THE BOB JOHNSTON PODCAST
By Bob Johnston
May 4, 2020
SEASON
1
EPISODE
10
BBC Contributor & Retired CEO of the English Football Association – David Davies, OBE

David Davies hosted BBC's Newsnight (equivalent of hosting NBC or CBS nightly news) and served as CEO of the UK Football Association. He is also an OBE - Order of the British Empire - which is an order of “chivalry." David grew up in Euston Station, London, which is similar to growing up near Penn Station in NYC. It’s a very busy city neighborhood. His Mum and Auntie sold sandwiches at the back of the station.

David cut his teeth in journalism as a long-haired youth in the 60s, covering the so-called ‘troubles’ in Belfast. After his work in Belfast, David spent a number of years at the BBC, interviewing everyone from prime ministers to CEOs for Newsnight and other BBC TV shows. He then moved to the UK Football Association, further launching him as one of the most recognizable figures in the UK.

David’s “chivalrous" work includes staging a Game of Peace in the Olympic Stadium in Kabul, Afghanistan to launching anti-racism and disability awareness in sports campaigns, and a lot more. David is truly a wonderful human being and uses humor like no other.

David Davies, OBE - Order of the British Empire - which is an order of chivalry - is a legend in the UK and European sports world and a familiar name, given his time with  BBC TV, working on some of their biggest shows such as Newsnight and Songs of Praise.

David grew up in Euston Station, London, which is similar to growing up near Penn Station in NYC, as a comparison.  it’s a very busy city neighborhood and his Mum and Auntie sold sandwiches at the back of the station. David cut his teeth in journalism as a long-haired youth in the 60s, living in Belfast covering ‘troubles.' If you are not familiar, the troubles were a series of rifts (that got violent) between nationalists who desired to remain under British rule and  unionists wanted to break off and unite with the rest of Ireland.

After his work in Belfast, David spent another 15 years in journalism in the UK for BBC TV before moving to the English Football Association as their head of communications. He rose through the ranks to eventually become CEO and, by most accounts, he was the most powerful voice of the national sport. David has also done advisory work for the International Olympic Committee and FIFA World Cup and has his hand in a number of charitable initiatives ranging from staging a game of peace in the Olympic Stadium in Kabul, Afghanistan to anti-racism in sports campaigns in the UK to disability awareness, and more.

These are the very sound reasons why he was honored with the Order of the British Empire for his chivalry. David is truly a wonderful human being and uses humor like no other. I hope you enjoy the conversation with David Davies as much as I did.

SELECTED QUOTES
School days are the best days of your life."
– certainly not the case in my life!
I covered stories about politics, crime, education, sports and God. Occasionally you had a story covering all at the same time."
– On cutting his teeth at BBC interviewing prime ministers, leaders of sports and others
They’ll hate you within three months and you’ll hate them within two months."
– Advice he got when joining the UK Football Association and eventually running the national sport of the UK
EPISODE MARKERS

00:40 Minute Marker
Growing up in Euston Station (London) as a kid
His Mum and auntie sold sandwiches at the back of Houston Station

3:15
Cutting his teeth as radio presenter at University of Sheffield
Learned how to talk to politicians and sports folks

7:10
Having knowledge of politics was very helpful when going into sport

7:30
On being a long-haired English youth living in Belfast, Northern Ireland in the 1960s and covering the ‘troubles’ there

10:40
Transitioning into the world of sport
Joining the UK Football Association as a communications specialist

18:40
One of the lessons coming out of COVID-19 may be that we play too much (frequency) and have too high expectations of our players
What it looks like for UK clubs coming out of COVID-19, particularly since some of the clubs are feeling a serious budget crunch

21:40
Do not underestimate the damage to the advertising industry in sport
Nobody had prepared for this obviously despite Bill Gates and others discussion this type of situation

23:30
Greatest failure was never getting ‘sacked’ (fired) from the UK Football Association because it’s quite a lucrative thing to get sacked

25:15
Difference between running a sports team and a top corporation is the level of scrutiny 24/7 in sports
Royal Family and Government on holiday in August put pressure on football to keep the citizens engaged

27:35
Humor, properly used , is an underused asset in public life, sports, politics and elsewhere

31:15
On sport as a great way to see the world and experience other cultures

32:30
On having a serious illness and using travel as a recuperation tool Going to Antarctica makes him really how small and insignificant we are really are

34:45
On living in a converted cowshed

GUEST FOOTNOTES
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