Notts County v Bradford City: Jamie Walker keen to stick around at a club which has entered his soul

THE LIST of Scottish players who have represented the claret and amber of Bradford City with distinction is a well-respected one.

From John Hendrie to Brian Mitchell, members of that great side who were so desperately unfortunate not to be promoted to the top-flight under Terry Dolan in 1987-88, to David McNiven and - for those with longer memories - John McCole and John Reid.

City’s greatest ever player in Stuart McCall also has Tartan blood and was a regular Scottish international, despite being born in West Yorkshire.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It’s the county which has become 'home' for one of the Bantams’ leading current players in Jamie Walker and his young family.

Bradford City winger Jamie Walker. Picture: George Wood/Getty Images.Bradford City winger Jamie Walker. Picture: George Wood/Getty Images.
Bradford City winger Jamie Walker. Picture: George Wood/Getty Images.

Resident in the picturesque village of Saltaire, the Edinburgh-born fans’ favourite is happy in his home life and has embraced being part of the local community

It helps to explain why City is a club which has entered his soul.

His contract expires next summer, but he’d clearly like to stick around.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Moments during his initial loan spell in the second half of 2021-22 made Walker feel he was not just at any old club.

When he was substituted in the final game of his tantalising spell, against Carlisle in May 2022, he was serenaded with chants of ‘Sign him up’.

City did just that, announcing his permanent arrival from Hearts amid much fanfare at an end-of-season awards night.

With Walker on board, City knocked on the promotion door last term. Alas, it was not to be.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

As with countless others, Walker is experiencing that success at City never comes easy. The chances of that happening this season currently look remote, but no-one is giving up the ghost yet.

Walker said: “I love it here. It’s probably the most settled club I have been at since playing back home.

"I love it and my kids are at school and nursery and I’ve tried to embrace it. We enjoy it and hopefully it’s for a few more years left.

"I live in Saltaire and my son plays for Bingley and I see the fans quite a lot and it’s the usual questions about the football club and I try and be open and honest and give my opinion.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I’ve been here for a few years now and the club are craving a bit of success.

"If I could help them to get that, it'd be fantastic. But we've got a lot of work to do between now and the end of the season to do that."

In his time in Scotland, Walker may not have sampled the intensity of playing for one of the Old Firm - he was in the middle of a saga back in 2017 when he saw a move to Rangers fall through, that said - but few can say that the concept of pressure is alien to him.

He played 240 times for boyhood club Hearts, with the Edinburgh football scene second only to Glasgow in terms of expectation north of the border.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It was useful preparation for his time at City, who will always be a big fish in lower-division circles in the EFL.

Walker continued: “It’s got so many similarities to when I played at home with the big crowds and the big expectations in the league.

"It’s fortunately something I can lean on from my experiences back home. I try to use them to guide me when I am here.

"As you get older, you get used to those experiences a little bit more and use it to my advantage.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

At the moment, there is an understandable sense of dissatisfaction at an underwhelming start to the current campaign which saw former manager Mark Hughes become one of the casualties.

City’s current league position of 18th is poor, embarrassing and unacceptable in equal measure, with Graham Alexander and his players assigned with doing something about in a key run of fixtures between now and the end of 2023.

It represents a time when league tables crystallise. If the Bantams get their act together between now and January, all is not lost.

The opposition for Alexander’s first away fixture at the helm pose a major hurdle to clear, that said.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

City face a Notts County side who have harnessed the momentum which saw them promoted back to the Football League last season following a historic title fight with Wrexham.

It should be no surprise either that Phil Parkinson’s Red Dragons - whose squad includes an undoubted ‘name’ signing in Steven Fletcher - are also looking the real deal this season.

They find themselves safely ensconced in the top seven, but adrift of last season’s beaten play-off finalists in Stockport County.

The presence of Stockport and another well-heeled outfit in Mansfield is a further barometer to the division's strength. It adds to the degree of difficulty facing City.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Walker added: "Financially, there’s a few big clubs who are probably putting a bit of money at it now more than in seasons past.

"There’s even Premier League players dropping down to this level and it’s a lot harder than it’s been for four or five years.

"At the start of the season, we wanted to be up there and with them, but we have left ourselves with a little bit of work to do.

"But I've no doubts in the ability of the playing squad and management staff in that we can get something out of the season. It starts on Saturday and hopefully we can get a positive result.”

Related topics: