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Thomas “ Legs” Davis

By Owen Roach

Thomas Davis (Legs)

(Thomas at his home in The Bronx, New York)

This is the first time in about five years that I have visited New York City. My memories of this City are littered with good thoughts. Years ago in the early 1990s, I spent many Summers with Reinford Gibbons, alias Kulcha Don, Adrian “Smudge”, Johnson, Polo Johnson, Cullen Bramble and many more of my childhood friends in the Bronx. We were all much younger then, and much fun, we had. As an elder, James “ Dah- Rocky” Lee, always provided useful guidance.

(Top Photo. Montserrat cricket team in Nevis in 1952. Bottom row sitting - Sylvester Davis, Barley Mason, and Thomas Davis - with bat in hand. Bottom photo - Far bottom right Thomas Davis . Other players in that photo are: - standing from left - Sylvester Davis, Don Edwards, Syers, George Edwards, Robert Semper, Son Harris, and Theodore Bramble- Standing. George Edwards has the white scarf on his neck. He is fourth from the left at the top.).*

(Top Photo. Montserrat cricket team in Nevis in 1952. Bottom row sitting – Sylvester Davis, Barley Mason, and Thomas Davis – with bat in hand.
Bottom photo – Far bottom right Thomas Davis . Other players in that photo are: – standing from left – Sylvester Davis, Don Edwards, Syers, George Edwards, Robert Semper, Son Harris, and Theodore Bramble- Standing. George Edwards has the white scarf on his neck. He is fourth from the left at the top.).*

BR speaks with Davis DSC_5361(2)

(B Roach speaking with ‘Legs’ Davis on June 25 at Melford’s Memorial service in New York.)

Most of my family lives in this huge cosmopolitan City, so it is unusual that my hiatus was for such a long duration.

On Sunday of last week, as I travelled on the uptown train from Manhattan, I thought of my brother Melford Roach, who recently died. It was his memory that has brought me back to this City, as a memorial was held in his honour on 25th June, 2016 at Vyse Avenue in the Bronx. Mel, as he was affectionately known, loved cricket, and as expected several past cricketers attended his memorial. Amongst them was my former Ghetto Stars cricket mate, Cecil “ Joe Fatty” Farrell, forever a proud Montserratian.

I was introduced to Thomas Davis, and right away I recognized his name, as his name has always been synonymous with cricket in Montserrat. I thought that it would be good to record his story for posterity, as in Montserrat, the contributions of its sons and daughters seems to have faded into oblivion or are simply nonexistent. It is not the first or last time, that I would echo these sentiments.

Thomas Davis is one of Montserrat’s most prominent cricketers. He was born in George Street, to Samuel Davis and Alice Tuitt in 1928. His nickname, “Legs” was given to him by his cousin Ruby Chambers. Ruby once told Thomas during their childhood playing days, that “legs on duty stand up on duty”. He attended the Kinsale Primary School. His two favourite teachers were Ms Dunbar, an Antiguan who lived in Montserrat, and Ms Vivian Allen from St John’s. The then young Thomas Davis journeyed to school on foot daily. Such was the mode of transportation in those days.

As I sat and spoke to him at his home in the Bronx where he has lived since 1959, he fondly remembers playing for the Spitfire Cricket Team in the 1940s. Spitfire Cricket Team then was the team of the working class. That team featured the likes of my father Tommy Roach, Daniel Roach, Barley Mason, Robert Semper, and Gee Dyer, all deceased.

Young Davis played as an opening batsman, and excelled against the other teams that were part of the cricket league in Montserrat at the time. Some of those teams were the Union Cricket team that comprised of players from the then Montserrat Secondary School. Some of the players who represented this club were Reginald Clarke and James Osborne. In later years Reginald Clarke would open the batting for Montserrat with Thomas Davis. There were also other teams like Rivals, who boasted in their ranks the likes of Peter Collins, Rolley Riley, Simeon James and John Barzey.

The Corkhill Cricket Team featured Teacher George Edwards, Peter Cabey, and Fred Barzey. The Montserrat Defence Force Team one of the more opulent clubs of the time, featured Theodore Bramble, Hubert Mason, and Michael Dyer.

