AS a child growing up a stone’s throw away from The Halliwell Jones Stadium, Danny Walker used to be scared of going to rugby training.

Now, he is preparing for a Super League campaign in the colours he dreamed of wearing.

For Wire fans, Walker truly is one of their own.

He stood shoulder-to-shoulder with them for many years on the terraces, cheering on his heroes in primrose and blue.

“Playing for Warrington is something I’ve wanted to do since I first started watching them when I was five with my family,” he said.

“I’d be there in my full Warrington kit ready to go to every game.

Walker as a youngster

“We all had season tickets in the East Stand.

“When my brothers got a bit older they moved over to the South Stand.

“I couldn’t wait to do that when I was a bit older so I could be a part of the barmy army!

“We went to away games as much as we could. My mum and Dad didn’t like me going far to away games just with my mates because I was only young at the time.

“But places like Saints and Wigan that were just a train away, I’d always be there.

“I went to Wembley a couple of times, in 2010 and 2012.

“I was actually dressed up as a 118 man with one of my mates one of the years, with blue and white socks on and my face all done up!”

With the Challenge Cup trophy

Walker grew up in Orford and was rugby-mad from a young age, but football also played a big part in his upbringing.

He also explained about how the prospect of rugby training scared him as a youngster before going on to play junior rugby at Rylands Sharks and Crosfields.

“My dad always wanted a lad to push football through for a bit,” he said.

“I used to double up on a Sunday, so I’d play football in the morning on one side of town then go straight to rugby.

“I played at Bruche for a bit then went to Fife Rangers. That went on until I got to under 15s and 16s, when I needed to focus on rugby.

“My brothers played at Woolston for a little bit, and I used to just train with their team now and then.

“They used to batter me because they were five years older than me!

“I moved over to Rylands when I was in the under 7s. I was a bit scared when I was a kid, I never wanted to get out of the car when my Dad dropped me off.

“We used to turn round and go home, but I finally got brave enough to go out there and I’ve never looked back.

“I was there until I was 14 then went to Crosfields.

“I try to get back to both clubs as much as I can and give back to them. They did a lot for me on and off the field and I’ll never be anything other than grateful to those clubs.

“When I was younger, I looked up to people like Dec Patton, Mike Cooper and Matty Blythe as people who came from Warrington who played for the club.

“Being held up as that kind of example that you can come through and play for Warrington is very humbling for me.

“If I can walk round Warrington one day and have a young lad come up to me and say ‘I want to be like you one day,’ it would make it all worthwhile.”

While he moved around the town’s amateur clubs, his love for The Wire never went away.

There was one particular memory of following the team that stuck out to him.

“At a young age, Nathan Wood was my favourite player,” he said.

Nathan Wood was one of Walker's Wire heroes growing up. Picture by Mike Boden

“In the back of my mind, I can remember his last game at the Halliwell Jones.

“I was on my Dad’s shoulders at the front of the stand when he was doing his lap of honour.

“I managed to get a high-five off him. I don’t think I washed that hand for about six weeks!

“Briersey (Lee Briers) is desperate for me to say he was my favourite, but I’m not giving him that.

“When I started looking at positions and playing a bit of hooker, I looked up to Mickey Higham and Michael Monaghan.”

Having starred in junior rugby and for Beamont Collegiate Academy’s team, the time came for him to sign scholarship forms.

The option to stay with Warrington was open to him, but he chose to cross the divide to Widnes Vikings.

After joining their academy at the age of 14, he went on to make his first-team debut for the Vikings aged 17.

Walker scoring for Widnes against Leeds in 2018. Picture by Richard Walker

Now an England Knights international and back with The Wire, making the move is not a decision he regrets.

“I’ve always said since I was a young lad that I’d love to play for Warrington one day,” he said.

“When I signed scholarship forms at Widnes, I had the option to stay at Warrington because I was within the service area.

“At that time, I thought it was right for me to go. I needed a change.

“I don’t regret it because it was good for me.

“I didn’t expect to be playing for Warrington at the age of 19, but it’s something I’m really looking forward to

“There’s a few of us local lads and for us, playing for Warrington means everything.

“You’re going to give 150 per cent whoever you play for, but playing for your hometown makes it that bit more special.”