Dan Walker puts football in focus

Dan WalkerDan Walker was standing on Murray Mound about to present a live piece to camera from the Wimbledon tennis tournament when through his earpiece he heard his editor’s voice:

“There’s absolutely nothing to worry about – there are only 13.5 million people watching you.”

It was the sort of comment that would make many young journalists “wet themselves”, but he managed to carry on regardless, he said.

Dan thanks his training at Sheffield University and the grounding he received working in local radio and regional television for the fact he was able to retain his composure.

He was speaking to a packed audience at the first in a series of guest lectures organised by Department of Journalism Studies.

Today, Dan is one of the best known faces in British sports journalism, presenting the BBC’s Football Focus Saturday lunchtime show to an audience of almost two million.

Apprenticeship

But he has served his apprenticeship at the less glamorous end of the reporting profession. After graduating from the University of Sheffield with a BA in History and an MA in Broadcast Journalism, he began his career as a commentator and sports reporter at Piccadilly Radio in Manchester, where he spent four years before moving to the world of television with ITV.

He started out with the BBC at North West Tonight in Manchester where he won the coveted Royal Television Society Award as the Best Regional Presenter in 2005, before moving on to London to work as a sports presenter on BBC News and BBC World. Dan took over on Football Focus in 2009.

He presents golf, rugby, horse racing and tennis and has interviewed everyone from Eric Cantona to Sir Alex Ferguson and the prime minister, David Cameron.

Women commentators

He caused a bit of a stir in the audience when he said he didn't think women made suitable football commentators because of the pitch of their voices.

But he added he'd worked alongside some excellent women journalists and that he thought Clare Balding was the best sports presenter on the BBC.

He told students that they were unlikely to get rich from journalism, but the job was varied and you get to work alongside some very creative people.

He urged students to work hard and keep practising their trade, and take any opportunities that present themselves.

“You have to have confidence in your own ability. It is no use worrying that there is someone else out there that can do the job better than you can. You have to be sure of your capabilities. That’s not the same as being arrogant. If you’re arrogant you will come unstuck,” he said.