Luke Davenport (Neil Newbon) 2003-2004

First Regular Appearance: 7.2 (#294) Long Live The King  Sunday 5th October 2003

Temporary Departure: 7.15 (#307) Baptism Of Fire  Sunday 11th January 2004

Returned: 7.23 (#315) Locked Out  Sunday 7th March 2004

Last Regular Appearance: 7.26 (#318) Sign On  Sunday 28th March 2004

Duration: EP: 294 - 307, 315 - 318 ½ SE: 7.2 – 7.15, 7.23 – 7.26

Squad Number/Position: #11 (Striker) (2003-2004)

Last Seen: With his career prematurely-ended, leaves Harchester following the loss of his eye.

 

A Birmingham boy, Luke Davenport's immense talent as a striker was sure to earn him future stardom. In the same mould as David Beckham, he signed his first professional contract aged eighteen in 1997 with Premiership giants Manchester United. During his four-year-stint with the Red Devils he won the Premier League three times and gained (and lost) his first place in the England squad. When van Nistelrooy caught their eye, United sold Luke to Barcelona for £20M, and the next two seasons saw Luke become hot property in Europe and place his reputation as a worldwide superstar.

 

His next big move came down to a bidding war between Juventus and Harchester United - the Dragons being the surprise victors when fiery Chief Exec Pilar Hernandez paid €40M, breaking the British transfer record for a player. Arriving in a blaze of publicity Luke is every bit the style icon, seen with a different girl whenever he steps outside, and his game is everything anticipated and more. With four goals in his first two games (including a hat-trick on his debut), Luke is included in the England squad alongside Ryan Naysmith who is making his debut. It appears Luke is riding a wave of success both on and off the pitch, and is about to launch the next stage of his LD Brand with his own customised football boot.

 

Luke begins to suffer sight loss, and visiting a private ophthalmologist learns he has a hereditary condition which has left his father blind. There is an operation, but it will take Luke out of the game for months, and he is desperate to keep his diagnosis from getting out. With Ryan, his partnership is crucial in keeping Luke's on-the-pitch performance intact, and when he gets a move to Liverpool Luke forces Pilar to terminate it. Ryan punches Luke, affecting his sight further, and he undergoes the operation with only Pilar and Stuart aware of his plight. Dean Boyle, in a crusade to destroy the club reveals the truth, and Luke decides to travel abroad to recuperate in peace. Luke contributes a sum of his own money for Viv Wright's signing on fee to keep the team strengthened in his absence.

 

While he is away, Harchester drop below 6th place in the League and are liquidated by Coopers Bank. Some quick thinking by Pilar to persuade Luke to return convinces the creditors to allow the club to continue, with Champions League now again in sight. Luke is back to his full potential, but his subconscious now gets to him regarding contact with other players, and the fear he will lose his sight again. The help of a hypnotherapist gets him back on track, and when Lee Presley is absent for Chelsea Luke steps in to mark John Terry. A challenge in the 90th minute sees the two clash heads, and Luke's worst nightmare comes when major injury is caused to his eye and he is stretchered off the pitch.

 

Luke undergoes surgery again, but the damage done is too great and his eye has to be removed. Luke is forced to face the truth that his playing career is over, and the club learn the real cost of his service to the club. After reassuring Presley he shouldn't blame himself for the position he was put in, Luke is driven away from the club for good

 

Neil Newbon's interview with Dream Team Diehard (January 2016)