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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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Review of season: Walker's goal to cherish

LOCAL lad done good Jason Walker has admitted watching the DVD of his FA Cup goal against Premier League Middlesbrough over 100 times, writes Lee Procter.

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JASON’S GEM: Barrow AFC striker Jason Walker celebrates his FA Cup Third Round goal (inset) against Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium in January this year REF: 0464918

The striker’s 80th minute header sent 7,000 Barrow fans into fantasy land when the Bluebirds went to the Riverside in January.

Even now, four months on, the 25-year-old can’t help replaying that special moment over and over again.

Top scorer Walker, who finished the season with a career-best 18 goals, said: “The Middlesbrough goal is the one I remember most, the one I will remember for the rest of my life.

“To score against a Premier League club, it doesn’t get any better than that.

“I must admit, I’ve watched the DVD from that game over 100 times now!”

The Barrow-born forward has enjoyed a tremendous first term in the Blue Square Premier.

Walker’s hottest streak came around the turn of year when, including the goal against Middlesbrough, he hit the back of the net eight times in 12 starts.

Among them was a 25-yard gem at home against Atrincham – a goal which earned him the division’s goal-of-the-month award for December.

It was just reward for the likeable hitman, who just a month earlier was unlucky not to win the same gong with a phenomenal 50-yard lob against Forest Green Rovers.

“If someone would have said at the start of the season that I would get 18 goals, I would have taken it,” said Walker.

“Looking back now though I know I should have scored more goals than that. Don’t get me wrong, 18 is not a bad total, but I should really have got to 20.

“Had I not been harshly sent off at Torquay and banned for four games I might have made it 20, but, like I said, 18 is still a decent return.”

Walker’s other major personal highlight came in February when he and Barrow team-mate Paul Brown made their international debuts playing for an experimental England C outfit in a 4-0 friendly win over Malta under-21s on the Mediterranean island, Brown scoring the opener.

The duo were the first players since Glenn Skivington in 1990 to wear the Three Lions while with Barrow.

“The time I spent with the England team was amazing” said the spring-heeled Walker.

“Pulling on the jersey and standing there while the national anthem was playing, I was just thinking ‘wow.’ I was a bit emotional actually.

“England play in the International Challenge Trophy final against Belgium in a few weeks’ time, but I’m not really expecting to be in the squad, I think the manager will go with the players who got the team this far.”

Of all the Barrow strikers this season Walker was the one – despite a two-month spell spent mainly on the bench during October and November – who featured most regularly in the starting line-up.

Over the course of the campaign he played up front alongside seven different partners – Lee Hunt, Nick Rogan, Paul Tait, David Brown, Wayne Curtis, Lee Steele and Lee McEvilly.

“I have had a lot of striking partners, but I think my favourite is Lee Hunt,” said Walker, who made his 100th appearance for the Bluebirds in the game to forget at Torquay.

“Hunty works his socks off for you and is a good player. Had he scored a goal earlier in the season I think it would have settled him down and he would have gone on to establish himself and score a lot more.

“Hunty is also probably my best mate off the field.”

He added: “The managers were right to drop me for that period earlier in the season. I know I need to be more consistent and that’s something I’ll aim to achieve next season. When I was left out Richard Brodie came in and did really well. I never got to play alongside Brodie which was disappointing, but I respected the two managers’ decision.”

Walker lives in the village of Flookburgh – just round the corner from Barrow AFC legend Colin Cowperthwaite.

Flookburgh hit the headlines earlier this week when it was the epicentre of an earthquake.

Walker was at the gym in Barrow at the time, but said his family members felt it and were “a bit scared.”

Now they know how those Blue Square Premier defenders feel, shaking in their boots as Walker runs towards them!

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