Josh Walker being appointed captain of Edinburgh City wasn’t a major surprise in itself, but that he signed a two-year contract extension at the same time certainly raised a few eyebrows.
The former England Under-20 international impressed since signing for Gary Jardine’s team last January and played a big part in them securing SPFL football for another season.
That naturally meant bigger fish were circling, but Walker’s desire was to stay put after City “took a risk” on him. He will remain a part-time player in black-and-white for the foreseeable future – something he himself didn’t truly expect six months ago.
“To be honest when I first came in to Edinburgh, I kind of looked at it as just a short stop to get myself back playing and then go back full-time in the summer,” Walker admitted. “As the season progressed I was really enjoying it and there was a good feel about the club.
“I still have aspirations to play as high as I can and come the end of the season I did have quite a bit of interest and a couple of concrete offers, which was great. It showed people were still watching and keeping an eye out.
“I did look at the offers, but I just felt that the way the club’s going and in terms of things on and off the pitch, at this stage of my life, for the foreseeable future I want to be at Edinburgh City. I’m really pleased it’s done and I’m excited for the season ahead.”
Walker hinted that City’s summer recruitment plans were a factor in his decision, while the carrot of the captain’s armband won’t have hurt their case in persuading him to stay either. “It’s a great honour – to captain anyone really,” he said. “I’ve only been at the club for a short space of time and for them to show the faith in me that they’ve shown is great.
“Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t any loyalty in football anymore, but I just felt I should be loyal here. I really want to be part of something and the players that will be coming through the door in the next week or so show that it’s exciting times ahead. A lot of these lads, in my eyes, are good enough to at least play in the Scottish Championship – I don’t see there being much difference in quality.”
In the departing Dougie Gair - club record appearance holder and goalscorer - Walker is under no illusions he has big boots to fill, although donning the armband won’t be an alien experience. “I was vice-captain at Scunthorpe, but other than that just for England,” he unintentionally yet massively understated. “I was captain of England from under 16s right the way through to 20s, so I captained them probably about 30 times.
“Dougie’s going to be a hard act to follow though. He’s been such a great servant to the club for such a long time and in my eyes he could have definitely played for a lot longer. Him and his partner are having a bit of a life change though and he deserves that. I hope it works out for him over in Dubai. He was great to play with last season and we’ll miss a lot about him around the club off the pitch as well. If I do half the job he’s done then I’ll be doing well.”