The result and performance may have been disappointing, but Josh Walker was just delighted to be playing football again after making his debut in Edinburgh’s City’s 3-1 defeat at Elgin last Saturday.
The former Middlesbrough, Aberdeen and England Under-20 midfielder joined City just after New Year. Manager Gary Jardine was careful with his new signing before finally throwing him in for his first competitive action in more than 18 months, last turning out for Indian side Bangaluru FC in May 2015.
Now that he’s finally back doing what he loves, the Geordie wants the games to come thick and fast, starting the with visit of Clyde to Meadowbank tomorrow.
“It was brilliant, honestly, just to be back on the pitch after being out for so long,” he said. “It was a great feeling, obviously disappointing in terms of the result but it was great personally just to be back playing football again. My last competitive game was May 2015 so it was a long time ago. That was out in India so Elgin away was a bit different – at least in terms of the temperature anyway! It was a change but as I say, just great to be back playing.
“You still get that excitement – I was like a kid at Christmas. I’d been looking forward to it so much and now I’ve got it under my belt and have that first 90 minutes out the way. It’s just a great relief more than anything and hopefully now I can go from strength to strength.”
It was probably a surprise to most, including Walker himself, that he lasted the full game having been out for so long. “The gaffer and I had a chat on the Thursday night,” he recalled. “We decided together really that we’d just see how the game went and how I was feeling as the game went on. We were thinking maybe 45 but he asked me at half-time and I said I felt fine. He asked me again after an hour and we just decided to keep me on the pitch and get the minutes under my belt. Hopefully after a few more games I’ll be up to full speed again.
“Surprisingly I felt alright afterwards. I thought I was going to be like the tin man on Sunday but it was okay! I was a bit tired on Monday and Tuesday but I’m back at it now. I’m looking forward to the game.”
Whilst no doubt physically demanding, Walker didn’t exactly struggle through in terms of his performance. Showing an impressive range of passing throughout, his pin-point diagonal ball set up Craig Beattie for City’s goal – an example of the understanding the two had established in their days at Watford.
“Beats has had a great career and he’s an experienced pro,” said Walker of his team-mate. “He just knows where to be and knows where the goal is. If you find him, nine times out of ten he’ll put the ball away. I put the ball over the top for him and he took a great first touch and then with the outside of his foot he just slotted it. You knew once he was in he was going to score, he’s that type of player. Hopefully there’ll be plenty more of that from now until the end of the season.”
Those of a black and white persuasion will hope to see more of the same against the Bully Wee tomorrow. City’s successive run of games against the top three is now over, and a first win of 2017 is still sought. Scores elsewhere meant City were bottom of the Ladbrokes League Two table at half-time last Saturday, which illustrates the need to regain their pre-New Year form.
“You’ve got to go in to every game believing you can win,” Walker asserted. “The last three games we’ve played against the top three in the league which has obviously been tough. Now we’re going against sides in and around ourselves and they’re the teams you want to pick up points against.
“I’m used to playing against teams that I’ve never come across before so that’s not something that’s new to me. I’ll learn as we go, one game at a time but I’m sure Clyde is going to be a tough game. I obviously know of Barry Ferguson but I don’t think I played against him when I was at Aberdeen. If I’m being honest I can’t remember, but I don’t think so.
“There’s nothing to really fear in this league and I’m sure a lot of the other teams would say the same. We’ve not won against Clyde yet this season, but they’re not a side that strikes any fear in to us and hopefully our best is enough to get us the three points.”