Danny’s introduction to football was as a Youth team player for Crystal Palace before moving to Chipstead for a couple of seasons (1994/1996). The 1996/1997 season saw Danny play for Whiteleafe before signing for Bromley in the Ryman Premier League where he stayed for the 1997/1998 season.
Dulwich Hamlet was to follow “Their manager was Dave Garland who had been my coach at Crystal Palace; I was player of the year at Dulwich (1999-2000)”
Danny’s career continued to progress when in the 2001/2002 season he signed for Crawley Town “They were a massive club in the Southern League with a fantastic new ground & I loved playing for them. I got the local paper’s player of the year at Crawley (2000-01) and then the club’s entire player of the year awards in 2001-02.”
“I was scoring between 14 and 18 goals a season from midfield in the Ryman & Dr Marten’s Premier Divisions for Dulwich and Crawley so I was doing ok!”
Danny also played one game for England National XI “It was in 2002 against the Combined Services, so I did not get a cap unfortunately. I played with Gary Holloway, with whom I played at Farnborough and Boro. The match was held at RAF Uxbridge and it was such a thrill putting on the England kit and lining up for the National Anthem before the game”.
In May 2002, Danny’s association with Graham Westley began when he signed for Farnborough Town. Danny played 25 games in total for the Hampshire outfit scoring 5 goals in the process. Most memorable was the FA Cup run of that 2002/2003 season that saw Danny named as player of the 3rd Round proper after score a brace against Darlington to set up a ‘home tie’ against Arsenal at Highbury, a game Town lost 5-1.
A week after the Highbury game (Feb 03), Graham Westley was appointed manager at Stevenage Borough and immediately signed seven of his Farnborough team including Danny. The other six for the record were Nathan Bunce, Justin Gregory, Michael Warner, Steve Watson, Barry Laker and Gary Holloway.
Boro, at the time were in grave danger of relegation sitting in 21st spot and 6 points away from safety, so the move for Danny was on the face of it was a calculated risk but he moved to North Hertfordshire full of confidence “It (Boro) was a potentially huge club by non-league standards who were clearly under-achieving that season. Some great players were there – Jason Goodliffe, Sam McMahon, Simon Travis & Simon Wormull would have walked into any Conference team at the time. We knew we would stay up”.
It was a unique situation in footballing terms with so many players joining Stevenage from the same club en masse “obviously the boys we joined were very wary at first – as you would expect, but I like to think that I quickly established good relationships with all of the lads who stayed. Graham’s training regime was probably a shock to the original Boro players, but we were used to it! He basically ‘beasted’ everyone with fitness sessions in the first month”!
The history books show that Boro, following the appointment of Graham Westley and the influx of new players finished the 2002/2003 season in a respectable 12 place securing 52 Conference points in the process – a remarkable feat given the position in February of that season.
Danny made his debut at home against Morecambe on 8th February 2003 which ended in a 1-1 draw with Justin Richards on the score sheet for Boro that day. Danny didn’t have to wait too long to make his mark scoring his first goal against Hereford at Edgar street a week later in a 2-2 draw with fellow Farnborough transferee Barry Laker being the other scorer .
Talking about his scoring exploits for Boro starting with his first goal at Hereford, Danny commented “Jamie Pitman nudged it over the line but it was definitely already going in! I got 5 in the first season but just the one in the second season where I had about four injuries and only started about 18 games. My favourite goal was a header at home to Dagenham (2002/2003 season) when they were on a big unbeaten run. Simon Travis put in a great cross from the left and I beat Tony Roberts with a bullet header”. For the record Boro won the game 2-0 with the other Boro scorer that day being Anthony Elding.
Danny picks this game as his most memorable in a Boro shirt “I loved the home game with Dagenham in 2003-03, in which I scored (mentioned above). We also had a real humdinger at their place at the start of 2003-04. The atmosphere that day was awesome. I think my best individual performance was at Exeter when Steve Watson got sent off in the first half, although we lost it to a late goal.”
Danny talking about his team mates and travelling to away games recalls one particular incident involving the larger than life goalkeeper Lionel Perez – “Graham used to mix us up so we got to know different people, but I remember when we went to La Manga in pre-season 2003, I roomed with Lionel Perez, who liked to walk around the room naked singing very loudly! I was basically on tea duty for the week! I loved listening to his stories of having played with Zidane, or when he played in the Premier League. Lionel was an amazing character – I went to see him in hospital after he broke his leg and it looked horrific, but he was laughing and joking away like normal”.
When asked to pick the best player of his era at Boro there is little hesitation from Danny “I loved playing with Sam McMahon; I felt we played very well together for a short period of time. His differences with Graham were obvious, and I was gutted when he left. I also need to mention Anthony Elding, who was exceptional in my time at Boro. I had never seen a player strike the ball so cleanly with both feet. His confidence was sky high back then”.
When asked about individuals that he has played against in his career Danny commented “At my time at Boro, Daryl Clare at Chester was phenomenal. In my career, I love the fact that I can say I played against the great Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira”.
Danny has some interesting insights to the best teams he played against in a Boro shirt “Tottenham in the pre-season friendly was the best but In terms of the best non-league team, as much as it pains me to say it, Martin Allen’s Barnet team were excellent, as were Mark Wright’s Chester”.
Danny’s time at Boro coincided with the team moving to a full time basis although throughout his spell at Boro he remained on a part time contract “I found it tough in 2003-04 as Buncey and I were the only part-time players in a full-time team; I know there were some mutterings early on that I hardly trained and then I’d play on the Saturday. We’d train on a Tuesday night, while everyone else did Monday, Thursday and Friday mornings as well. I also had to do one-to-one training sessions with Graham closer to home once in a while. That was very hard!