It was a century in a trial match at Sturge Park in the late 1940s that brought Davis to the attention of the Montserrat Cricket Selectors. Davis, who was predominantly an offside player, had no structural weakness in his cover drive. He recalls that in those days trial matches were played on Wednesday afternoons.

These were the halcyon days of Montserrat cricket. Thomas Davis remembers playing his first match for Montserrat in 1951 in St Kitts. Some of his teammates then were, Sydney Meade, Will Farrell, Simeon James, Barley Mason, Hubert Mason, George Edwards and John Burke, all deceased. The names of which very few Montserratians have ever heard of. Such history should be taught in our schools. For a people without the knowledge of their past, history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.

In 1953, Thomas Davis representing Montserrat in Montserrat, scored a half-century in the first innings against Nevis at Sturge Park. In the second innings, he was again prolific in scoring 60 runs. In that same Tournament, Davis scored 84 in the first innings against St Kitts and a half-century in the second innings against St Kitts. Montserrat won the Leewards Islands Cricket Tournament for the first time. That feat is yet to repeat itself. Thomas Davis is the only surviving member of that team. He is eighty-eight years old. I think that the Government and people of Montserrat should officially recognize this unsung hero, and true son of our soil.

Davis played for Montserrat with distinction between, 1951 to 1956. In 1953, he had the honour of being selected to play in a mixed team in British Guiana. He, along with three others from the Leeward Islands were selected. The others were Austin Eddy of St Kitts, Hubert Anthony of Antigua, and Hobson from Nevis. Such was the high esteem in which Thomas Davis was held as a batsman. In British Guiana, Davis scored 42 runs for Robert Christiani’s team. Jeffrey Stollmeyer, the former West Indies Cricket Captain, captained the other team.

I will divert a little here, for in the times in which Thomas Davis grew up, it was an era that had as its backdrop slavery and intense racism. In those days, we the sons and daughters of the descendants of African slaves were made to feel inferior. This was enforced by law and the power of internal and external forces. We in Montserrat had to, as a matter of necessity, rise in sports, politics, and culture to overcome those darks days of oppression. In particular, to overcome the contempt shown to our so called inferior status. Thomas Davis as a cricketer, was a beacon of hope in those dark days. He shone at times in isolated brilliance.

Diminutive in size, only a careful observer of physique would notice Davis, but in the 1940s and 1950s his mastery as a batsman could not be missed.

Davis worked as a Carpenter at Public Works Department in Montserrat before migrating to the United States to live in 1959. In New York, Davis continued to play cricket and had the distinction of representing the New York Cricket Team in 1970, as a batsman.

Cricket has always been the vehicle that we as the people in the Caribbean used as a tool to propel us forward. In Montserrat, cricket has become a form of national expression. Sports in our small island has been used as a carriage of personal advancement. For sports in general rests on the premise, that all participants are equal and that the same clock times all players. For like the law, sports is supposed to be colour blind.

Thomas Davis is an unsung hero. Montserrat should be proud of his achievements.

The present Government seems to be on the right track in honouring its own. No doubt the Honourable Gregory Willock is a driving force in this regard.

I would hereby submit that Thomas Davis, as the only surviving member of the victorious Montserrat 1953 cricket team, should be honoured and celebrated. My friend Helen Lee, and my cousin James “Capes” Taylor who transported me to meet Thomas Davis where overwhelmed by this touching story. It would be interesting to see what my Atlanta friends think, as Dave Markham is of the view that I should write more.

Perception, I am told, is more real than reality until reality overtakes it. For decades, I had wrongfully thought that myself, the deceased Haycene Ryan, Alford Corriette, and John Mack were the main cricketers to have emerged from George Street. Now, reality has set in.

Davis returned to Montserrat for a brief period in the early 1990s. However, the destructive bolcano destroyed his newly built home in Upper Dagenham. It was a huge financial and spiritual loss. Nature, would deny Thomas Davis the chance to spend more time in his beloved Montserrat.

It was a pleasure to have spent the afternoon with Thomas Davis and his wife Mrs Susan Greer Davis.

Note: Owen Roach is a former Montserrat National Cricketer and Barrister-at-Law in London.

