FEATURE: Tyler Walker looks forward to achieving goals with Stevenage
PUBLISHED: 09:06 03 September 2016 | UPDATED: 09:06 03 September 2016
As summer turns to autumn one glance at the League Two table from Stevenage’s loyal band of supporters and they could be forgiven for thinking the optimism of pre-season has dissipated as quickly as the fierce August heat.
But waiting at the club’s impressive training facility at Bragbury End for its Friday press conference in cooler danker September conditions convinces you otherwise. The players stride into their place of work purposefully – and with that steely look of determination that all professional footballers have when they know they are fulfilling the dream of every youngster who loves the beautiful game.
Some appear in clutches, others in pairs – but all appear ready for their work, knowing a day of hard graft is required to repair and reboot their disappointing start.
But there is one player who walks in by himself. In any job you can tell the ‘new boy’ as they have that slightly hesitant look. Not in their own capability but a lack of sure-footedness that comes from unfamiliar surroundings.
Tyler Walker looks you in the eye and gives a friendly nod as he passes, a polite courtesy not all footballers across the leagues offer, and one that tells you this is a well-brought up lad.
But his eyes speak of something different. They blaze with a determination to get down to business, and an inner steel indicating a desire to progress his career.
A career that has seen Boro boss Darren Sarll happily snap him up on a season long loan this week to supplement his squad – and to end its misfiring start to the new season.
“I’m looking forward to playing here,” says Tyler. “There’s great set of lads here who have already made me feel welcome. There’s a good spirit here.
“I’d heard Stevenage were interested and I want to play football.
“I want to help the team and want to help what everyone is trying to achieve here. I’m pleased everything went well this week.
“I came here on Wednesday and signed, and then trained with the squad.
“The main aim for me is to play professional football. And if I can’t get that at Forest at the moment then hopefully Stevenage is the best place for me.
“I’d like to think I can bring goals, running at defenders and be able to ‘hurt’ defences between the lines.
“If I was going to describe myself to the fans I would say I’m a goalscorer and I’m quick.
“I’ve been playing for the Forest U21s and played at Burton Albion in League One last season. I also played a few Championship games for Forest at the beginning of last season.”
With Hartlepool at The Lamex this afternoon there is a palpable sense of wanting to banish the travails of August with three points against the visitors from the North East.
As Sarll told me with brutal honesty and typical candour: “There was expectation from July, but August hasn’t been good to us. September gives us a new chance.
“The transfer window is now closed thank god. Deadline day was a chaotic day but I’m really pleased at the business we’ve done.”
Warming to his theme you can the hard-bitten but passionate football man suddenly becomes animated with genuine excitement as he speaks of the young man.
“I’m pleased to bring in Tyler. He comes from a very well-renowned footballing family.
“I first saw him when he was 15. He has very good athletic attributes.
“He’s got real pace. He’s played in the Championship.
“He’s also got ‘clean feet’. By that I mean when he goes through on goal he can shift onto either foot.
“He gives us a little bit of a different dynamic, a mix of different qualities.
“We don’t score enough goals. Fact. So we’ve got to be a little more threatening and Tyler is someone we’ve ‘courted’ for 18 months so he’s a very important signing for us.”
As Sarll alluded Tyler is from blue blood. Footballing royalty. Pace and athleticism are hard-wired into his DNA.
On the drive to Bragbury End before the press conference my mind wandered back to seeing his father in action many times in the flesh for Tyler’s Alma Mata Nottingham Forest, and 59 caps for England.
The player in question? Des Walker of course.
Now there was a centre-half, football fans from the 90s will tell you.
Quick and strong, commanding in the air, blessed with a good technique and a superb temperament. ‘You’ll Never Beat Des Walker’ rang the old terrace song.
But the burden of being the son of a World Cup semi-finalist and East Midlands hero doesn’t appear to weigh Tyler down, nor the fact Forest eagerly tied him down to a four-year contract only last year.
Maybe it’s because he has a younger brother, Lewis, in the game, who joined Forest’s eternal rival Derby County from Ilkeston Town in January. Or maybe it’s just because Tyler is a level-headed young man who just wants to progress in this unforgiving game of ours.
“People at Forest advised me when I left it would be good for me to get professional games under my belt. To get the confidence that comes with playing professional football. And to get some goals under my belt to come back to the City Ground a better player.”
Opening up Tyler tells me he’s an Arsenal fan and that it would have been nice to play in the forthcoming League Cup game against the North London giants. But his career comes first. The steely look returns.
With a single mindedness that belies his 19 years he says: “The main part of this move is about my development and Stevenage are the best choice for me and my career – and that comes above anything else, including playing against Arsenal.”
He also admits when he was growing up the player he most admired was Thierry Henry.
As the interview with Tyler draws to an end I thrown out one final question.
It’s a little unfair but I occasionally deploy it just to see the reaction I get when a player mentions a football legend.
Would you say you’re similar in style to him?
Tyler smiles briefly – almost for the first time in the interview which could be attributed as testament to his businesslike nature – before considering his answer carefully for fear of coming across as arrogant or cocky, or even of giving false hope.
He looks me in the eye and says: “I’d love to say yes but I can only look up to someone like that.”
The answer is a good one. It reveals someone who is confident and assured but not overly cocky.
I like him as a player and as I person.
And if Tyler’s sure-footedness in our chat is any indication of his ability on the pitch then so will Stevenage fans.