Walker | On hat-tricks, a football upbringing and ‘surreal’ experiences

Lowri Walker loves scoring goals, as she has shown with six in the first three games of the new season – but the Wolves midfielder and proud Welshwoman admits it was “surreal” to once hit a hat-trick against her own country.

It was while Aberystwyth born Walker was studying at Wolverhampton University that she achieved the unusual feat, her three goals coming in a 5-0 win for England Universities against Wales Universities.

“It was a strange experience all round,” recalls 23-year-old Walker. “As we were warming up before the game a few of the Welsh girls recognised me because they’d been with me on regional training camps for the Wales junior teams.

“I never got further than the Under-17’s, but some of the girls on the Wales Uni team that day were still involved in the national system.

“That made me want to step up and give a good account of myself, but I certainly didn’t go into the game thinking I’d get a hat-trick. So, it was a bit surreal to do it against my own country, but in a way satisfying as well.”

Walker had a very satisfying time in footballing terms as well as in academia at Wolverhampton University, from where she graduated with a BSc degree in Sports and Exercise Science.

She captained the University women’s football team in the last two years of her degree course, leading them in her final season to a promotion and BUCS (British Universities & Colleges Sport) Cup double.

As well as turning out for the University team Walker was also involved in club football, her playing career having started out as a youngster playing weekly for Bow Street Boys and in tournaments for Aberystwyth Town Girls.

She proved her dedication – and that of her parents – to football when first she joined Shrewsbury Town and then Aston Villa, the journeys from Aberystwyth to each of those clubs proving as demanding as training and playing.

“Getting to Shrewsbury and back home to ‘Aber’ meant a lot of travelling, and even more so to Villa,” says Walker. “It was 120 miles each way and we were doing the journey three times a week.

“I enjoyed it at Villa, but I had some bad luck with injuries. I had a long-term problem with shin splints, but I played as often as I could and in my last game for the club, I scored four goals in a development squad match against Durham.

“Gemma Davies had just joined the club as manager and she told me I needed to get some first team experience, so she spoke to Macca (Wolves manager Dan McNamara) and to start with I came along for some training sessions.

“Straight away I liked being here, I liked the girls and the management team, and I could see the professionalism and ambition at the club. So, it was an easy decision to sign for the club and I’ve loved being here for the last two years.”

The two seasons that Walker has completed at Wolves have both ended in disappointment, just missing out on the National League Division 1 Midlands title and promotion in 2018/19 and then suffering the devastation of last term’s null and voiding due to Covid 19 when promotion was all but wrapped up.

So, it’s third time lucky that the midfielder – who has in fact started the new campaign at left wing-back – is hoping for this time round.

And she is not just hoping but is determined to help her team to promotion after making a tremendous start to the campaign with that six-goal haul – which included a hat-trick in Wednesday evening’s 5-0 win at Sporting Khalsa.

Big wins had already been chalked up against Leafield Athletic and Solihull Moors and Walker, now studying for a Masters degree in physiotherapy at the University of Birmingham, says: “It’s great that I’ve got my name on the scoresheet a few times, but most importantly we’ve started really well as a team.

“The way last season ended was heartbreaking, and I still don’t agree with the FA’s null and void decision when promotion and relegation went on in the top two leagues (of the women’s pyramid).

“We’ve had time to reflect now, and of course there were bigger things than football happening in the world. But the way we were robbed of promotion has put fire in our bellies for this season – and we’re out to make sure that we’ll get the promotion we absolutely deserved last season.”