Dave and the Concordes - a band not to remember!
Published on: 05 May 2014
OUR recent story about the possible sell-off of Downend Cricket Club’s home ground has prompted another Downend Voice reader living thousands of miles away to get in touch.
In March we reported how New Zealand resident Patricia Pye keeps her finger on the pulse with what’s going on in her hometown of Downend by reading our website.
Now Dave Britton, who grew up in the area, has told us he’s an avid reader – despite now living in South Africa.
Dave, 70, found out about Downend Voice after a friend emailed him a story from our publication.
The friend, Roger Bye, lives in the USA but had been sent the same story by an old school chum who still lives in Downend.
“The email was a cutting from Downend Voice about the possibility of Downend Cricket Ground being sold to developers,” Dave said.
“Roger knew that I used to play for the cricket club and thought, quite rightly, that I would be interested in what’s afoot for the club.”
Dave then wondered if Downend Voice had a website. One computer search later and he discovered the online version of the monthly paper.
Delighted he could keep in touch with news from his childhood stomping ground, Dave emailed us to share some of his memories.
The quantity surveyor grew up in Cleeve Gardens, a small cul-de-sac off Cleeve Wood Road, with his brother John and sister Julie.
He has very fond memories of the cricket ground.
Dave said: “As a former pupil at Downend Church School I remember that the school sports days were held there– many a three-legged race and egg and spoon race was run there and, no doubt, many tears were shed on finishing last or ending up spread-eagled on the turf!
“I remember also as a very young boy looking over the dry stone boundary wall when the Gloucestershire team played the odd game against a Downend team and I watched the likes of Tom Graveney grace the field.
“It was also at this ground that I grew to love the game of cricket and was fortunate enough to be member of the club and play there until I emigrated to South Africa.
“We all understand that time moves on but it would be a sad day for me, and many others no doubt, if this little bit of history was lost to Downend.”
Dave recalls delivering newspapers in all winds and weathers for Sperrings, which was next to the garage on the corner of Badminton Road and Cleeve Hill.
He also remembers playing for Downend Enterprise Football Club.
“We enjoyed considerable success as a team – being promoted from the 6th district league through to the 1st division in consecutive seasons and then on from there to the Premier Combination divisions,” he said.
Dave also jokes about his other great love – music.
“I remember the youth centre in Badminton Road where I was part of a rock band called Dave & the Concordes. We wanted to be discovered like the Beatles but all the talent scouts must have been out of town whenever we played – I reckon it was by design! The British public have no idea how lucky they were – I seem to recall we were dreadful!”
In 1970, when Dave was 26, a chance meeting with a South African girl who was living in Bath sealed his fate – he upped sticks and headed for sunny, humid Durban.
Nothing came of the brief romance but Dave was now firmly planted in the country, enjoying its choice climate.
Five years later Dave married Margie and the couple had two children – Mike and Susan. The couple now live in Pretoria having moved there in 1987 from a small village on the Natal North Coast, around 30 miles from Durban.
Dave and Margie enjoy the sunny skies and game reserves where they can spot a myriad of birds and animals. Dave admits the downside is the high crime rate and poverty which he attributes to high unemployment.
“The government is trying to address the situation but it’s an endless task with no visible solution in sight,” he said.
And what does Dave miss about Downend?
“It would probably be the open spaces that we had to run and play in as children,” he said.
“All those areas are now built up and the green belt areas are either shrinking or disappearing. I also miss the friends and neighbours, some have passed on but many are still around.”
The last time Dave visited Downend was five years ago but he returns to the UK occasionally to see his son Mike who lives in West Sussex with wife Perry-May and their two-year-old son Joshua. Daughter Susan is much closer geographically and lives in Cape Town with her husband Keith and sons Seth, five, and three-year-old Joss.
Would Dave ever return to his homeland?
“Margie and I occasionally discuss whether we could live back in the UK but we’re not too sure. The endless dark, damp and cold days in the English winter would be very difficult for us the handle. I don’t see it as a real possibility at this time but who knows?”