Tyler Walker – A Love Story

Courtesy Graham Burrell

Yep, it’s happening. Lincoln City have signed Tyler Walker on a free transfer following his release from Coventry City.

I’ll file that under ‘words I never thought I’d write’. Tyler Walker is a Lincoln City player. It’s a high-profile signing, a statement of intent that few thought we’d really pull off. It’s a love story that has twisted and turned more than Romeo and Juliet, only this one (hopefully) has a happy ending.

It all started in 2017/18, believe it or not. We played Forest in a friendly and Walker looked outstanding. I recall hearing people saying ‘I wouldn’t mind that Walker’ as we left the ground. That was six years ago, and oh, how he has teased us since then. In 2017/18 he played 12 times for Forest in the Championship, bagging three goals. He moved to Bolton later in the season, before returning to Forest.

Courtesy Graham Burrell

That summer, 2018/19, we were in for him. Staff who were at the club at the time told me as much. He was our first choice on loan, but Mansfield had money, and their package was more attractive than ours. Tyler liked us, I was told. We liked him, even after he scored the winner against us in the Checkatrade Trophy group stage game. We liked him so much we went back in for him the following season after we won the league. This time, he returned our warm embrace.

What a time to be alive. Tyler Walker up front for Lincoln City guaranteed goals. They flowed, braces against Fleetwood and Sunderland sticking in my mind. There was a wonderful effort against Ipswich as we won 5-3, six in five games going through January. Even a manager change didn’t derail his efforts, but Forest did. They recalled him, resulting in heartbreak. In his place, we loaned Tyreece John-Jules, which felt like replacing your Ferrari with a Mondeo Ghia.

Courtesy Graham Burrell

The summer rolled around, and he’d been used sparingly at Forest. A move to Coventry followed, for a fee, and we thought our love affair with Tyler was over. Not so – winter 2021 brought fresh rumours that we wanted him back here. Portsmouth and Danny Cowley wanted him, we wanted him as well. I’m told it was close, really close, but in the end, we went with John Marquis as we needed a loan spot open. Tyler went to Pompey, but his time there was not happy – he got one in nine starts.

He went back to Coventry, and there were rumours he’d been seen at the ground watching us in action. They were probably just that, rumours, and when he tore his ACL in October, fans feared the worst. It wasn’t a long layoff, a small tear that kept him out a couple of weeks. Sadly, he didn’t find himself firing at Coventry, and was soon on the free agent list.

Courtesy Graham Burrell

That brings us to this summer. The feeling I got was we were signing a loan striker, but (and it’s a big but) we’d make an exception for one player. A 26-year-old who bagged 14 league goals in 26 starts for us. A player we’d courted and romanced, a player who had broken our hearts and who we still had a fondness for. In the post-Covid era, he has been the one true love fans have yearned for, and ached to see back in a Lincoln City shirt.

Gabrielle once sang, ‘dreams can come true’. There are many Lincoln City fans who will feel that is absolutely the case this evening. Now it’s up to Tyler to help us live the dream.