Walsall FC PA Team trio call it a day after combined 98 years of service

Three familiar voices over the tannoys at Walsall Football Club have called it a day after 98 years service between them.

The PA team at Walsall FC: Michael Day, Gavin Drake and David Bathurst
The PA team at Walsall FC: Michael Day, Gavin Drake and David Bathurst

Saturday’s match against Swindon Town was the final curtain for David Bathurst, Michael Day and Gavin Drake of the PA team.

David has been working in the team for 45 years, having started at Fellows Park before transitioning into the current PA room.

As stadium announcer, David is a recognisable voice for generations of Walsall FC fans, having covered home games and other on-field events at the club.

His role also saw him co-ordinating and planning matchday schedules and relaying important information over the tannoy to supporters.

Michael Day, Gavin Drake and David Bathurst

David said: "I’ve really enjoyed my time here. It’s been 45 years of service to the club and its supporters which I shall look back on with immense pride and pleasure.

"Unfortunately, all good things have to come to an end and my commitments and health as such tell me that now is the time to call it a day.

"There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes, it’s not just a case of turning up on the day, so to have managed some of the high-profile matches over the years, such as Liverpool in the second leg of the semi-final of the Milk Cup, efficiently is something I look back on fondly.

David will continue to attend matches as a supporter over the coming seasons and is thankful to have built many positive relationships over the years.

Michael has been an employee of the club for 35 years and has overseen a number of roles during that time.

Joining the PA team officially in 2006, Michael is responsible for operating the electronic scoreboard as well as selecting suitable music for the match day playlists.

He said: "I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being part of the set-up here.

"This will be my 35th season working for the club and that in itself is something that I’m immensely proud of.

"I’ve had a lot of roles during that time, starting by helping out with the mascots on matchdays and then eventually going into photography, working on the programme, and things just progressed organically since then.

"Knowing the guys in the PA team already, I used to sit in with them and help out when they were short staffed and eventually the position was made official.

"It’s something I’m hugely proud of and the fact that my dad was a registered player at Walsall back in the day makes it sweeter, as he was always proud of me for working for the club just as much as I was proud of him.

"I’d like to thank all the staff I’ve dealt with and the supporters; I’ve made some great friends and they’ve offered me lots of encouragement and positive feedback during my time and that in itself has also been rewarding.

"I’ll still be attending games at the stadium, when possible, but in a different capacity and just as a supporter.

Gavin has been at the club for just over 18 years in the role of pitchside announcer and has also covered for David and occasionally hosted in the Stadium Suite.

He has many fond memories of his time with the Saddlers but feels that the spirit and togetherness of the club has stood out the most.

Gavin, who was born in Little Bloxwich and moved to Brewer Street when he was seven, said: "The key memory for me, which was so humbling, was when young Teddie Phillips was mascot.

"To see a family who had received such devastating news about their son and were determined not to let that be a year of misery but a year of joy, that for me was the most striking memory.

"There is a club atmosphere at Walsall and a sense of belonging that you don’t always get with bigger clubs.

"That was evident when my first wife died, she was a well-known campaigner and her death was national news."

Gavin was married to Jill Saward, the first rape victim to waive her anonymity and speak out about her attack.

The mother of three, spent a lifetime campaigning for the rights of sex attack victims and passed away in 2017.

Gavin added: "When she died, I got a phone call from Jon Whitney, the manager at the time.

"It meant a lot that the manager cared enough to phone me personally.

"I got cards and messages from the players and the club treated me really well.

"On Jill’s birthday – a few days after her death – my family and I were invited to watch the match as guests of the club.

"They really looked after me - that was really special.

"When people face tragedy, the club knows how to look after people well and I think that’s something the bigger clubs struggle with."

Gavin added: "Fans may wonder why three announcers are going at the same time, but we’re all going for different reasons.

"We’re not abandoning the club, we were Walsall fans before and we will be Walsall fans after we’ve done this.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and thank everybody for their kind words and support throughout these past 18 years.

"Good luck to whoever is next in line and I hope the fans continue to get behind the club and the players in the coming seasons."

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