SIMON Walton admits he could not see an end to a “horrible” first six months at Hartlepool United – but now he is ready to spearhead a promotion campaign.
Signed on a free transfer from Plymouth Argyle 12 months ago, the former £1m teenager arrived with a big reputation and even bigger ambition.
The former Leeds United man talked of a return to Championship football and, during pre-season at least, made an impressive start.
But Walton lost his form entering the campaign proper and soon became the subject of terrace boos.
The 25-year-old, however, managed to win over those same supporters during the second half of the season and, despite relegation, emerged from his first year at Pools with some credit.
And, with that experience in mind, Walton insists he is determined to hit the ground running when the League One season gets underway in early August.
“It was horrible my first six months,” he reflected with SportMail.
“I wasn’t enjoying it – I was bewildered really.
“When I signed I was excited and I was so looking forward to it.
“I came here looking up, everything was positive and I actually had a decent pre-season.
“But I could not believe how it started for me after that – I could not see an end to it.”
The arrival of the New Year, however, did signal a change in fortune for the Yorkshireman.
He won a place at the heart of the midfield under John Hughes and his performances picked up.
“I did well to turn it around,” he said.
“I enjoyed it a lot more and I was happier with how I was playing.
“But I need to start again now in League Two next year.
“When I first came I said I wanted to kick on in my career and it didn’t work for one reason or another.
“I wanted to be a League One or Championship player.
“Hopefully that can still be the case and we can have a successful season.”