HUCSF report on their Community Player of the Year for 2014/15, Brad Walker:
Bradley Walker joined Hartlepool United Academy and played regularly for the Under 15/16 teams based at Dyke House School.
A very keen and enthusiastic local player, Brad would sometimes cycle in from Billingham to train with the Academy. He showed excellent ability, commitment and attitude and started to play up in the Youth Team and later signed contract forms as a promising young talent.
The powerful young midfielder burst onto the scene at Victoria Park when he was unexpectedly included on a pre-season tour of Holland ahead of the 2013/14 campaign.
The Billingham-born youngster had starred for the Youth Team in the previous campaign, finishing as top scorer and also providing the springboard for many of their attacks from the centre of midfield.
Despite his tender years, Walker made an immediate impression at senior level and, after a strong pre-season campaign, was handed his First Team debut at Rochdale on the opening day of the 2013/14 season.
His incredible composure on the ball, strength and positivity means he enjoyed a good run in the team until an ankle injury disturbed his progress temporarily.
The first of a collection of spectacular goals arrived when he climbed off the bench to volley a stunner against Burton Albion in December 2013.
Walker added another two brilliant goals before the end of his maiden season, including a volley against Southend United in February 2014 which was voted Goal of the Season.
He capped a whirlwind first season by scooping the prestigious Apprentice of the Year award for League Two at the Football League Awards in London, as well as being named as the Club’s Young Player of the Year.
At the start of 2014/15, Walker was given international recognition when he was called up to an England Under 18 training camp at St George’s Park and he continued to contend for a place in the Pools First Team.
He made almost 30 appearances during 2014/15 and scored some crucial goals in the second half of the season – including a winner against Mansfield Town – which helped secure the Club’s League Two status in dramatic fashion.
At the end of the season through his outstanding Community work Brad was chosen as Hartlepool United Community Player of the Year.
At short notice he would cover cancelled player visits so not to let the young people down. Brad regularly stayed for the full duration of any activity he attended and enjoyed taking part and joined in the sessions with the young children.
The school that Brad had attended, Northfield School and Sports Academy, won the Kinder+ Sport Girls U13 local Final against St Michaels School which was played on the Victoria Park pitch and Brad presented the medals and trophies to the players.
Northfield School then progressed through the Area and Regional Finals of this prestigious competition to reach the Wembley Final where they were narrowly defeated by Brentford 1-0.
In the run up to the Final, Brad attended his local school to coach the Under 13 girls to boost the players’ morale and pass on some of his knowledge and playing tips, showing great empathy with the young girls.
Brad regularly tweeted throughout the Kinder+ Sport Competition to show his support for his local school and appeared on the local Look North News with the girls as they progressed to the Wembley Final.
Brad was delighted to receive the award, “It’s a great honour to receive the HUCSF Community Player of the Year 2014/15.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed the visits in the community which help forge close links between the Club and its supporters, promoting fans for the future. I was really pleased to help out my local Northfield School as they progressed to a Wembley Final”.