Ipswich Town: Christian Walton’s Plymouth Argyle past

06:00 September 23, 2022

Christian Walton hits a career milestone in a fitting place.

The Ipswich Town goalkeeper will play the 200th league appearance of his career this weekend, in the stadium where he dreamed of making his first.

His professional debut actually came at White Hart Lane, Tottenham, in October 2014 before a Championship arc at the AMEX Stadium in Brighton a week later.

But it was at Home Park that the 26-year-old dreamed of playing in his youth.

Christian Walton returns to boyhood club Plymouth this weekend
– Credit: Ross Halls

The Town No.1 was born in Cornwall and was a season ticket holder at Plymouth for seven years, during which time he signed for the club’s youth system and remained there until moving to Brighton in 2013.

His footballing idol at the time was Romain Larrieu, the French goalkeeper who spent more than a decade at Plymouth

“He was my favorite goalie and I lived for him, really,” Walton previously told the Blue Monday Podcast. “I did school projects on Romain Larrieu and was fanatical about him like any kid with football.

“When I was about five or six years old I drew a picture of him and gave it to him after a game and invited him to my house to play football. He came back a week later and we We played football in the garden. It was mental. He stayed for a roast dinner.

“Then when I was 16 he was still a goalkeeper and became Plymouth’s goalkeeping coach so it all came full circle.”

Walton left without playing a senior game for Plymouth but eventually represented Argyle, returning on loan in 2015 and appearing at Home Park three times for his boyhood club.

Walton has won two of the three club games he has played against Argyle since, the only blemish being a 2-1 loss to the Paul Cook-led Blues 11 months ago.

“They were the closest club to me when I was growing up in Cornwall, about an hour’s drive away,” Walton said of his affiliation with Plymouth.

“I had a season ticket there when I was younger before I got into the U18 team and I couldn’t go to games anymore.

Romain Larrieu, Plymouth Argyle goalkeeper

Romain Larrieu was Christian Walton’s idol growing up
– Credit: PA

“I still follow them and it’s a bit strange to play against them a few times a year now.”

Walton’s previous 199 league appearances have been filled with clean sheets, 71 of them to be exact, including 19 since he swapped Brighton for Portman Road last August.

There were other successes too, including promotion to the Championship with Wigan in 2017/18 and winning the League One Golden Glove award the same season, after a standout year that included 19 sheets. clean in just 31 games.

Walton wants those two honors back this season, in an Ipswich shirt, and already has five clean sheets to his name in nine games. It all added up to leave his team at the top of the table, ahead of this weekend’s clash with the third-placed team in the division.

The qualities Walton brings to this Ipswich side are much discussed and, already, see him discussed in the same breath as some of Ipswich’s best goalkeepers of the last 20 years.

RH3 - Sheffield Wednesday v Ipswich Town 170922

Walton makes his 200th league appearance this weekend
– Credit: Ross Halls

The main comparisons are with Poland’s Bartosz Bialkowski, a popular figure who has won three consecutive Player of the Year awards in the last three years in charge of Mick McCarthy.

He was capable of spectacular saves on a weekly basis, in a Championship side perhaps lacking the defensive solidity of one currently trying to force their way out of the third tier.

Walton is capable of making good saves. Of course he is. But it was in other areas of his game that he began to separate himself from others.

Last season it became apparent that the City keeper is extremely effective at catching crosses in tight situations, which is not at the peak of Bialkowski’s skill set, which brings a real air of calm to the line. background from Ipswich.

This season it’s been his kicking that has come to the fore, something Walton has always been strong at but seems to have taken extra steps over the summer. He is able to play from the back and choose passes that few goalkeepers can.

RH12 - Ipswich Town v Bristol Rovers 130922

Walton has impressed since joining Ipswich Town last summer
– Credit: Ross Halls

He will, however, have breathed a sigh of relief when Barry Bannan’s shot from the Hillsborough halfway line bounced off his crossbar, after the keeper’s spot-kick flew straight into the Sheffield Wednesday midfield magician a while ago. one week.

We all watch Walton every week and rightly believe he is the best goalkeeper in League One. I firmly believe it is. Ipswich have done incredibly well to have a player of their ability play at this level.

But, if you mention those feelings publicly, there’s a fan base that quickly responds with their own grievances.

There will be two Plymouth youth products between his sticks at Home Park this weekend, with Michael Cooper lining up for the hosts and making waves at League One level himself.

Indeed, he beat Walton to make the Ligue 1 Team of the Year last season.

“He’s been exceptional, he’s just been on another level,” Plymouth boss Steven Schumacher said of Cooper.

Plymouth Argyle goalkeeper Michael Cooper during the Emirates FA Cup fourth round at Stamford

Michael Cooper is Argyle’s current number 1
– Credit: PA

“He deserves all the recognition and all the awards he’s received, and most importantly, he’s an amazing boy. He’s so calm, so level-headed and he’ll go far.”

Home Park will be packed with Walton’s friends and family this weekend, with the goalkeeper’s loved ones traveling across the country to watch him almost every week.

Many of them will be Argyle supporters at heart, but they will surely be shooting for a win at Ipswich as the Blues look to claim victory against a promotion rival in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

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