STAR signing Jason Walker has insisted leaving Luton Town for York City is not a “backward step”.
The Hatters have already been installed as short-priced favourites for next season’s Blue Square Bet Premier title with City predicted to finish fifth by the bookmakers behind the likes of Fleetwood, Darlington and Mansfield.
Former League Cup winners Luton also boast crowds twice the size of the average gate at Bootham Crescent.
In six meetings, however, since their relegation from the Football League in 2009, Luton have lost to the Minstermen three times and only won once – in last season’s league fixture at Kenwilworth Road when goalkeeper Michael Ingham and Jonathan Smith were both sent off.
City went on to avenge that defeat with a 1-0 home victory in April – the same outcome as both of the play-off semi-final legs between the two teams in 2009/10.
Walker played in that last Bootham Crescent clash for the visitors and believes City have just as much potential as the club he has left.
The former Barrow forward said: “Luton are a big club but so are York. The club has a long Football League history too and this is nowhere near a backward step for me.
“I want to play regular football and the manager has promised to give me a good shot at that.
“I didn’t play as many games as I wanted to at Luton but played more matches towards the end of the season under the new manager.
“It wasn’t that I wasn’t wanted at Luton but this move felt right and the manager (City chief Gary Mills) told me I should go with my gut instinct so I had to come here.
“I know we have a good footballing team and that the club have done well since the manager took over, almost getting in the play-offs.
“I thought they were a really good side when Luton played here at the end of last season but I knew that anyway.”
Walker has scored 38 goals over the last two campaigns, despite being used sparingly at Luton after his move from Cumbria last November.
The offer of a two-year deal with City and the club’s dogged pursuit of his services, therefore, left him with no reservations concerning his move from Bedfordshire, with Luton confirming that the transfer fee was £60,000.
He added: “The chairman and manager have really sold the club to me and, after thinking long and hard about the move, I feel I have made the right decision and I’m delighted to be here to be honest.
“The manager has told me what he wants to achieve on the field and that I will be a big part of that. I feel really wanted and I’d like to be here for a while.”
Walker went on to admit that if Barrow had given him permission to speak to Mills, when the City manager first made his interest public last autumn, he might never have headed for Luton.
He said: “I wasn’t made aware of any offer being accepted back then but, if I had spoken to the manager in October and he had said the same things as he has done this week, then I would have probably signed for the club last season.”
Keeping personal ambitions private, the ex-Morton frontman is more forthright as to what the team should aspire to in 2010/11.
He said: “I do set myself targets but I don’t tell anybody about them. Team wise, I wouldn’t have come here if the manager was talking about being a mid-table team.
“His ambition and the players that he is signing speaks for itself. He’s aiming to be near the top of the league and I think we can be.”