Read the full interview with Joe Walsh which featured in last weekend’s edition of Red Dot...
First of all Joe, how have you found the season to date?
“It’s been a good season so far but we just need to keep going and not get carried away with the position we are in. We need to remain calm, keep working hard, both on the pitch and during training, and see where we end up at the end of the season.”
Personally, how do you think you’ve performed this year?
“I think I’ve done well, to be fair. You have to play well to stay in this team! The whole team has played well. We’ve had to play well to be in the position we are in. I’m pleased with how I’ve played, though, and hopefully, it will continue.”
You’re currently playing alongside Russell Martin. Are you enjoying playing next to someone who has so much experience in the game?
“I’ve been enjoying it. He’s got loads of experience and is still a quality player. He’s come in and gelled with all the boys and is doing really well on the pitch.”
We have kept 16 clean sheets in the league this season. How much do you and the rest of the team take pride in that achievement?
“We work really hard in training on our defensive shape so to see it come to fruition on the pitch is pleasing. We’ve had to chop and change our defence a number of times this season because we’ve had a lot of injuries but Tis puts us through a lot of different formations to make sure we are ready for everything. Hop,efully we can keep a few more clean sheets between now and the end of the season.”
You’ve been at Stadium MK since 2015 and are one of the longest-serving players amongst the current group. How much do you enjoy being an MK Dons player?
“I’m loving my time here. This is a great Club to be at and I’ve enjoyed every minute of being here. Obviously, I’ve had some down times along the way but, at the moment, it’s going well and hopefully, it’ll continue to do so.”
How do you find living here in the Milton Keynes area?
“I enjoy it! I live up here with my fiancé and our dog. It’s a nice area. As soon as I leave the stadium, I try not to think about football. I like to relax and spend time with my family so we often go out for food and just chill out. I think you need an escape, you need to reset and take your mind off things so you feel recharged the next day.”
How have you found life under Paul Tisdale and his coaching team?
“I’m really enjoying it. I think everyone in the dressing room is enjoying working with him. Training is good, everyone comes into the building looking forward to working and that’s down to Tis and his team. We’ve got a great group of lads here, everyone is behind each other. Whether they are in the squad or not, Tis keeps everyone going. We have our ups and downs as a team but we’ve just kept going. The coaching staff plays a massive part too. I think everyone at the Club is massive in helping us to achieve our ambitions.”
You mention things have been going well. Are you a player that can enjoy their football and play with a smile on their face?
“Yeah, I think you have too if you’re a professional footballer. You have to enjoy it and if you’re not, you shouldn’t be a professional footballer. It’s everyone’s dream to be a footballer and I’m really enjoying my football. Long may that continue!”
Let’s rewind to the start of your career. How did you get into football? Can you remember your earliest memories?
“I actually grew up playing rugby because my Dad played it but I got into football when I was about eight. I started playing for my local team and was really enjoying it. It was then that I realised I enjoyed playing football more than rugby. I then found my love for football going to watch Cardiff City with my Dad. I then got signed by Swansea City when I was 15, which didn’t go down well back in Cardiff! It was a way into football, though, and I loved my time there!”
You represented Wales at the youth level and then went on to feature in a number of senior squads. How proud are you of that achievement?
“Representing your country is the biggest thing you can achieve in football. It was a proud moment whenever I pulled on the shirt. I love getting called up and training with the boys. I get to go home back to Wales too so that’s always good. I also get to see the world and travel to countries I’ve never seen before. It would be nice to get back into the senior squad at some stage but, for now, I’m concentrating on playing and doing well for MK Dons. If I get a call-up that’s a bonus!”
How different are international games compared to domestic football matches?
“It’s different to league football. It’s more possession based and more concentration is required. There are some quality players in the international game and, while it is a different style of play, you have to get used to it. You take the experience and toughness from the domestic game and use it in them games.”
How important are the fans going to be during these final few games? 601 of them made the journey to Forest Green Rovers last weekend and were loud throughout!
“They were really impressive at Forest Green! They kept us going right until the final whistle. We scored late on and, to be honest, I think the fans had a part to play in that goal. Half the stadium was our fans and it was great to see. As long as there is a song going on in the stands, it gets everyone going. Hopefully, they can keep their voices raised until the end of the season!”