurance. "He is a vital cog in the side, both as the skipper and a player. His worth to the side on unquestionable."

One asking whether the introduction of new faces into the side was a subtle way of easing Davies out of the side brought a soft rebuke from the former Durban City striker. "Why should that be so ? Mark is an integral part of the Rangers side, each player in the squad fights for his place on merit, and he will be a part of the side until he says no more."

Davies himself is a bit touchy on the issue of retirement, and one can see that as long as the burning desire to play the game at the highest level is still there he will be out there trying.

"I feel that I still have a couple of seasons left in me at the moment, and until I feel otherwise I will continue to play for Rangers."

Commenting on his 300th game, that technically was against Classic in the Rothmans Cup Davies tried to trivialise it - "its an honour to play 300 games for a club, but my main aim is to win as many trophies for the club as well". This Sunday against old foes Kaizer Chiefs, he will fittingly be presented with a shirt symbolic of his achievements with Rangers.