It’s been 30 years since Roger Davies last played for the Seattle Sounders in the North American Soccer League, setting the league on fire with his goal-scoring prowess.
And while the city he left behind after his final season with Seattle in 1982 may have changed, one thing that didn’t was the rampant fan support for the Sounders.
On Wednesday night when the Sounders FC meets Chelsea at CenturyLink Field, Davies will get a first-hand look at the support that he’s seen so much on television and read so much about when he is given the Golden Scarf, paying tribute to one of the legends of the club.
“I’m quite looking forward to seeing the fans behind the goal with the noise they make and the flags they’ve got,” Davies said. “They really seem to have taken the English style of supporting.”
Davies came to the Sounders along with Alan Hinton in 1980 when Hinton was named coach of the team after one season with the Tulsa Roughnecks. The former Derby County standout made waves in his first season, scoring 25 goals in 29 matches to earn league MVP honors while the Sounders went 25-7, but lost in the Conference finals to the LA Aztecs.
He would help the Sounders surpass that outcome in 1982 when they reached Soccer Bowl, only to fall 1-0 to the New York Cosmos. For all of his individual and team successes, that still 30 years later stands out in his mind because of the tremendous fan support the team got.
“The biggest shame was that we didn’t deliver and win the trophy. And the fans had the same expectation that we did – to win,” he said, before smiling to add a positive memory. “To be fair, we didn’t let them down in the Kingdome very often.”
The Kingdome may be gone, but nearly everywhere else he looked when he walked around downtown Seattle and drove around Bellevue had seen plenty of expansion since he was traded to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers after the 1982 season.
“I’ve seen lots of places I can remember and lots of places that I can’t remember because they weren’t here. The skyline has grown. Bellevue, where I used to live, has grown unbelievably,” said Davies, now 61 and working in broadcasting for Derby County. “It’s great to get back. I loved the city and everything about it.”
Through his lengthy connections to the organization, which include his former colleague and current Sounders FC play-by-play voice Ross Fletcher, he has heard plenty of tales of the incredible support that the community has given the club, including the record-setting attendance figures, reminiscent, he says, of the fanbase of the first edition of the Sounders.
“It’s incredible, their fanbase. The support is just incredible,” he said. “We had great crowds and the fans were tremendous to us. They really took the whole team to their hearts.”
On Wednesday, he will see just how loud that crowd can get when he raises the Golden Scarf before the match, an award that he is very excited to have bestowed upon him, capping off a memorable return to the city he grew to love in his three years with the Sounders.
“It’s been fantastic over the last couple days I’ve been here. This award is a real honor to take,” Davies said.
Kickoff for the match is scheduled for 6:30pm Pacific Time with television coverage on ESPN2. Tickets are still available at Ticketmaster.com.