The second time was supposed to be different for Stephen Davies. After “escaping the cult of DSoe” once already, the impressionable DTA manager was lured back again under the premise that there would be no inappropriate touching, this time. In one sense, DSoE leader, Sean Downs was true to his word. But where the midnight visits to Davies’ bunk bed ceased, it was the slap, heard around around the world, from DSoE enforcer, David Twigg, that proved to be the final straw for Davies.
It marks a rollercoaster few seasons where Davies, Downs’ one-time confidant, went from a staunch ally to one of the DSoE’s biggest critics, lifting a lid on some of the secretive groups nefarious practices. In recent seasons, Downs has expanded DSoE recruitment into right-wing Fantasy factions, only to try and legitimize the group’s appeal by connecting with divisive figures like Nigel Farage, Donald Trump and Garth Crooks.
Holed up in a secret location, Davies shares the latest chapter of his DSoE nightmare over a heavily encrypted network. In his harrowing account, he details that once Downs discovered he was preparing to leave, Michael Davies and David Twigg were despatched to, in Davies own words, “take care of the problem.” A terse comment in response from Downs to the FT simply states that “it’s all a misunderstanding. Stephen Davies will always be a DSoE legend.” But it’s a compliment Davies dismissively waves away. “Of course I’m a legend,” he begins, “Downs only wanted me there for the trophy (Davies’ 2016/17 DoDi title). But now that the DSoE’s new policy doesn’t recognize trophies, points, relegation…anything, I was surplus to requirements. Downs has his new favourites and I’m not one of them.”
It paints a harrowing picture of the DSoE’s private and public-facing perception. Downs has long been derided for overseeing a campaign of failure with his own clubs, Downsy’s 11 and Super Ted FC, only to expand that mediocrity to a single-issue, paradoxical brand that appeals to the disillusioned. To many, fallen giants, Xtal tha Pulsewidth, represent DSoE’s target demographic—a former DoBo team with no silverware to speak of set for their first season in the bottom division. Contrastingly, though, the most successful club in the league, FC Des, were drawn to the DSoE by Downs’ anti-establishment message, despite benefiting from the establishment more than any other side.
And it’s that divergence that has made, and continues to make, the DSoE’s presence such a compelling part of the Fantasy landscape. Failure is the DSoE’s core DNA, but so is a beguiling sense of rebellion. It’s what drew Stephen Davies to them once, twice upon a time. You wouldn’t rule out a third time lucky.