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Back In The Day: Scott Davies

Davies’ footballing career was derailed by gambling, but he now helps players and staff across the Football League from going down the same path.

Soccer - Pre Season Friendly - Reading v Chelsea - Madejski Stadium Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images

This instalment of Back In The Day is vital in today’s current climate; all the more relevant with betting rife in football and all the more prominent as an ex-Reading player is now educating players on the dangers of gambling: the one and only Scott Davies.

Back In The Day was intended for players that are a very intriguing answer to the question of where are they now? With only four appearances for the club at senior level between 2006 and 2011, yet rising up through the academy from 2002, it’s an even more intriguing feature. The prominence of this story is pivotal in the sense that Scott’s story of addiction and recovery starts with his time at Reading and has led to where he is now: making a difference to teach from his mistakes.

“Gambling just under £10,000 in an hour and a half”

It was 2010 and, for Scott, it felt like his Reading career was coming to an end - he knew another opportunity was needed to make something of himself and career. Just as he was hoping for a move, Scott soon found out there was talk about a loan move to Leeds United. However, after what seemed like positive news in his career and telling many people about this exciting possibility, Leeds ended up signing Adam Clayton on loan instead.

“When I heard they signed him instead of me I ended up gambling just under £10,000 in an hour and a half. It was my escapism which at the time I thought was beneficial to me which I didn’t realise at the end would turn out to be complete misery. I ended up gambling away the deposit to my house and that amounted to £30,000. I gambled that in just under two and a half weeks.”

Scott revealed about a dark time in his life, the very thing he questioned at the time. His parents lent him money, anywhere between £50,000-60,000, But the most honest of his reflections was admitting that, when his addiction was so bad, “there were nights where I slept in my car having not been able to afford to drive home from training”.

Soccer - Pre Season Friendly - Reading v Chelsea - Madejski Stadium
Davies celebrates scoring in pre-season against Chelsea
Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images

After a fortunate cashfall when signing for Oxford United, it allowed him to pay for his mortgage, and he later received a lump sum for leaving Crawley six months earlier than his contract was due to expire. Davies then recounted a rather life-altering moment when betting got so intense and in the way of life: “I crashed my car while watching horse racing, bringing other peoples’ lives into danger… and I pretty much cried myself to sleep the night I did that, thinking I want to stop but I don’t know how.” He admits that was his rock bottom and seemingly the final straw before seeking the help he needed to help with the gambling.

“I fell out of the professional game, playing for Dunstable in the Southern Premier League was where I finally went to rehab to try and make amends and correct the way I was acting because I wasn’t doing anybody any favours, especially myself.” It was 2015 when he checked himself into a clinic called Sport In Chance, that was set up by Tony Adams, where he spent 26 days. It’s now four and a half years since his last bet.

Where is he now?

Davies now works for a company called Epic Risk Management, working in affiliation with the EFL and SkyBet. His role is to educate players and staff and visit 72 clubs a season, primarily focusing on the under-23s and staff on how gambling can affect their lives. He encourages anyone to speak out and ask for help, using his own experiences to help those in the same potential danger. Those that do reach out can speak to or get referred to the same rehab clinic.

Talking about his new-found profession, he said: “It’s something that I care about passionately, and a job that I feel very fortunate to be able to do. I still play now, at Conference South for Slough Town, which is the highest level I can play at being part-time; it suits me perfectly.” He goes onto mention his sobriety, explaining: “It’s something that I’m very appreciative of and I felt like I could never have dreamed or feel the way I do now, so content after feeling so low.”

Eamonn Dolan as Academy Manager and time at Reading

Given his amount of appearances at the club, he could easily look back at his time at Reading with a certain degree of anger, having not been given enough chances, but in actuality he acknowledges: “I do feel as though I wasted an opportunity that was given to me by Brendan Rodgers.”

This outlook on his career with the Royals stems from the academy. “I look at the year below me, I look at players like Jem Karacan, Simon Church, Hal Robson-Kanu, James Henry and Gylfi Sigurðsson and I look at players like that, they were so applied to the game they used to do so much extra compared to what I did, and they fully deserved to go on and have the careers that they have.”

Eamonn: “You’re the most difficult player I’ve ever had to manage”

He fondly remembers his time under Eamonn Dolan as Academy Manager, detailing the times Eamonn used to try and get him to knuckle down and be serious with his football. “Eamonn actually said to me, ‘you’re the most difficult player I’ve ever had to manage. You’re so giddy it’s unbelievable’, because God bless him, ‘the ability is there and that’s not in question’ but my application and my attitude were never present.”

Scott was eager to get back out to matches on a Saturday: “To play in front of a crowd and three points meant a lot more than a reserve game, that’s why I ended up being out on loan so often.” With a long list of clubs to that end, it’s no surprise to hear that he felt he didn’t fit in too much when returning from a two-year stint at Aldershot Town, for instance. “It was very, very difficult, I enjoyed it whilst I was playing but a lot of the time I couldn’t wait to get back out on loan.”

Soccer - FA Cup - First Round - Maidenhead United v Aldershot Town - York Road
Davies in action for Aldershot against Maidenhead United
Photo by Nigel French - PA Images via Getty Images

“When he said it to me I kind of wanted to cry”

Scott recalls a time when he bumped into a Reading fan not too long ago, who asked him: “Us as fans, we all had high hopes for you, where did it all go wrong?” The potential and the answer clearly meant a lot as Davies explained: “At the time it was one of those where when he said it to me I kind of wanted to cry.

“But for me, it was when gambling gets involved in any sort of relationship with work, whether it be a footballer or a banker, a builder, it takes over your life. To stay professional as long as I did it was almost a miracle because I never really did what a professional player should do, which is apply yourself fully and in the end I got my comeuppance, which I fully deserved.”

Now however, Scott has found a happy medium and the good balance in life, “like everything has seemingly fallen into place.” It shows too. Scott’s role in Epic Risk Management means he’s open about his experiences with gambling when visiting clubs up and down the country, and it comes across in his delivery of answers with total honesty in the bid to help others who are suffering in the hope to prevent it as well.

There are numerous websites to visit and numbers to call if you or someone you know has a gambling problem. Please refer to the links below for help: