Players From The Past: Calum Davenport
Controversial defender Calum Davenport was one of a rare few players in West Ham United history to enjoy two separate spells at the club, wearing the Claret & Blue in 2004 and then between the years of 2007 and 2009.
In the latest edition of our Players From The Past series, we look back at the career of the troubled centre-back and detail his time in East London, how did he end up at Upton Park? Which off-field disturbances marred his second spell with West Ham and ended his career? And more importantly, where Is he now?
Davenport was born in Bedford, England in January 1983 and grew up dreaming of becoming a professional footballer, an ambition that would be realised in later life.
He signed for his first club in 2000, local team Coventry City, with whom he would progress quickly through the youth ranks and levels and into the first-team picture.
The tall defender soon made his senior debut for the Midlands outfit in their final season in the Premiership, before establishing himself as a regular in the lower leagues for the club.
However, despite being in the First Division, his talent didn’t go unspotted and without even bringing up a century of appearances for City, he was snapped up by a Premier League team.
This Top-Flight outfit would be Tottenham Hotspur, where he would bolster his chances with the national team, making it into the England U21s frame but sadly, never turning out for the senior side.
Davenport’s time at White Hart Lane would not be a happy period as his spell was interrupted by loans, three of them in fact, although they did grant him his first spell in Claret & Blue.
Before short loans with Southampton and Norwich City, the defender joined up with the Hammers for the first half of the 2004/2005 campaign, ironically, his last game for Coventry being against West Ham.
He helped Alan Pardew’s men to several key victories, which would prove important in their promotion back up to the Premiership, later enjoying very similar spells with the Saints and the Canaries.
In total, Davenport failed to feature 20 times with the Lilywhites and in January 2007, earned the second multi-million-pound move of his career, staying in the capital and going East.
Alan Curbishley was the man to bring the centre-half to E13 and his first assignment was to help the team complete “The Great Escape” to survival the drop back to the First Division, something he and the club were able to do with a final day triumph at Old Trafford, a match he didn’t feature in.
However, despite initially bedding into the team well, Davenport, still struggling with his fair share of injury woes, was far from the first choice for the 2007/2008 season under Curbishley.
He didn’t feature for the entire first half of the campaign, sparking rumours about his future, before there was some clarity as he was pushed out to Hertfordshire club Watford a division below.
It had seemed that Davenport’s luck had well and truly run out by this stage, suffering a horrific neck injury on debut for the Hornets against Charlton Athletic at Vicarage Road.
The broken spine bone kept him sidelined until the following summer and he recovered well thanks to the help of West Ham’s physios and medical staff, he was fit and firing again for the 2008/2009 term.
Davenport enjoyed a run of games in the starting Xl under the guidance of new boss Gianfranco Zola and even netted for the first time in Hammers colours, a header in a 4-1 home thrashing of Blackburn Rovers.
Although this was the best it would get for him in a West Ham short, the defender soon losing his pace in the team and being loaned out to Sunderland in the winter transfer window.
He helped the Black Cats to a mid-table finish and was well liked at the Stadium of Light due to his quality of performance, once again returning to London in the summer to prepare for 2009/2010.
Little did the Bedford-born star know that Sunderland’s home defeat to Chelsea in May 2009 would be the last time that he played the game he loved at a professional level.
While starting the season with the Irons, Davenport was caught up in a horrible off-field incident in which he was stabbed by his sister’s boyfriend at his mother’s house in the early hours of an August night.
It had reportedly been a revenge attack, after Davenport attacked his own sister weeks earlier, although he would be later cleared of that accusation in court.
Meanwhile, the man who attacked him with a knife, causing him to have significant blood loss in his legs, Worrell Whitehurst was jailed for six years in court just under a year later.
Months after the stabbing, Davenport had his contract with the Irons terminated due to a breach while he was recovering from the injury, the end of a West Ham career that promised much.
The central defender tried to get back into professional football, training briefly with Leeds United, before deciding that non-league Wootton Blue Cross would be the best place to go to build his strength and stamina, he departed in 2012.
Two years later, he signed for another amateur side in the form of Elstow Abbey, a club which he would be saved from following his arrest for a changing room assault on a fellow player.
Nowadays, at the age of 35 and having endured an up and down career, Davenport is enjoying his retirement and relaxing away from the limelight of the football spotlight.
Calum Davenport, specifically during his second spell wearing the famous Claret & Blue, is a player that, without his off-field troubles, could have excelled to greatness at West Ham United, but instead, his is an unfortunate and frustrating tale.