Whenever I was on school holidays I’d be full-time with the club, but it wasn’t the same. We would often meet the boys at the hotel on a Friday evening before an away game so we would miss the banter on the coach on Friday. At the end of the season Graham offered me a full-time deal but I was working at a top private school and could not afford to leave such a good job”.
Danny is still in contact with a number of key individuals from his time at Boro “I am still in contact with Graham and Ron Berry (kit man). The rest – only on Facebook – lots of ex-teammates are friends on that. I bumped into Jason (Goodliffe) and Steve Watson at different times last season as my Fulham academy side played against their sons at different academies. I’m also meant to be playing a few vets games with Watto before Easter”.
Danny like other interviewees before him is not surprised at the recent rise of Boro commenting “Not really, given Graham’s drive, Phil Wallace’s backing, the club’s organisation as well as the support of the fans. If I’m honest, I suspect that one more promotion may be a jump too far, but I’m delighted that the club is a respected League One club now”.
Danny has been back to watch Boro a number of times since his departure “I’ve seen Boro win the FA Trophy at Wembley (the second time!) and play at Tottenham and Reading in the FA Cup in recent seasons. I was at Boro for the first leg of the Conference play- off semi final against Hereford. I was also at the home FA Cup game against Spurs last season”.
Reflecting on his time with Stevenage “I loved the first season and played really well. I started the second season like a train, but got injured before Christmas and did not feature much in the second half of the season. I would have loved to have been full time all of the time, but my job was too good to leave”.
He would be liked to be remembered by the Boro Faithful as being “a hard-working, goal-scoring, team player. I am proud of the fact that I worked my way up from being a kid in what is now Step 5 to the Conference where I know I held my own”.
|Place of Birth||Sidcup|
|Nick Name||“I didn’t have one – only DC I guess”.|
|Boro Career||2002/2003, 2003/2004|
|Boro shirt Number||“18. I wore 7 at Crawley but Steve Watson had that sewn up at Farnborough so I took 16 (1+6…). Both 7 and 16 were taken at Stevenage so I took the vacant 18 shirt”.|
|Superstitions||“I came out of the tunnel second in the queue; I always came in from the warm up first, 20 minutes before kick-off to sort my pads, socks & boots”.|
|Influence on Career||“My parents”|
After leaving Boro, Danny didn’t let the grass grow under his feet with a varied career making the transition from player to coach – Carshalton Athletic (2004), Bromley (2005) Tooting and Mitcham (2006), Tooting and Mitcham (Coach)(2008), Brentford FC U14/15 Head Coach and Assistant Youth Team Coach (2009/10), Crystal Palace U14’s Head Coach (2010/2011) Fulham FC U13 Head Coach (2011/2012), Walton Casuals (Manager ) 2012 and Director of Sport – Danes Hill School.
“Basically I followed Billy Smith and George Wakeling from Carshalton to Bromley, then Tooting (with lots of success – two London Cups, a Surrey Cup, a Kent Cup and two promotions) until I retired at Tooting & Mitcham aged 31 with back, knee, ankle and neck issues. I then managed the Tooting youth team for a season (one of my boys, Michail Antonio now plays at Sheffield Wednesday). Billy then asked me to coach the first team, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but training facilities were limited and I became frustrated.
I left to coach at Brentford where I took the U14s and 15s and did well, so I ended up assisting Darren Sarll (now Boro Head of Youth) with the Youth and Reserve teams as well. I learnt so much from watching Darren and Terry Bullivant the then 1st team coach. I moved on to Crystal Palace to take their U14s and had a great year, but I got a new job at a school in Surrey and could not make training in South East London; I was grateful when Fulham subsequently offered me a job. I learnt so much there in a fabulous environment, but it was hugely time consuming (4 times a week) and I have 3 kids now so I stopped in the summer.
I needed to coach adults for the A Licence, so I started coaching at Chipstead. The manager resigned and they brought ex-Boro player John Hamsher in as manager; he had his own coach so I went to my local club, Walton Casuals who were bottom of the same league (Ryman South). About 6 weeks into my time here, the manager was sacked and the chairman (Tony Gale the ex West Ham player) gave me the job out of the blue! It’s been really hard work getting new players in and letting others go, but we’ve just climbed off the bottom so we are moving in the right direction! (3rd in the form table at the time of writing)!
In terms of my full-time job, I’m Director of Sport at Danes Hill School, a co-educational preparatory school in Oxshott, Surrey”.
Danny still has ambitions in the game “I want to coach / manage at as high a level as I can, whether at youth team or senior level. I’d love to work full-time at a pro club’s academy, but the salary just isn’t enough for me to justify doing it. I also want to complete my A Licence”!
“I have great experience of youth coaching now (12-16), but I really love coaching adults and in the 18-21 age group. I think I’m a good communicator so hopefully I get my points across! Tactically I’m far more aware from having worked with Darren Sarll as well as on my A Licence, so I enjoy that aspect of the game. I’m always asking more experienced coaches and managers for advice – you never stop learning in this game!”
Danny has had such a varied career and draws inspiration from a number of his ex managers “I have picked up bits from all my ex managers. Graham Westley managed me at the highest level I played at and in a professional environment. His drive was phenomenal and the belief in me he showed spurred me on to achieve more. Billy Smith and George Wakeling were inspirational managers working on a small budget – something I’m getting used to now! Their advice is invaluable. Graham Pearce was tactically excellent as a coach so he had a big influence on me too”.
In terms of Style “Obviously it would be great to emulate Graham’s success! In terms of playing style, Billy Smith loved us to pass and move at pace at Crawley”.
The Stevenage FC History Website would like to thank Danny for his time in the completion of this interview and wishes him well for his future career in Football.