Rovers have announced today that local-legend and rumoured founder member Mickey Walker has been released from his contract at the club. Walker, now 67, has been relinquished from his role as part of restructuring at the club following relegation from the Championship, after twelve years with the club.
“This club has been part of my life since I was a boy because my Dad played for them,” Walker told the official club website, his father, also Mickey, having played for the club during the Second World War. “I feel very proud to have held the positions I have and been part of Rovers during such a great time in its history.”
Walker came to the club in 1999, working initially with the Snodin brothers, Ian and Glynn, as they tried to re-establish the club in the Conference. Walker took control of the Youth Team, overseeing the development of future first team talent such as Robert Gill, Paul Green and Ricky Ravenhill. Walker then stepped up to the role of Assistant Manager alongside Dave Penney, when he took over the reigns from the forgotten man, Steve Wignall, whoever he was.
With Walker working alongside Penney Rovers climbed out of the Conference, won Division 3 in their first season back in the league and went on a memorable Carling Cup run to the brink of the semi-finals at Belle Vue. Indeed, whenever I picture Walker in relation to Rovers I see him jumping with delight in the dug-out behind Penney during those Carling Cup matches. When Penney left the club in 2006 Walker took over as caretaker for two diametrically opposed matches; a come-back win at Port Vale in front of the S*y Sp***s cameras, and a horrendous home defeat to 10-man Gillingham.
With the arrival of Sean O’Driscoll, Walker was moved into the role of Director of Football, a role he has held ever since, save for a brief stint assisting Dean Saunders at the start of his time in charge.
Though Walker’s longevity of service and friendly approachable nature should of course be acknowledged and recognised, the move itself does appear an eminently sensible one. The Director of Football role has become increasingly irrelevant in recent years, and indeed Walker’s role in ushering Willie McKay into involvement at the club sadly cannot be ignored by many of us. I saw someone describe Walker’s departure as being s if the club had, had an organ removed, but such has been Walker’s role in the past few years then that organ would only ever really be an appendix.
Farewell then to a loyal club man who always had time and a kindly word for supporters, but I suspect in the long-term the loss of the role will not be mourned.