IT IS 1971 and a six-year-old Steve Davis stands on the South Bank terrace, held tightly by his father, Peter, and wrapped from head to toe in gold and black.
He is swaying from left to right, as thousands of fans jostle to get the best view of their beloved team.
It is packed. Molineux is the place to be, and First Division side Wolverhampton Wanderers are the team to watch.
Davis remembers: “Molineux is a special place for me. I remember we would always park down West Park and walk up to the ground, passing the gold and black memorabilia and rosettes on the way.
“My dad worked in Tipton with all of his mates who were Wolves fans, so he wanted to convert me as early as he could.
“He would buy us both a ticket on the day and we would get in whichever stand we could.
“We used to stand behind where the little St. John Ambulance hut was because it was the quietest part for me as a little one – I think he was frightened about it all kicking off.
“From the first time I stepped foot inside the ground I was hooked. He would prop me up on the barriers and I would just sit there, in a world of my own, open-mouthed, taking it all in, dreaming of being on the pitch one day.
“The team was brilliant – Kenny Hibbitt, Frank Munro, John Richards. I can remember going to Villa Park for the FA Cup Semi Finals against Arsenal in 79…” he tails off.
Fast forward to the present day and Davis – now 57 years old, and my dad – is preparing for another week as interim manager of the club he has supported his entire life, following the sudden sacking of Bruno Lage last week.
He was thrust into the managerial hot seat alongside Under-23s manager, James Collins, in the run up to Saturday’s trip to Chelsea and went on to lead the team during the 3-0 defeat.
Although he and Collins were unable to prevent the winless streak stretching to three games or stop them slipping further towards the base of the Premier League table, Davis has managed to put smiles on faces and capture the hearts of football fans around the country.
For Wanderers fans, his caretaker tenure has given them the chance to live out the ultimate dream of managing their team.
“It is indescribable – an unbelievably proud moment for me,” Davis says with a smile, reflecting on the experience at Stamford Bridge.
“I’ve dreamt of that day many times – playing in a game of that magnitude, but never thought I would ever manage the club in the Premier League. I don’t think you ever dream that big”.
Starting as player-manager with Northwich Victoria in 2003, his unique coaching journey has seen him gradually rise from the seventh tier of English Football with Nantwich Town to managing in the top-flight – a source of motivation for all the young, budding football managers who are currently putting in the hard yards beneath the EFL.
“I always thought the Premier League was so far away from me, and I’ve grown up thinking that it is just full of superstars,” he said.
“I didn’t ever imagine it would happen and I’m comfortable with that, but the fact that it has, it is difficult to sum up. It’s beyond anything that I thought I’d do.
“I’ve probably fulfilled more than I’ve ever dreamed of in the space of a week.”
Davis, who has been in charge of the club’s Under-18s for the past four years and has previously managed the likes of Crewe Alexandra and Leyton Orient, explains how he suppressed the raw emotion that is ingrained inside every avid football fan, to take training sessions, hold group meetings, pick a team and carefully craft a game plan for Chelsea.
“It’s difficult to explain, but you got into a zone,” he says.
The people of Wolverhampton are genuine, humble and the people the club employ all share certain values – determination, unity, togetherness. I see those qualities in and around the building every day.
“You’re in control but you’re utilising the staff around you. You go into that managing role.”
The task of rejuvenating the players and bringing a feel-good-factor to the group has been a challenge, he admits, but one that he has embraced.
“I’ve tried to make small changes since stepping in. It’s not an easy situation as interim manager, but you have to make small gains.”
“I’ve never felt better than anyone else, I’ve always been humble and valued every single person within the football club, particularly those that aren’t in the limelight – cleaners, bus drivers, they are equally as important to me as the chairman.
“That’s something that I’ve tried to get across – I think that’s really important.”
Bruno Lage’s sacking left Wolves in their most difficult spot since they returned to the Premier League four years ago.
It left the connection between the team, its backroom staff and fan base fragmented, but despite that, Davis believes the support of the fanbase has never changed and remains just as strong today as it did when he passed through the turnstiles.
“They [the fans] were equally behind the club as much as they are now.
“The older brigade will appreciate some of the football they’ve seen over the years – there were some top players back then – but I also think they realise these have been our best moments over the last four years.
“The younger fans probably won’t know any different because it’s all they’ve seen, but I’ve experienced the decline, and I’ve seen the growth as well.
“I’ve managed elsewhere in my career, but I’ve always looked out for the Wolves results.
“The people of Wolverhampton are genuine, humble and the people the club employ all share certain values – determination, unity, togetherness. I see those qualities in and around the building every day.”
And those qualities will be much needed this weekend as they turn their attention to a crucial home league game against fellow-strugglers Nottingham Forest, with the side looking to claw themselves away from the relegation zone and above Southampton who sit one point adrift in 17th.
The rumours linking former Sevilla boss Julen Lopetegui with the head coach vacancy have been getting louder in recent days, but the noise is not distracting Davis and Collins who are once again central to preparing the team for another battle.
And if Davis is trusted by Chairman Jeff Shi to take the reins at Molineux this weekend, those crazy six-year-old’s dreams of stepping onto the pitch wearing the Wolves gold and black will be realised.