A footballing memoir from Chris
Wed 20th March 2019 | General | By Ian Templeman
Former Cheadle Town Chairman Chris Davies has written a book, featuring stories of the overseas tours that the club undertook during his time at the helm.
Chris’s book, which is entitled “The World Was My Oyster”, takes a chronological look at the tours he organised, and tells some fascinating tales of the experiences along the way.
Among his various travelling companions down the years was broadcaster, author and former footballer Fred Eyre, who Chris credits with giving him the idea of writing the book, when the two were sharing a tent together in a safari park in East Africa.
The introduction to the book describes it as “a story of ambition and a realisation that dreams can come true with dedication and hard work”.
Chris formed the club now known as Cheadle Town under the name of Grasmere Rovers in 1961, and remained at the club continuously until 2017.
During his time in charge, he arranged numerous overseas tours that were undertaken in the close season, which saw them play 96 matches in 30 different countries, including games in the Giants Stadium in New York and the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.
Along the way, they met various well known names, including Alfredo di Stefano, Jairzinho, Sir Bobby Charlton, Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, and even Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs during a trip to Rio de Janeiro.
Chris organised every tour, and the book explains in detail the way in which a club from humble beginnings in the Burnage area of Manchester became footballing ambassadors around the globe.
There are many incredible, not to mention at times alarming, tales told which include escaping a coup in Kenya, and getting caught up in a sandstorm in New Delhi.
In addition, Chris tells of some hairy encounters with locals and agents trying to take advantage of him and the travelling party.
On one occasion in Lloret de Mar in Spain, Chris agreed that the team would play some games under the name of Manchester AFC to make the name a bit more recognisable.
The team arrived to find posters all over the resort advertising a challenge match with “Manchester United”, which led to Chris having to make various threats to the local officials before the posters were replaced with the correct name.
Well-known names are, however, legitimately dropped into a variety of stories, and various encounters with Sir Bobby Charlton are touched upon, although one of the more impressive tales involves the Brazilian World Cup star of the 1970s, Jairzinho.
When Cheadle Town travelled over to Rio in the 80s, Chris contacted the Brazilian FA for assistance when they arrived, and was shocked to find that they offered Jairzinho as the tour guide. The association led to Chris inviting him over to England the following year, where Jairzinho hosted a soccer school at Park Road and played in a charity game.
The club’s time in the North West Counties League is also touched upon in the book, with Chris admitting that one of his fondest memories was their two games against FC UnIted of Manchester in their first season when they joined our league, in 2005-06.
Cheadle were drawn at home to FC United in the League Cup as well as having to stage a home league fixture, and after playing the cup tie at Curzon Ashton in front of 2,300 spectators, Chris’s contacts at Stockport County meant he arranged for the league game to be staged at Edgeley Park, and a crowd of 3,377 watched a 3-3 draw.
Not surprisingly there were plenty of photo opportunities down the years, and a good selection of photographs accompany the text, which not only include celebrity pictures but also capture moments spent in locations such as the Pyramids in Egypt, the Taj Mahal, the Bridge on the River Kwai and Copacabana Beach.
It’s a story that mixes football, travel and some fascinating life experiences, and will be of interest to many.
“The World Was My Oyster”, a footballing memoir by Chris Davies, is priced at £9.99, and is available online or direct from the author by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The photo below is one from the book, and shows Brazilian World Cup star Jairzinho displaying his skills at the soccer school he held at Park Road.