Southeastern Rail's managing director David Statham on his love of Crystal Palace, starting the weekend with Dulwich Pakrun, trekking and the power of sport.
What is your sporting passion?
I live in south London, support Crystal Palace and I’m a regular at Selhurst Park – so I’ll be hoping the Eagles soar next season.
I’m also into other sports – ice hockey, field hockey, cricket, fencing, athletics and cycling, particularly the Tour de France. I far prefer watching sports in the flesh than watching on television.
How did you first get into sport?
I wasn’t great at sports at school. My mother was an athlete who specialised in marathon running and would always beat me in races!
I got more into sports when I was an undergraduate at Oxford, and after moving to London I started going to live matches.
My son is also a football fan – his first game, aged six, was a League Cup semi-final in 2012 in which Palace beat Cardiff City 1-0. It was a night game under the floodlights, [club live mascot] Kayla the eagle flew around as the crowd sang “Glad all over”. They had us hooked before a ball had even been kicked.
Do you participate?
I’ve just started taking part in the Dulwich Parkrun – 5km against the clock on a Saturday morning, which is a bracing way to begin the weekend and has a brilliant community atmosphere.
I’ve also done the Three Peaks challenge twice in aid of the Railway Children, which supports vulnerable young people around the world. Further afield, I’ve been a regular skier for 30 years and I love the fresh air and mountains.
As a family, our last skiing holiday was in Sierra Nevada and it was very beautiful being able to look down and see the beaches from the snow-capped mountains. And I’m an enthusiastic trekker – I’ve been to Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Nepal.
Most cherished sporting memory?
The World Athletics Championship in London in 2017 was amazing. I worked at Stratford Station and helped the team there get 11,000 sports fans through the barriers in less than an hour.
A close second would be the first night of the athletics at the 2012 Olympics, which was a memorable week for all Londoners. I remember carrying my son home on my shoulders through such a terrific atmosphere.
What is your greatest hope in sport?
Naturally, to see Crystal Palace in the Champions League, although I’m not holding my breath.
Perhaps more realistically, I’d like to see England host the World Cup – it’s high time that football came home. We’ve got the venues, and we’ve got the right transport links to make it a success.