On my last visit to Bray Wanderers [for the 3-3 draw with Cobh Ramblers] a few Bray fans I was talking to mentioned that Michael ‘Locker’ Davis was very unwell, and that things didn’t look good. This was a shock, as I had known Locker for decades. Unfortunately an even bigger shock awaited the following week, when news of Locker’s passing was learned.
Locker was a larger-than-life character. Instantly recognisable, and – once you had got to know him – completely unforgettable. He was unique, and for all the right reasons. He was kind, he was friendly, he was funny, and most of all he was an expert at what he did, which was looking after the kit needs of his team.
Locker was around Bray Wanderers for a long, long time, and around the League of Ireland for even longer if you add in his time at Athlone, Drogheda and Cabinteely. It was at Cabinteely that I last saw him and exchanged a few words, sometime last season.
When Bray Wanderers first entered the League of Ireland in 1985 I was still at school. I rarely missed a game over the next six seasons as I finished school and went through college. Pat Devlin was the main man but there were various faces that were in the dugout or around the ground with him, one of whom was Locker. You got the strong impression that these lieutenants were extremely loyal to their general, and that the general was extremely loyal to them.
Locker didn’t change much over the years, in terms of how he looked. One tribute to him that I saw on social media comprised a serious of pictures of him in various sets of Bray tops, arranged in chronological order. The jerseys and training tops changed as we went through seasons of promotion, relegation, FAI Cup wins, glamour friendlies and European adventures. But Locker didn’t change. A rock around whom these adventures were lived out, adventures he helped script.
In the days before I was married and still living in Bray I used to haunt the Carlisle Grounds. I’d go around to watch training or reserve games or even the grass being cut. I’d often see Locker going about his laundry chores. I was known at the time for having a large collection of soccer jerseys from all over the world, and I’ll never forget Locker asking me what way I washed them. When I told him I separated the colours he told me I didn’t need to do that as they were not full of mud from playing, and so didn’t need a hot wash. Wash them at low temperature and all in together. That’s what I’ve done ever since; hours of extra laundry saved thanks to advice from the expert.
When John O’Brien – a former Secretary of Bray Wanderers – passed away some years back, a letter John had written to the League was read out at the funeral by John’s son. The letter illustrated John’s sense of humour. It was about Locker, who had been charged with some touchline misdemeanour or other and John was defending him. The gist of the letter was that whoever had reported Locker didn’t know him like John did. The bad behaviour, whatever it was, had been an aberration, because Locker was a true gentleman. He certainly was, and a true legend too.
Rest in peace, Locker.