AustralianFootball.com Celebrating the history of the great Australian game
17 June 1981 (age 41)
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 18y 270d
Last game: 30y 106d
Height and weight
Height: 177 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Collingwood: 40, 1
Jeff Garlett (Nephew)
|Club||League||Career span||Games||Goals||Avg||Win %||AKI||AHB||AMK||BV|
AFL: 11,019th player to appear, 425th most games played, 244th most goals kickedCollingwood: 1,006th player to appear, 25th most games played, 17th most goals kicked
Leon Davis played 225 games for Collingwood between 2000 and 2011.
Davis, of Aboriginal heritage, played his junior football for the Perth Football Club in the West Australian Football League. He was drafted to the Australian Football League by the Collingwood Football Club in the 1999 AFL National Draft with a second round selection (No. 34 overall).
Davis won regular selection at Collingwood early in his career, playing almost forty games in his first two seasons. Playing as a small forward, Davis averaged almost a goal a game over this time. He played 23 matches and kicked 31 goals during the 2002 season, and played in the Grand Final loss against the Brisbane Lions, although he failed to register a possession in the match. Davis went through a form slump late in the 2003 season, and missed the second half of the season (although he returned for the preliminary final), but returned to form in 2004, playing 19 games for 23 goals. In 2005, Davis played his 100th game, becoming the first Aboriginal player to do so for the Collingwood Football Club. After six years playing exclusively as a small forward, Davis moved further up the field in 2007, playing some time in the midfield; but, he still managed 29 goals in the forward-line.
In 2008, Davis came 4th in the Copeland Trophy , Collingwood's Best and Fairest award, and represented the Dream Team in the AFL Hall of Fame Tribute Match. Davis also won the AFL's Goal of the Year, for a solo effort in Round 22 against Fremantle: he tackled and dispossessed Des Headland on the half-forward flank, paddled and gathered the ball near the boundary line, ran inside 50 on the boundary line and hit a low and hard kick from a tight angle for a goal. In the 2008/09, he featured in the official advertisement for the AFL, contesting the Australian football against Kieren Jack along the surface of an ice hockey rink.
Davis continued to divide his time between midfield and forwardline, and had a very strong year in 2009, earning All-Australian selection as a forward pocket for the season. However, his form waned during the 2010 season, and despite playing all but one match during the home and away season, Davis was dropped for Collingwood's preliminary final. He returned for the drawn Grand Final, kicking a vital goal in the final quarter but otherwise having a quiet game, and was dropped for Collingwood's win in the Grand Final Replay the following week. He nevertheless received a Premiership Medallion following Collingwood's victory in the replay.
In 2011, Davis was moved into the backline, and became a rebounding defender. He was very successful in this role, and received his second career selection in the All-Australian team and a fifth placing in the Copeland Trophy.
Davis left Collingwood at the end of 2011. Davis has not confirmed the exact reason for his departure, but it is known that he was offered a 30% pay cut at the end of 2011, despite his All-Australian season, and it is known that he had previously expressed a desire to return with his family to Perth. He nominated for the draft but was not selected, and went on to sign a two-year contract to play for his former WAFL side, Perth, in 2012 and 2013.
Throughout his career, Davis became a cult figure of sorts amongst Collingwood supporters, and was widely known by the nickname "Neon Leon", for his exciting style of play, although he did not particularly like the nickname himself. Davis is a renowned specialist at the banana kick shot at goal, which has earned him several nominations for "Goal Of The Year", although his Goal of the Year victory in 2008 was not from such a kick. Whether rightly or wrongly, Davis also gained an undesirable reputation for not being able to perform in finals, particularly Grand Finals; despite being a premiership player in 2010, Davis played in four grand finals for three losses and a draw throughout his career, and did not have any significant influence in any of those games.
Davis was involved in a controversial incident involving a racial slur in 2005, when 3AW radio commentator Rex Hunt called Davis 'as black as a dog' during the call against Essendon mid-way through the season. Hunt made the comment when he trailed off while saying "Neon Leon hasn't lit up tonight; he's as black as a dog's guts in the night", to describe Davis' poor form in that match in terms of a neon lights metaphor; other members of the commentary team had been using different neon lights metaphors in the same context. Hunt's apology to Davis was initially rejected, and only accepted later in the week after a face-to-face meeting.