JACK Walton is due to make his 50th Barnsley appearance tonight but is more focused on salvaging some pride from a miserable season.
The Reds visit fellow Yorkshire club Huddersfield Town from 7.45pm with anything other than a win ensuring relegation. Goalkeeper Walton, who joined the Reds academy at 15, has played under eight different head coaches on his way to a half-century of games for the club.
He told the Chronicle: “It is a good milestone. I have been here quite a long time now, so I would have hoped to have made it sooner. I have kept my head down, worked hard and, on a personal note, it will be good to hit that milestone.”
Barnsley’s home loss to Peterborough on Monday left them 11 points from safety with four games remaining and very little realistic chance of survival.
“We knew how important that game was, especially at home.
“That sums up football, we had so many chances but the game didn’t go to plan. It was a very dark day and we were gutted.
“It’s out of our hands and we can’t control what happens. But we can control what we can do. For us, the last games are an opportunity, especially at Huddersfield on TV, to show what we are and what we can do. We are not happy with the situation but that can’t be changed now. But we have to go out and show pride. Nobody wants a relegation on your CV, we have to take accountability.
“We’re in this situation, we have to accept it and learn from it. I don’t think words can really describe what we feel like at the moment. You can probably understand what the feeling is like.
“We are a young group but we can’t use that as an excuse. Quite a few of us have played a lot of games.”
Walton was first choice for the first half of last season before being replaced by Brad Collins who started 61 successive league matches then picked up a shoulder injury at Millwall last week which is likely to keep him out for the season.
Walton came on in London then started the next two matches, his first league action for 15 months.
“On a personal note it’s great to be back out there. I haven’t had much gametime in the last 12 months so to get a few games in in a short space of time’s been good. Obviously it’s been difficult with the results.
“I have had to be patient.
“But I understood from 15 or 16 that, as a goalkeeper, you will be in or out.
“But when you are out, you have a massive role.
“People don’t understand how important being a number two is. You have to understand both roles and make sure that whichever role you have, you have to do it right. It’s part and parcel of football. I have picked a position only one person can play.
“You can’t play another position. I have been pushing Brad hard to be as good as he can and I think he has played really well.”