Family's pride at legacy left behind by designer of iconic Sheffield Wednesday badge

The daughter of the man who designed the iconic stylised Owl badge for Sheffield Wednesday has spoken of the sheer pride she and her brothers have for their father, who has died aged 66.

Thursday, 14th May 2020, 9:20 pm

Robert Walker, then a 19 year old art and design student at Granville College in Rotherham, came up with ‘Ozzie’ in 1973 after Wednesday organised a competition to produce a new badge in a bid to fend of counterfeiters.

The simple design would go on to become one of the most recognisable crests in European football and, aside from a five year break in the mid-to-late 1990s, was used right up until 2016 when current owner Dejphon Chansiri went back to a more traditional badge.

Mr Walker told The Star in May 1973: "I think Ozzie has both an aggressive and defensive look about him. But he's also a pretty wise looking bird. I hope he brings Wednesday lots of luck."

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Art student Robert Walker, pictured in May 1973, after winning a competition to design a new club crest for Sheffield Wednesday

Then general manager Eric Taylor could tell even then how popular the badge would prove to be.

"Ozzie is now well ahead of his time. He will still be popular in 1983 and he will be alive and flying in 1993," Mr Taylor said in The Star. "We decided to get rid of the club crest and produce a new symbol which we could then copyright.

"This is a move which other clubs have made to beat the pirates who constantly use football club badges for their own gain without permission."

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The iconic 'Ozzie' crest on the side of The Kop at Hillsborough, before it was replaced in 2016. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

Though with some adjustments – Ozzie turned yellow in 1984 and, after being dropped for five years, returned inside a crest in 1999 – the badge remains a favourite amongst supporters and Mr Walker’s daughter, Jayne Davison, says ‘it’s really lovely’ to know that her father left behind such a legacy.

“Me and my brothers (Rob and Mark Walker) always had an awareness of it growing up because it was such an iconic design,” said Mrs Davison. “We were really proud to tell people and often they would look at us in disbelief because the badge is so well known.

“We had to get out the old newspaper articles sometimes.”

Mr Walker submitted the design as part of his college coursework but he never received any payment for the piece of work. He was, however, offered something that wasn’t much use to him.

Club owner Dejphon Chansiri changed the Sheffield Wednesday badge to this one in 2016, replacing the iconic stylised owl. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

“He was offered a season ticket but he turned it down,” she said. “He didn’t even like football!”

Mr Walker would go on to work for Rotherham Borough Council in their printing a legal department, designing and producing their official leaflets and brochures.

Upon retiring, Bob, as he was known to his friends, moved onto a houseboat and travelled up and down the waterways of the country.

He had a passion for design and quirkiness, with a fondness for ‘Reliant’ motors – he had a ‘Robin’ a ‘Kitten’ and a ‘Regal’ – and still loved to paint, though Jayne says sadly there are few examples of Mr Walker’s work remaining.

Robert 'Bob' Walker moved to live on a houseboat upon retirning from his job at Rotherham Borough Council

He died on April 22, after suffering an epileptic seizure and his funeral took place last Friday.

The corner flag at Hillsborough featuring the old crest Sheffield Wednesday crest designed by Robert Walker in 1973. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)