IT might not quite equate to the highs of making your debut for boyhood club Leeds United at the tender age of 16, but tomorrow still promises to be a sweet day for Simon Walton nevertheless.
The former Whites midfielder – who memorably made his bow for the club against Derby County at the start of the 2004-05 campaign – will be back to the day job in the realms of fully-fledged competitive football with new club Guiseley, having joined the National League outfit on a short-term deal.
Walton, 28, had been seeking new employers after leaving League Two outfit Crawley at the end of last season and has now linked up with the Lions, having trained and appeared briefly for NCEL Premier outfit Garforth Town at the start of the current campaign.
The experience of Walton, who has made over 250 Football League appearances in a career which has involved stints with United, Charlton, QPR, Plymouth Argyle, Hartlepool United and Stevenage – along with loan spells at Ipswich, Cardiff, Hull City, Blackpool, Crewe and Sheffield United – is likely to prove invaluable for Guiseley, still seeking their first three points of the campaign.
All and sundry hope it will arrive at Nethermoor tomorrow when they host Woking and while Walton, who is the first to admit that he harbours aspirations to return to the Football League, has sampled far grander stages, there are still likely to be a few butterflies if he gets the nod tomorrow.
On a tough spell since leaving Crawley, Walton told the YEP: “It has been really weird, to be fair, and the first time in all my professional life that I have been without a club in 13 years.
“It has been hard being away from it and I am really looking forward to playing competitive football again and what will be will be over the coming weeks and it is great to be back in now.
“It is difficult looking at three or four walls around the gym or running in the street. You do miss that buzz of playing on Saturday or a Tuesday.
“That is the main thing. You can do as much fitness as you want, but you can never replicate the matchday squad.
“I am looking forward to all the stuff that goes with it. Pre-match meals and all the other stuff and fingers crossed, now I am back in, I can stay in. I will take it week by week and see what happens and hopefully help Guiseley to get some points.
“I have averaged nearly 38 games a season, which is not bad for my age and people know what I am about by now.
“I have kept in good shape and I am ready to go now and hopefully things will work out for both sides.”
On his path to Nethermoor, he said: “I had been at Garforth as I know the manager and was just ticking over with training and playing some games.
“But I know someone who knows Locky (caretaker boss Adam Lockwood) and the week before last, they asked if I would be interested in training there and seeing what happened and we sorted something out.
“It is a short-term deal and a non-contract thing and I am still looking to get back into the Football League and the deal in place means that if something comes up and I do well, I can go somewhere if they want me.”
While Walton hopes that his spell at Nethermoor ultimately serves as a pathway back to the Football League, his immediate priority is helping Guiseley to claim some precious points after accruing just one from a possible 24 in a torrid start to the campaign.
Given Guiseley’s parlous position propping up the National League, Walton’s combative qualities in the middle of the park and vast experience are certainly likely to prove a boon for the Lions.
Walton added: “You can be in a stronger position being out of contract as clubs cannot sign players on loan between the windows and hopefully something will come up (in the league).
“If it does, I will consider it and it is doesn’t I will doing my upmost to try and get as many points as possible for Guiseley.
“I went to the game on Saturday and to be fair, we should have won. We kept all the possession and played really well and kept a clean sheet.
“We have had a tough run of games and hopefully there is an opportunity to get some points over the next couple of weeks.”
Meanwhile, Guiseley have completed the signing of young Bradford City striker Reece Webb-Foster on a initial month’s loan, hot on the heels of the capture of Walton.
The Haworth-born teenager, 18 has tasted first-team action with the Bantams and had a brief successful loan spell at Bradford Park Avenue earlier this year where he netted a hat-trick before being recalled by his parent club in April.
The young forward, contracted at Bradford until the end of the 2017-18 season, has made three appearances for the Bantams this season, including a full debut for the club in the recent EFL Trophy home game with Stoke City U23s at Valley Parade.
All told, Webb-Foster has appeared five times for the Bantams, with his debut coming at the tender age of 16 years and 200 days when he came on in the dying stages of the Capital One Cup game at MK Dons almost two years ago.
In the process, he became one of the youngest players to ever represent City.
Bradford Park Avenue’s season is in desperate need of a fix as the Horsfall Stadium side are yet to win, writes Toby Bilton.
Avenue are on a six-game losing streak and, after Tuesday’s 1-0 loss at Boston, they find themselves rooted to the bottom of the table.
However, a win against a struggling Worcester side will see them climb out of the relegation zone.
Elsewhere in the Conference North, high-flying Harrogate Town travel to Alfreton, who have the leakiest defence in the division having conceded 29 goals. Harrogate are, so far, unbeaten.
Halifax Town battled to earn a draw against joint-leaders Salford City in midweek but can get back to winning ways against 19th-placed Stalybridge Celtic at the Shay.
Evo-Stik Premier Division basement-boys Frickley Athletic travel to Hednesford Town aiming to secure their first points of the season.
In Division One of the Evo-Stik league, third-placed Farsley Celtic travel to Trafford looking to keep their unbeaten run intact.
Seventh-placed Tadcaster Albion will leapfrog their opponents, Clithero, with a win, while Brighouse could go top with three points at Mossley.
Ossett Albion host Colne, who have already won twice on the road this season, while Ossett Town travel to Kendal.
With the first round qualifying of the FA Vase taking place this weekend, there are only fives games being played in the Northern Counties Eastern League, across both the divisions.
In Division One, 20th-placed Nostell Miners Welfare are faced with a difficult home encounter against second-placed Hallam.
There is a West Yorskhire derby in the FA Vase as Hemsworth Miners Welfare travel seven miles to Pontefract Colleries.
Pickering Town, Albion Sports, Garforth Town, Glasshoughton Welfare, Selby Town, Knaresborough Town and Liversedge all feature in the Vase at 3pm on Saturday, while Chapel Allerton-based Yorkshire Amateur travel to Bridlington Town on Sunday afternoon.