Primetime TV host and boyhood Crawley Town supporter, Dan Walker, tells FootieWithDad all about Saturday afternoons watching the Red Devils and pretending to be Glenn Hoddle for a period of time… We also find out where we can find Walker on our screens these days!
While you may recognise Walker from BBC Breakfast – getting up pretty early to catch him talking about World news – he is best known to us football fans by fronting Football Focus early on Saturday afternoon, with an array of former professionals as his guests on the BBC One flagship show.
Walker was born in the town of Crawley to a minister Father of a local church, where their close Father and Son bond was one the presenter remembers fondly from his early years growing up in Sussex:
“My Dad was always playing football with us as kids – booting the ball up in the air and getting us to control it and use both feet,” he said.
“He took me to Crawley Town matches nearly every Saturday afternoon, he always took a half-time apple – old school – and wore a ridiculous hat which had a feather in it!”
“He would always give me 20p at half-time to get a chocolate bar or a cup of hot Bovril – those years watching Crawley at our old Town Mead ground were a crucial part of my footballing education.”
It’s clear to see that while Walker was a fan of the Sussex club, he was just pleased to be spending time with his Dad on a Saturday afternoon surrounded by the beautiful game they both enjoyed – even if the odd match was lacking a touch of creativity…
“There was a coach company that owned the land right next to the football ground so, if the football ever got dull, you could always look over the wall at the fella cleaning his tyres,” Walker admits.
Throughout the years and more recently, the club have modernised and currently find themselves in League Two.
While many things have changed during Walker’s following, such as the stadium and divisions that Crawley ply their trade in. He remembers the good old days, or maybe not so good, as he explains:
“My first FA Cup match involved Crawley – we were 2-0 up against the mighty Merthyr Tydfil (who are now reformed as Merthyr Town) – and somehow we managed to lose 3-2!”
Walker’s football stock grew when the Father and Son duo branched out and attended a Tottenham Hotspur game: “For my birthday one year, I remember my Dad saving up for a pair of tickets for us to go and watch his beloved Spurs at White Hart Lane.”
“As we walked in to the ground, my Dad turned round and said to me: ‘Watch that Hoddle lad – he’s a bit special’” – Walker recalls.
“Hoddle went on to single handedly muller the shocked Stoke City opposition, after that I pretended to be Glenn Hoddle for the next two years and even asked my parents if I could change my name to Glenn – thankfully they said no – they were fantastic memories!”
Walker’s early football romance has enabled him to have an excellent career in the media as a football presenter and commentator. At the age of 40, it only looks to get better for the former University of Sheffield Student.
Later this year, you can see Walker present a strategy game show – ‘Chase the Case,’ which is set to be broadcast on BBC One in the afternoons. In addition to his regular roles at BBC Breakfast and Football Focus, Walker also appears on Final Score, Match Of The Day, BBC Radio 5 Live. He has also been involved with TV coverage for the World Cup and Olympic games during his media career.
Walker now resides in Sheffield with his wife and three children, he is no novice when it comes to helping out with great causes such as FootieWithDad. He’s an active patron of several charities including the Sheffield Children’s Hospital charity.
Dan Walker’s experiences will inspire the friends of FootieWithDad, as we hope to raise money and focus on those that are less fortunate than our own.
Many unprivileged children aren’t able to see their favourite team play live for whichever reason. However, you can help make dreams come true by donating to this worthwhile cause – https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/footiewithdad
We would like to thank Dan Walker for stopping by and sharing his experiences with us. Make sure you also check out all our famous face stories in our FootieWithDad blog section.