Leon Davis (footballer)

Leon Davis (born 17 June 1981) is a former Australian rules footballer who played with the Collingwood Football Club in the Australian Football League (AFL).

Leon Davis
Personal information
Full name Leon Davis
Nickname(s) "Neon Leon"[1]
Date of birth (1981-06-17) 17 June 1981
Place of birth Western Australia
Original team(s) Railways (AFA)
Draft 34th pick, 1999 National Draft Collingwood
Height 177 cm (5 ft 10 in)
Weight 80 kg (176 lb)
Position(s) Utility
Club information
Current club Template:Heathmere
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
2000–2011 Collingwood 225 (270)
Representative team honours
Years Team Games (Goals)
2008 Dream Team 1 (3)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 2011.
Career highlights
Sources: AFL Tables, AustralianFootball.com

Originally from Northam, Western Australia, Davis played for Perth before being drafted by Collingwood in the 1999 National Draft. He made his senior debut for the club in 2000, and went on to play in grand final losses in 2002 and 2003. Playing mainly as a small forward, Davis was selected in the All-Australian team in 2009, having won the Goal of the Year award the previous season. He was awarded a premiership medallion in 2010, having played in the drawn 2010 AFL Grand Final, before being dropped for the replay that Collingwood won. In 2011, Davis switched to a role as a rebounding defender, and was again named in the All-Australian team. He left the club at the conclusion of the 2011 season to return to play for Perth in the WAFL.

Background and junior career

Davis, of Aboriginal heritage, played his junior football for the Railways Football Club in the Avon Football Association (AFA) and the Perth Football Club in the West Australian Football League.[2] 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).

AFL career

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. His form waned slightly during the 2010 season. Davis played all but one match during the home and away season, but was injured 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,[1] and was dropped for Collingwood's win in the grand final replay the following week.

In 2011, Davis was moved into the backline. 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.[3]

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,[4] and went on to sign a two-year contract to play for his former WAFL side, Perth, in 2012 and 2013.[2]

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.[5] Davis is a 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. In the 2011 grand final against Geelong he gave Collingwood a lot of run of half back and tackled well.[5]


 G  Goals  B  Behinds  K  Kicks  H  Handballs  D  Disposals  M  Marks  T  Tackles
Season Team No. Games G B K H D M T G B K H D M T Votes
Totals Averages (per game)
2000 Collingwood 4015118783511320240.
2001 Collingwood 11821121062513132161.
2002 Collingwood 12331191914823955531.
2003 Collingwood 1131811852911423181.
2004 Collingwood 11923131624520754411.
2005 Collingwood 11211111195016946200.
2006 Collingwood 11523141505120148241.50.910.03.413.43.21.62
2007 Collingwood 124312125050300601031.30.910.
2008 Collingwood 122322129785382101731.
2009 Collingwood 1233524351120471109961.
2010 Collingwood 12027261697424357731.
2011 Collingwood 1217833912346289780.30.416.15.922.04.23.74
Career 225 270 188 2297 735 3032 694 619 1.2 0.8 10.2 3.3 13.5 3.1 2.8 27


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,[7] and only accepted later in the week after a face-to-face meeting.[8]


  1. Neon Leon might still have a chance to shine in grand final replay
  2. Washbourne, Michael (13 December 2011). "Former Collingwood player Leon Davis returns to Perth Demons". Herald Sun. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
  3. Future of Collingwood's Leon Davis hinges on Grand Final result
  4. Warner, Michael (15 December 2011). "Leon Davis' $100,00 (sic) pay cut". Herald Sun. Retrieved 15 December 2011.
  5. Moran, Michael (31 July 2010). "Leon Davis's (sic) finals straw". Herald Sun. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
  6. Leon Davis' player profile at AFL Tables
  7. Hogan, Jesse (19 July 2005). "Hunt apologises for racial 'stuff up'". The Age. Melbourne, VIC. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
  8. "Contrite Hunt says Davis accepts appology (sic)". AAP General News (Australia). 21 July 2005. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
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