Ray Walker (English footballer)

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Ray Walker
Personal information
Full name Raymond Walker
Date of birth (1963-09-23) 23 September 1963 (age 50)
Place of birth North Shields, England
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Playing position Midfielder
Youth career
Nottingham Boys
1981–1982 Aston Villa
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1982–1986 Aston Villa 23 (0)
1984 Port Vale (loan) 15 (1)
1986–1997 Port Vale 351 (33)
1994 Cambridge United (loan) 5 (0)
Leek Town 35 (5)
Newcastle Town ? (?)
Total 429+ (39+)
National team
1981 England Youth 4 (0)
Teams managed
1998 Leek Town (caretaker-manager)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Raymond "Ray" Walker (born 28 September 1963) is an English former football midfielder. He played 440 games for Port Vale in all competitions between 1986 and 1997,[1] ensuring himself a place in the club's history.[2] He was twice the club's player of the season, and was named on the PFA Team of the Year three times. He was promoted twice with the club and also played a part in the club's highest ever post-war finish in the Football League.

Known as the "Hoddle of the lower leagues", Walker was an expert passer.[3] With Aston Villa in the early '80s, he joined Port Vale in 1986, after a short loan spell in 1984. After eleven years at Vale Park he went into non-league football with Leek Town and Newcastle Town.

Playing career[edit]

Walker began his career with First Division club Aston Villa in September 1981, but found first-team opportunities limited.[2] He made his debut in the 1982–83 season against West Ham United.[2]

He was loaned to Fourth Division Port Vale for two months at the start of the 1984–85 season. He played fifteen games for John Rudge's side, scoring his first goal in professional football on 15 September, in a 3–1 win over Torquay United at Plainmoor. He returned to Villa Park but failed to established himself in the first team. He returned to Port Vale (now in the Third Division) on a permanent basis in July 1986 for a fee of £12,000, plus 50% of any future sale above that amount (a fee settled by a tribunal).[4][5] He played 54 games in 1986–87, scoring five goals. He was voted Player of the Year by the club's supporters in 1987–88,[6] and was also selected by the PFA for the Third Division Team of the Year.[5] These awards were handed to him for his performances during his 53 game season, with one of his seven goals coming against Tottenham Hotspur in a celebrated FA Cup Fourth Round upset.[2] He handed in a transfer request in June 1988, following rumours that the club had turned down an offer of £150,000 from Manchester City; his request was rejected – much to the disappointment of Stoke City manager Mick Mills.[7]

His partnership in midfield with Robbie Earle helped the club win promotion in 1988–89, both men being key players in the 1989 play-off final. Walker was also selected in the PFA Team of the Year for a second successive season, scoring six goals in 56 appearances. Despite this, he said "Wait until next year. I had a bad season!"[8] He helped the club to survive and prosper in the Second Division, and recovered from injury to post 47 appearances in 1989–90. He only scored the one goal, though it came at a crucial time, helping the "Valiants" to record a 3–2 victory over top-flight Derby County at Pride Park in the FA Cup.

He was installed as the club's penalty-taker in 1990–91, and five of his seven goals came from the spot. His performances over his fifty games resulted in him being awarded the club's Player of the Year award once again in 1991, with only David Harris before him having been handed that honour twice.

He was sidelined for five months with ligament damage in September 1991, and his absence during the 1991–92 was notable, and was a factor in the club being relegated, with Vale finishing just five points from safety. He recovered to make 27 appearances over the course of the season, his two goals from coming from the spot. Walker was involved in the TNT Tournament win in summer 1992.[5] He picked up a knee injury in April 1993 and although his performances 1992–93 saw him selected for that seasons PFA Second Division side of the year, he had to undergo a cruciate ligament operation in September 1993, which caused him to miss most of the 1993–94 season. At the end of the campaign though, Vale were promoted into the First Division as Second Division runners-up.

He spent a brief five game loan period with Second Division Cambridge United in September 1994, but managed to win his place back at Vale Park upon his return.[5] However he was struck down by another knee injury in March 1995. He played in the 1996 Anglo-Italian Cup Final, as Vale lost 5–2 to Genoa. He made nineteen appearances in 1996–97, as Vale posted their highest ever post-WW2 finish (eighth place in the second tier). He then left the club in May 1997. His many years with the "Valiants" entitled him to a testimonial game, which finished as an 8–6 defeat to Leicester City.[9] He played a total of 440 league and cup games for the club, scoring 43 goals.[10]

After leaving Port Vale he spent time as a player-coach with Conference new boys Leek Town, including a spell as caretaker manager in 1998.[11] He later turned out for Newcastle Town.

Style of play[edit]

Walker was an excellent set-piece taker.[12]

Post-retirement[edit]

Walker is now Football in the Community Officer for Crewe Alexandra.[13]

Honours[edit]

Individual
with Port Vale

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ray Walker". Port Vale official site. 17 November 2004. Retrieved 28 May 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Ray Walker – Player Profile". football-england.com. Retrieved 28 May 2009. 
  3. ^ Earle, Robbie (12 January 2012). "Here's my promotion-winning Vale team". The Sentinel. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  4. ^ Kent, Jeff (December 1991). Port Vale Tales: A Collection Of Stories, Anecdotes And Memories. Witan Books. p. 262. ISBN 0-9508981-6-3. 
  5. ^ a b c d Kent, Jeff (1996). Port Vale Personalities. Witan Books. p. 300. ISBN 0-9529152-0-0. 
  6. ^ Kent, Jeff (1990). The Valiants' Years: The Story Of Port Vale. Witan Books. p. 305. ISBN 0-9508981-4-7. 
  7. ^ Kent, Jeff (1989). Port Vale Promotion Chronicle 1988–1989: Back to Where We Once Belonged!. Witan Books. p. 22. ISBN 0-9508981-3-9. 
  8. ^ Kent, Jeff (1989). Port Vale Promotion Chronicle 1988–1989: Back to Where We Once Belonged!. Witan Books. p. 4. ISBN 0-9508981-3-9. 
  9. ^ Sherwin, Phil (2010). The Port Vale Miscellany. Brimscombe Port: The History Press. p. 57. ISBN 978-0-7524-5777-2. 
  10. ^ Sherwin, Phil (17 March 2012). "Van der Laan and Foyle stunned Rovers to help keep survival bid alive". The Sentinel. 
  11. ^ "Leek Town FC Managers". Leek Town F.C. Retrieved 5 February 2010. 
  12. ^ Baggaley, Michael (5 October 2013). "Chris Lines in good company when it comes to taking free-kicks". The Sentinel. Retrieved 6 October 2013. 
  13. ^ "Who's Who at the Alex". crewealex.net. 10 June 2011. Retrieved 21 October 2011. 

External links[edit]