FC Halifax Town: Season with Shaymen was my toughest in football, says Walker

Football - FA Cup - FC Halifax Town v Guiseley. Sam Walker
Football - FA Cup - FC Halifax Town v Guiseley. Sam Walker

Sam Walker has no regrets over his time at Halifax, despite describing his season at The Shay as his toughest in football.

The Salford midfielder scored in the 2-2 draw against Town on Tuesday and is an ever-present for the club this season.

Walker was offered a year’s contract to stay at Halifax but opted to join Salford to be closer to his family.

Walker scored five goals in 26 appearances for Town last term, but often found himself out of the team, a situation he wasn’t used to in previous campaigns.

“I learned a lot from last season,” he said. “It was probably the toughest season I’ve had in football.

“Neil (Aspin) signed me, pre-season was looking good, I was on all the set-pieces, I was penalty-taker, he wanted to play through midfield.

“Then it all seemed to change overnight and I found myself in the cold.

“It wasn’t until the sixth week of the season that I got brought on at Wrexham when we’re 2-0 down.

“Every time I got over one hurdle and I felt like I was kicking on, something would pull me back again.

“I think we had an 11 or 12 game unbeaten run under Jim (Harvey) and I played in all those games.

“Then I wasn’t well for the Welling game, so I missed that and found myself back in the cold.

“Then when I did play he had this thing about bringing certain players off after 70 minutes.

“I’m thinking ‘I’d love to get 90 minutes, I feel I’m playing well enough to be staying on’, but the changes he made on that run were effective so I think he just stuck with it.

“A lot of the Halifax fans had questioned my fitness and that was never the case. That was frustrating because I couldn’t put my point across so that when people think ‘he can’t do 90 minutes, he’s a 60-minute man’, it would get to me.

“But I learned so much from that year. It put me in a place I’d never been in before so I think I’ve matured from it.

“I enjoyed it, there were some great lads and we were in a tough spot for most of the season.

“There was no real consistency - we had three managers, more than 30 players used.

“The best stability we had was the final third of the season under Jim.

“It wasn’t the greatest season but we had the cherry on top of a bad season in going to Wembley, and I played a part after being injured for six weeks.”

On Halifax’s current crop, Walker’s verdict was: “Hard to play against.

“I’ve played against Tom Denton for years and it’s the same thing - he’s a one-man wrecking ball.

“He’s the nicest lad with it, but he’s hard to handle.

“There’s other good players in there - I’ve seen the goal Peni (Richard Peniket) scored at Telford- quality.

“You look at Hibbsy (Jake Hibbs) and he’s come on another year.

“They’re a really good team and they will be there or thereabouts.

“You’ve got Jordan Burrow on the bench - scored loads of goals last season in a struggling team.

“He’s up there with the best strikers I’ve ever played with and for one reason or another he doesn’t seem to be getting a fair crack of it.

“I hope it turns for him because he’s a great player and I think he’s absolutely wasted being sat on the bench.”

Salford have risen to national prominence after featuring in two series’ of the BBC TV documentary “Class of ‘92”.

“I think they dramatise it a bit,” said Walker. “The managers don’t always ball and shout.

“They’re two of the best managers I’ve worked with. Their man management skills are second-to-none.

“They know what each player individually needs. They send you out with a game plan and they try and play the right way.

“But stuff like that is boring. People don’t want to watch that.

“They want a bit of action and entertainment.

“Week in, week out the gates are building but there’s a real family feeling to the club.

“I remember playing here probably 10 years ago and the same people are still here now at the club.”

Walker is confident Salford can maintain the form that has put them in second place in the National League North.

“There’s a great changing room in there and there’s a hunger to do well,” he added.

“We’ve just gone about our own thing and pulled some results together. now people are taking notice.

“I don’t think we’re the finished article yet and we’re always trying to get better.

“The new lads are still bedding in but if we can use the good start we’ve had as a foundation there’s no reason we can’t be there come the end of the season.”