PIANO pushers and piano players.
The phrase is a running joke amongst the Hartlepool United camp but Simon Walton says he is happy to fall into the “pushers” category as long as the flair players do the business up the other end of the pitch.
While Walton is more used to coming off the field battered and bruised, he said it is refreshing to see the young players flourish this season – with 19-year-old Luke James in particular grabbing the headlines after netting 14 goals.
He is pleased to see the more attack-minded players twinkle in the pressure cooker of Sky Bet League Two.
Walton told SportMail: “There is a running joke about piano pushers and piano players at the club and I come under the piano pusher category at the minute.
“I come away with cuts, bruises and gashes in my ankles, while I let the so-called flair players get on with it.
“It is refreshing to see the young lads express themselves though without the pressure and the gaffer takes a massive hand in letting the young players flourish and to give them that game time.”
Leeds-born Walton is one of the elder statesmen of the Pools squad despite being only 26 and he is enjoying playing alongside the younger players, with 17-year-old Brad Walker his regular central midfield partner.
Walton says as much as the young pros can learn off the older players like him, Andy Monkhouse and Sam Collins, they too can still learn a lot from their younger colleagues.
“I can learn off the younger players as they can learn off us,” said the former Leeds United midfielder.
“The old saying about young legs – sometimes we need them.
“It is one of the best set of young players that I have ever been involved in.
“There are five or six that could easily go on to bigger and better things and as long as they are willing to learn and to keep going they will be fine.
“Inconsistency is a thing with young players but luckily for us most of them have stepped up this season when needed and are thriving.
“The more games you get, the better they are going to be and it is enjoyable watching the young players come on.”
Walton has experienced a lot during his career and he is still three-and-a-half years short of his 30th birthday.
Pools is his 10th club, with Walton turning out for the likes of Leeds United, Queens Park Rangers, Blackpool, Charlton and Plymouth Argyle since turning pro in 2003.
The 6ft 1ins midfield enforcer is capable of making a crunching tackle but also picking a long-range pass and switching play.
He is enjoying being back in the Pools starting XI after Hartlepool-born Matty Dolan returned to parent club Middlesbrough after his loan deal finished in January.
Walton has taken the opportunity with both hands – impressing Pools boss Colin Cooper and fans alike with his recent performances.
The only blot on his recent copy book was the 2-1 defeat at Wycombe Wanderers last weekend, when Matt McClure evaded him to freely head home the winner.
“I have enjoyed the recent spell of matches I’ve played,” added Walton who signed for Pools in the summer of 2012.
“Since Matty [Dolan] went back I have got my chance to get back in the team and the gaffer thinks I have grasped it with two hands.
“I am enjoying it – not the Wycombe game so much – but I am enjoying playing with the group of lads and staff that we have got.”