Gypsy’s funeral cars had a double line of honour, as they passed through the Rugby Club grounds on the way to Saltwell Crematorium, as a sizeable crowd, adhering to social distancing, turned out to pay last respects to John ‘Gypsy’ Davidson, a lovely man, a great bloke and a great human being.
A Few Words about Gypsy – from Barry Rowlands
I’m sorry I can’t join you today to say goodbye, celebrate John’s life and give you all a hug. I’m sure we’re all looking forward to the time when we can all get together and have a big party to remember him; we all know how he looked forward to a party, especially an all day session at a wedding or a funeral.
I was touched when you asked me to write a few words about John to be read out at the service. It’s a great privilege to share a few of my memories and I hope I can do justice to the task and represent his many friends that have been touched by the unique character “Gypsy”. A loving and proud husband, father and grandfather and a valued friend to so very many.
His warm and infectious personality, his youthful outlook, his hope, optimism and enthusiasm, his trust of others, his generosity of spirit and his ability to make everyone he touched feel special made him special.
He is a connection across many generations at Blaydon Rugby Club, a constant presence either as a player, friend or employee. From ex senior players and officials from the 70’s to those involved in junior and mini rugby today. He is well known and respected across the North East rugby fraternity and more wider afield.
My friendship with John stretches back almost 40 years, our relationship and that of our families is not confined to our mutual love of rugby and Blaydon Rugby Club. He befriended my wider family, my mam, dad, wife ,4 children and my little brother Craig. They always spoke fondly of him, and Craig has represented the Rowland Brothers in my absence abroad. He loved my mother’s corned beef pasties, he was a popular baby sitter with our young children when we all went camping together, he taught Rebecca to roll cigarettes at the age of 5, and all of the children when young painted an image of him as a gift to hang in his shed. He liked me to sing A Little Tenderness by The Commitments, and as you know he liked Theakstons, a cigarette or 2 and he couldn’t keep a secret!
When I first met him he had lots of black curly hair and his own teeth, about 20 years ago Peter Graham removed his teeth and presented him with a set of very white dentures; I don’t know if anyone else noticed this transformation!
As well as his ability to connect across generations he was able to hold his own across all social classes; at the top Boris Johnson, Donald Trump, Jim Huxley and Kit Whittfield and at the very bottom Dancing Davy and Stag!
As you know he could be a bit of a dreamer and considered himself in his younger days to be a local lothario in the Swalwell area, “he had the ability to attract women of all ages that was legendary, he was a magnet “-all words that John used to describe himself! One of his standard lines he used when introduced to a new member of the rugby club bar staff was “when I was younger before I was married I’m sure I went out with your mother” much to his disappointment and damage to his ego ,particular in recent years ,invariably the response was “no I think that must have been my grandmother!”
As a younger man he was an all rounder, a gymnast, an excellent swimmer and rugby player. “One of the best props ever seen at the rugby club a great natural athlete” – again all words he used to describe himself!
Inspired by the film Billy Elliot ,Gypsy and Stag got their tutu’s and tights back out and reformed the Sugar Plums to dance the Nut Cracker at my brother Craig’s wedding, an experience I will never forget, and most of the guests were scarred by.
He did in recent years still treat us to an exhibition of forward rolls and cartwheels in the rugby club bar.
He was full of fun, an uninhibited character that was always up to responding to a dare, episodes of note included:-
– barred from an invitation only 1st team drinking session in an upstairs changing room at the rugby club, he decided to accept the challenge of stripping naked, donning only a tiny apron borrowed from the kitchen, climbed up the ladder in darkness and preceded to pretend his was a window cleaner come to clean the windows. He was dragged in through the window and they enjoyed his company releasing him after 2 hours of torture and humiliation.
– having gate crashed another private function at the rugby club, a halloween party he was keen to enter the spirit of the event. He took little persuasion to respond to a suggestion that he should burn 2 holes in a white large tablecloth and re-enter the function room as a ghost.
– on a rugby trip to the Isle of Man he followed the instruction to remove his dentures and entertain the Manx community with a toothless rendition of the Blaydon Races.
– since the new clubhouse was built in 1996 it became a popular wedding venue, Gypsy would insist on joining all photographs of the wedding party whether he knew them or not. I can imagine bride and groom and parents looking back on their special day wondering who’s that bloke with the white teeth and the cheeky smile.
He loved his rugby tours both domestic and international, along with others we would spend many hours remembering the great times we had together, our travels included amongst others, Bognor Regis, Doncaster, The Isle of Man, Portugal and The Crow Flies South tour to Barcelona in 1996 ( sometimes referred to as the tour of bad breath). He wasn’t bothered about how exotic the destination, he was happy if he was with his mates and of course whatever trip he was on had Susan’s full approval.
Gypsy was a massive personality and a central character at the heart of the rugby club he is loved and will be missed by us all.
Of course as an active and enthusiastic member of the Stone Crows having now fallen off his perch he has ascended to the great nest in the sky, and from there he will be able to enjoy depositing droppings on us for eternity.
Finally, as you know he was a sensitive soul who was not afraid to express his love, I will always remember our last hug and his saying “I love you bud”
Lots of love