Mitchell Walker: Whitehawk’s new #1. He arrives with a quite superb CV, featuring the likes of Brighton & Hove Albion, Dover Athletic and Aldershot. He’s never played below National League South level ahead of his recent summer switch, and for the man who loves to catch fish when he’s not catching balls, he’s made quite the impact. Already helping his Hawks to a number of points in these early stages, who knows what the tally might become the campaign’s close. But one thing is for sure. It’s that he’ll never stop smiling, never stop commanding.
What was it about Whitehawk that stood out for you in sealing the deal?
I must admit, I’ve known Whitehawk for a long time, as I was cutting my teeth into football at Brighton [and Hove Albion]. Whitehawk’s only a stone’s throw away, and a lot of the players that came through Brighton when I was going through went on to represent Whitehawk so over the years I’ve known them a lot, played against them a lot. I’ve always known how much of a characterful club it is, and when the opportunity came in the summer… it was a little bit of a no-brainer for me to be honest with you!
You’ve already shined between the sticks, including two penalty saves already. You must be pleased with the start you’ve made?
Yeah! I’m pleased from a personal point of view. I feel as though I’m getting back to full match sharpness if you like. It took me a little while to get back into it as I had such a prolonged period off, but I’m feeling good! As a whole I think we’ve had a good start and as a team, and I’m sure that will continue with all the hard work everyone is putting into it, and I’m sure we’ll go on and have a good season.
Would you be able to run us through your career up to now?
I signed for Brighton when I was 12, did four years there, going through the academy and then got awarded with a two-year scholarship, before getting offered a two-year pro early, and then got it extended again so I ended up doing a three-year pro at Brighton. That’s when I was 20, and when I left Brighton, I was looking for more regular first-team football.
I joined Dover Athletic in Conference South, spent a very successful seven years there with them – helped getting them promoted and spent five years in National League. I then left Dover after seven years in 2018, that’s when Aldershot signed me, and I spent three years at Aldershot. Unfortunately picked up a bad injury which kept me out for 14 months or so!
Featuring for Brighton & Hove Albion back in 2009, it must have been quite the buzz for a young goalkeeper just starting out in men’s football?
It was! I don’t know, but I’m fairly sure I’m still the youngest goalkeeper to start a competitive league game for Brighton. I was 17/18, and yeah, it was absolutely fantastic. It was at their old Withdean Stadium so before they moved over to the AMEX, and the match went as well as it possible could have done! We won 1-0, I got Man of the Match, and it was fantastic.
But quickly after, in the following season, I realised that, ‘just before you’ve played one game, it doesn’t mean that you will go on and pay in the Premier League’. It was literally the case of the hard working just starting, and those last couple of years at Brighton, although I didn’t make any more first team appearances, I still travelled with the squad a lot, sat on the bench and picked up some really valuable experiences.
We see you enjoy a bit of fishing when you’re not catching balls. So, Mitch, tell us… what’s the largest fish you’ve ever caught?
Corr! The biggest fish that I’ve ever caught was with a pal of mine, we went over to Spain to fish in their equivalent of the River Thames, called the River Ebro, and we went catfishing for the week. I managed to catch a catfish, which was 172 pounds and just over nine foot long – it was the definition of a river monster!
It’s a long season, but with the first month already ticked off, how far do you think this side can go?
It’s a difficult one. Deep down I think we’re going to have a good season, but I think going forward it’s just a case of taking each game as it comes and making sure that each time, we’re in training that we’re working hard, and making sure that we’re getting better and better each week. I’ve been very impressed and happy with everything I’ve seen down at the club since I arrived, and long may that continue!