BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
JAMIE WALKER admits he breathed a sigh of relief when his yellow card for diving against Rangers was rescinded – after fearing he would develop a reputation as a con artist.
The 23-year-old was booked by referee John Beaton after hitting the turf under a challenge from Gers man Jason Holt during the Jambos’ 2-0 defeat at Ibrox earlier this month.
However, replays showed there was clear contact on the edge of the box and that decision was quashed by the SFA.
Hoops skipper Scott Brown subsequently labelled Walker a cheat and said he should be competing a for a diving gold at the Rio Olympics, while he was handed a two-match ban for conning the referee. Ironically, the official in question was, again, Mr Beaton.
However, Walker feels vindicated by this latest decision.
“I was pleased to see my yellow card rescinded,” the young winger said. “I don’t want to get that reputation.
“It was a clear foul and I think anyone could see that, even the players on the pitch could see it at the time.
“I don’t think [the SFA] could have come to any other decision.
“I didn’t think, ‘here we go again’ because I knew I’d been fouled. When you’re running at defenders at pace the slightest thing can knock you off balance.
“There was a moment in the match against Partick Thistle when Robbie Muirhead was fouled but, because he tried to stay on his feet, he didn’t get anything for it. It’s that old thing about being ‘too honest’ counting against you.
“If you go to ground, you are not always diving and I think the referees recognise that.”
Walker has found immediate favour under new manager Ian Cathro, starting both of Hearts’ fixtures against Rangers and Partick Thistle.
It has been a baptism of fire for the young coach, losing 2-0 at Ibrox before seeing his side jeered off a full-time following last weekend’s meek 1-1 draw at Tynecastle.
However, ahead of today’s trip to face Dundee, Walker is adamant Cathro is taking baby steps towards building a side in his own image – a prospect which excited the former Scotland under-21 star – and has urged supporters to be patient.
“Sometimes when a manager comes into a new club it’s because a team hasn’t been doing well,” he continued. “That wasn’t the case here so he hasn’t tried to change too much.
“The team had been playing well so he’s trying to put his own ideas across without changing lots. He will need time to do that. He wants a team that passes the ball and is dominant in games and that is something I want to be a part of.
“I am enjoying playing under him. He wants me to get on the ball and try and make things happen. That’s an exciting challenge for me.
“The fans, I hope, will realise it will take time for the ideas to settle in. If they are patient then hopefully we can repay them.”
And Walker hopes a triumph at Dens Park will give the travelling Jambos plenty to cheer about after they vented their spleens in Gorgie last Saturday.
“That kind of reaction doesn’t help the players sometimes because it can affect those on the park,” he added.
“We don’t need extra tension but, as players, we need to deal with that and hopefully the fans can get behind us over the next couple of games.”