One Response to “Thomas “ Legs” Davis”

  1. Colin Jeffers says:

    I played for the Montserrat cricket winning team in 1953. I am still alive and live in England. I went on to play minor county cricket for Gloucester and the RAF.

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By Owen Roach

Thomas Davis (Legs)

(Thomas at his home in The Bronx, New York)

This is the first time in about five years that I have visited New York City. My memories of this City are littered with good thoughts. Years ago in the early 1990s, I spent many Summers with Reinford Gibbons, alias Kulcha Don, Adrian “Smudge”, Johnson, Polo Johnson, Cullen Bramble and many more of my childhood friends in the Bronx. We were all much younger then, and much fun, we had. As an elder, James “ Dah- Rocky” Lee, always provided useful guidance.

Insert Ads Here
(Top Photo. Montserrat cricket team in Nevis in 1952. Bottom row sitting - Sylvester Davis, Barley Mason, and Thomas Davis - with bat in hand. Bottom photo - Far bottom right Thomas Davis . Other players in that photo are: - standing from left - Sylvester Davis, Don Edwards, Syers, George Edwards, Robert Semper, Son Harris, and Theodore Bramble- Standing. George Edwards has the white scarf on his neck. He is fourth from the left at the top.).*

(Top Photo. Montserrat cricket team in Nevis in 1952. Bottom row sitting – Sylvester Davis, Barley Mason, and Thomas Davis – with bat in hand.
Bottom photo – Far bottom right Thomas Davis . Other players in that photo are: – standing from left – Sylvester Davis, Don Edwards, Syers, George Edwards, Robert Semper, Son Harris, and Theodore Bramble- Standing. George Edwards has the white scarf on his neck. He is fourth from the left at the top.).*

BR speaks with Davis DSC_5361(2)

(B Roach speaking with ‘Legs’ Davis on June 25 at Melford’s Memorial service in New York.)

Most of my family lives in this huge cosmopolitan City, so it is unusual that my hiatus was for such a long duration.

On Sunday of last week, as I travelled on the uptown train from Manhattan, I thought of my brother Melford Roach, who recently died. It was his memory that has brought me back to this City, as a memorial was held in his honour on 25th June, 2016 at Vyse Avenue in the Bronx. Mel, as he was affectionately known, loved cricket, and as expected several past cricketers attended his memorial. Amongst them was my former Ghetto Stars cricket mate, Cecil “ Joe Fatty” Farrell, forever a proud Montserratian.

I was introduced to Thomas Davis, and right away I recognized his name, as his name has always been synonymous with cricket in Montserrat. I thought that it would be good to record his story for posterity, as in Montserrat, the contributions of its sons and daughters seems to have faded into oblivion or are simply nonexistent. It is not the first or last time, that I would echo these sentiments.

Thomas Davis is one of Montserrat’s most prominent cricketers. He was born in George Street, to Samuel Davis and Alice Tuitt in 1928. His nickname, “Legs” was given to him by his cousin Ruby Chambers. Ruby once told Thomas during their childhood playing days, that “legs on duty stand up on duty”. He attended the Kinsale Primary School. His two favourite teachers were Ms Dunbar, an Antiguan who lived in Montserrat, and Ms Vivian Allen from St John’s. The then young Thomas Davis journeyed to school on foot daily. Such was the mode of transportation in those days.

As I sat and spoke to him at his home in the Bronx where he has lived since 1959, he fondly remembers playing for the Spitfire Cricket Team in the 1940s. Spitfire Cricket Team then was the team of the working class. That team featured the likes of my father Tommy Roach, Daniel Roach, Barley Mason, Robert Semper, and Gee Dyer, all deceased.

Young Davis played as an opening batsman, and excelled against the other teams that were part of the cricket league in Montserrat at the time. Some of those teams were the Union Cricket team that comprised of players from the then Montserrat Secondary School. Some of the players who represented this club were Reginald Clarke and James Osborne. In later years Reginald Clarke would open the batting for Montserrat with Thomas Davis. There were also other teams like Rivals, who boasted in their ranks the likes of Peter Collins, Rolley Riley, Simeon James and John Barzey.

The Corkhill Cricket Team featured Teacher George Edwards, Peter Cabey, and Fred Barzey. The Montserrat Defence Force Team one of the more opulent clubs of the time, featured Theodore Bramble, Hubert Mason, and Michael Dyer.

