Goalkeeper Mark Walters has encouraged local youngsters to continue putting in the hard graft for their chance to play football at a higher level.

Walters in action against a 'Gers side
Walters in action against a ‘Gers side

“My move into senior football has came at a later stage than is perhaps traditional,” Walters begins, “and maybe at times it has felt as though locals have had to work harder to be noticed and earn the opportunity, given the club has historically tended to source players from elsewhere.

“But with myself and Kieran (Ainslie) signing here over the Summer, it’s proof that hard work will get you to where you want to be. For any youngster looking to progress in the game, I’d say never give up and work for it. If you’re willing to show dedication and commitment to get to the cause, you will be rewarded for it.”

With Walters joining the ‘Gers and ironically becoming one of the side’s more experienced players, he could be forgiven for giving up on his hopes of league football, however he continues:

“I’ve been at Coldstream for five years, and I’m now 29. But when I got that call to do pre-season, it was a no-brainer. Coldstream were great during the move – I spoke to a few of the staff there and they were all very supportive.

“But I was very aware of the risk I was taking. At Coldstream I was virtually guaranteed first-team football. I knew it was a gamble coming to Shielfield and sitting on the bench, trying to work my way into the starting eleven.

“And in honesty, it’s made even harder by the competition Colin (Cameron) has added over the Summer. Kevin (Walker) is a fantastic ‘keeper and displacing him is going to be a big ask.”

But it seems that the taste of first-team football is something that Walters is keen to palate more often however, as he continues:

“It’ll be tough, but I’m up for the challenge. I’m here to break into the first-team and know that I may have to show the same patience I did in waiting for my chance to join the club to do that.

The stopper impressed against Dunfermline
The stopper impressed against Dunfermline

“It was great to get 45 minutes against North Shields & Dunfermline. Those matches were a bit of an eye opener as to the task I faced in honesty. But I felt that when I got the nod for a full 90 against Hibernian that I was able to show the boss and the fans what I’m capable of.”

And while the custodian may not yet be gracing the Shielfield turf, the standard of training and his team mates has been a pleasant surprise to him, as he admits:

“Training here is different class – and that is meant with no disrespect to Coldstream. In this environment it’s easy to see how the coaching team can get more out of me and ensure I’m always pushing Kev.

“I’m confident and feel I have the right attitude and commitment towards training, so I’m hoping that will stand me in good stead when the gaffer picks his team every week.

“The lads are great on and off the park. Considering the bulk of the squad are new to each other, I think we can be really pleased with the start we’ve made.

“The fans play a big part too. The win against Alloa was a great experience, if a bit surreal! Knowing the fans are behind us is helping to give the team that extra bit of confidence, and maybe that was a big part of the reason we battled till the end against them.”

Walters heads to congratulate fellow 'keeper Kevin Walker following our victory against Montrose
Walters heads to congratulate fellow ‘keeper Kevin Walker following our victory against Montrose

Mark finishes on a different note, revisiting the ‘Gers newly improved attitude to the local community as he pays tribute to Berwick Rangers Summer Camp ran by Matty Moor Football Coach over the past three weeks, stating:

“The idea of the Summer Camp is tremendous in my opinion. It’s really helping to give local kids the chance to show off their skills and most importantly enjoy themselves. It’s great to see the club taking such a keen interest and hopefully there’s even more to come!”