It was a century in a trial match at Sturge Park in the late 1940s that brought Davis to the attention of the Montserrat Cricket Selectors. Davis, who was predominantly an offside player, had no structural weakness in his cover drive. He recalls that in those days trial matches were played on Wednesday afternoons.

These were the halcyon days of Montserrat cricket. Thomas Davis remembers playing his first match for Montserrat in 1951 in St Kitts. Some of his teammates then were, Sydney Meade, Will Farrell, Simeon James, Barley Mason, Hubert Mason, George Edwards and John Burke, all deceased. The names of which very few Montserratians have ever heard of. Such history should be taught in our schools. For a people without the knowledge of their past, history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.

In 1953, Thomas Davis representing Montserrat in Montserrat, scored a half-century in the first innings against Nevis at Sturge Park. In the second innings, he was again prolific in scoring 60 runs. In that same Tournament, Davis scored 84 in the first innings against St Kitts and a half-century in the second innings against St Kitts. Montserrat won the Leewards Islands Cricket Tournament for the first time. That feat is yet to repeat itself. Thomas Davis is the only surviving member of that team. He is eighty-eight years old. I think that the Government and people of Montserrat should officially recognize this unsung hero, and true son of our soil.

Davis played for Montserrat with distinction between, 1951 to 1956. In 1953, he had the honour of being selected to play in a mixed team in British Guiana. He, along with three others from the Leeward Islands were selected. The others were Austin Eddy of St Kitts, Hubert Anthony of Antigua, and Hobson from Nevis. Such was the high esteem in which Thomas Davis was held as a batsman. In British Guiana, Davis scored 42 runs for Robert Christiani’s team. Jeffrey Stollmeyer, the former West Indies Cricket Captain, captained the other team.

I will divert a little here, for in the times in which Thomas Davis grew up, it was an era that had as its backdrop slavery and intense racism. In those days, we the sons and daughters of the descendants of African slaves were made to feel inferior. This was enforced by law and the power of internal and external forces. We in Montserrat had to, as a matter of necessity, rise in sports, politics, and culture to overcome those darks days of oppression. In particular, to overcome the contempt shown to our so called inferior status. Thomas Davis as a cricketer, was a beacon of hope in those dark days. He shone at times in isolated brilliance.

Diminutive in size, only a careful observer of physique would notice Davis, but in the 1940s and 1950s his mastery as a batsman could not be missed.

Davis worked as a Carpenter at Public Works Department in Montserrat before migrating to the United States to live in 1959. In New York, Davis continued to play cricket and had the distinction of representing the New York Cricket Team in 1970, as a batsman.

Cricket has always been the vehicle that we as the people in the Caribbean used as a tool to propel us forward. In Montserrat, cricket has become a form of national expression. Sports in our small island has been used as a carriage of personal advancement. For sports in general rests on the premise, that all participants are equal and that the same clock times all players. For like the law, sports is supposed to be colour blind.

Thomas Davis is an unsung hero. Montserrat should be proud of his achievements.

The present Government seems to be on the right track in honouring its own. No doubt the Honourable Gregory Willock is a driving force in this regard.

I would hereby submit that Thomas Davis, as the only surviving member of the victorious Montserrat 1953 cricket team, should be honoured and celebrated. My friend Helen Lee, and my cousin James “Capes” Taylor who transported me to meet Thomas Davis where overwhelmed by this touching story. It would be interesting to see what my Atlanta friends think, as Dave Markham is of the view that I should write more.

Perception, I am told, is more real than reality until reality overtakes it. For decades, I had wrongfully thought that myself, the deceased Haycene Ryan, Alford Corriette, and John Mack were the main cricketers to have emerged from George Street. Now, reality has set in.

Davis returned to Montserrat for a brief period in the early 1990s. However, the destructive bolcano destroyed his newly built home in Upper Dagenham. It was a huge financial and spiritual loss. Nature, would deny Thomas Davis the chance to spend more time in his beloved Montserrat.

It was a pleasure to have spent the afternoon with Thomas Davis and his wife Mrs Susan Greer Davis.

Note: Owen Roach is a former Montserrat National Cricketer and Barrister-at-Law in London.