Tommy Walker (footballer, born 1915)

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Tommy Walker
Tommy Walker (1947).png
Walker in a Chelsea team photo, November 1947
Personal information
Full name Thomas Walker[1]
Date of birth (1915-05-26)26 May 1915
Place of birth Livingston, West Lothian, Scotland
Date of death 11 January 1993(1993-01-11) (aged 77)
Place of death Edinburgh, Scotland
Playing position Inside-right
Youth career
1931–1932 Linlithgow Rose
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1933–1946 Heart of Midlothian 170 (192)
1946–1948 Chelsea 97 (23)
1948 Heart of Midlothian 1 (0)
National team
1934–1939 Scotland 21 (9)
1935–1939 Scottish League XI 5 (2)
Teams managed
1951–1966 Heart of Midlothian
1967–1969 Raith Rovers
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Thomas Walker OBE (26 May 1915 – 11 January 1993) was a Scottish footballer, who played for Heart of Midlothian, Chelsea and the Scotland national team. He later managed Hearts and Raith Rovers before becoming a director of the Tynecastle club in his later years. Lauded for his Corinthian spirit and gentlemanly conduct, he is remembered as one of Hearts all-time greats.[2] He is considered along with Bobby Walker to be one of the two greatest players ever to wear the maroon of Hearts and the blue of Scotland.[3]


Heart of Midlothian[edit]

Born in Livingston, West Lothian, Walker had originally harboured an ambition to become a Church of Scotland minister, however his early footballing skills, which saw him recognised by Scotland at schoolboy level, ensured he was destined for a career on the pitch rather than in the pulpit.[2] He played with local sides Berryburn Rangers, Livingston Violet and Broxburn Rangers before joining the Hearts ground staff aged 16 in February 1932. As Scottish clubs could not then officially sign players until the age of 17, Walker played junior football for Linlithgow Rose until his birthday in May.[4]

A talented and elegant inside-forward, Walker quickly earned a place in the Hearts first team, helping the side to victory in the 1933 Jubilee edition of the Rosebery Charity Cup, in a season in which they finished 3rd in the league. He was a regular first team player by 1933–34 but despite some emphatic victories, inconsistent form limited Hearts to a sixth-place finish.

In 1934–35, Arsenal expressed interest in signing Walker, and the potential £12,000 fee mooted would have been a world record.[5] However, despite this interest and a later enquiry from Liverpool, Walker had by this stage become Hearts marquee player and the threat of a supporters boycott persuaded the Hearts board not to sell.[6]

However, despite scoring 192 league goals for Hearts and playing in sides boasting numerous internationals, such as Scots Dave McCulloch, Barney Battles, Andy Anderson and Alex Massie, Welshman Freddie Warren and Irishman Willie Reid, Walker was destined not to win a major honour as a player at Tynecastle. The closest Hearts came to success during his period there was a second place league finish in 1937–38.

The Army and Chelsea[edit]

The outbreak of global hostilities in 1939 led to the cessation of League football in Scotland. Many footballers joined the armed forces, particularly in Edinburgh where few local industries were deemed suitable for reserved occupation status. Walker joined the Army as a sergeant in the Signals Regiment, and played for the famous Army footballing "All-Stars" team.[2] Walker also guested for Chelsea, for whom he played several games, during the 1944–45 season. When the war ended, he joined Chelsea permanently The Blues paid Hearts £6,000 for his services in September 1946. Walker’s arrival completed the club's impressive new forward line, which also included Tommy Lawton and Len Goulden. He made 103 appearances and scored 24 goals during his two and a half years in west London.


Walker made his debut for Scotland against Wales in 1934, aged only 19, and he was to remain a regular in the side over the following five seasons. In 1935 he scored his first international goal on familiar territory, helping Scotland defeat Northern Ireland 2-1 at Tynecastle.[7]

His most important performances for Scotland, and those which endeared him most to the Tartan Army, were against England at Wembley. In 1936, when trailing 1-0, Scotland were awarded a late penalty, which Walker volunteered to take. Twice the young inside forward spotted the ball and twice the swirling wind blew it from the penalty spot. On each occasion, Walker calmly returned the ball and, displaying nerves of steel, converted the penalty at the third attempt.[2] He later recalled "I cannot even remember at what end of the ground the penalty-kick was given but I vaguely do remember the ball rolling of the spot. I just replaced it and hit it" .[8] Two years later, Walker's 5th minute shot from just inside the penalty box was the only goal of the game.

Walker earned a total of 21 caps, during which he scored 9 goals. He scored in 5 consecutive games from April to December 1938. All but one of these caps were obtained before the age of 25 and had the Second World War not intervened, he would have garnered considerably more. If the caps he earned in Wartime Internationals were to count he would have become the most capped Scottish player. He also won five Scottish League XI caps, scoring two goals.

International goals[edit]

Scores and results list Scotland's goal tally first.
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 13 November 1935 Tynecastle, Edinburgh, Scotland  Ireland 1–0 2–1 British Home Championship
2 4 April 1936 Wembley, London, England  England 1–1 1–1 British Home Championship
3 2 December 1936 Dens Park, Dundee, Scotland  Wales 1–1 1–2 British Home Championship
4 9 April 1938 Wembley, London, England  England 1–0 1–0 British Home Championship
5 21 May 1938 Olympisch Stadium, Amsterdam, Netherlands  Netherlands 3–1 3–1 Friendly
6 8 October 1938 Windsor Park, Belfast, Northern Ireland  Ireland 2–0 2–0 British Home Championship
7 9 November 1938 Tynecastle, Edinburgh, Scotland  Wales 2–2 3–2 British Home Championship
8 9 November 1938 Tynecastle, Edinburgh, Scotland  Wales 3–2 3–2 British Home Championship
9 7 December 1938 Ibrox, Glasgow, Scotland  Hungary 1–0 3–1 Friendly


Heart of Midlothian[edit]

The first seeds of the Walker managerial success were sown by Davie McLean. On 9 October 1948, after a mediocre start to the 1948–49 season Hearts' manager McLean combined three young forwards, Jimmy Wardhaugh, Willie Bauld and Alfie Conn Sr., for the first time.[9] They became dubbed the Terrible Trio and scored over 900 Hearts goals between them[10] (Wardhaugh 376, Bauld 355, Conn 221).[11] The combination of Wardhaugh's dribbling skills and non-stop running, Bauld's cerebral play and prodigious aerial ability, and Conn's energetic, tenacious style and powerful shooting complemented each other well.[12] Their first match as a forward combination ended in a 6–1 defeat of Scot Symon's impressive East Fife team of the era. This was notable as Symon's team had defeated the Maroons 4–0 a matter of weeks earlier.

A few weeks later in December 1948 Tommy Walker left during his third season at Chelsea to return to Hearts. He took the role of player-assistant to manager McLean. McLean's intention was that Walker would be a steadying influence in a developing young team. However, after a single appearance at right-half in a 1–0 home defeat by Dundee, Walker retired to concentrate fully on learning the managerial ropes.[13] McLean's sudden death on 14 February 1951 saw Walker promoted to the position of manager. Walker's reign was to prove the most successful period in the club's history.[14] The side he inherited included the Terrible Trio forwards, the full back pair of Bobby Parker and Tam McKenzie, and John Cumming and Freddie Glidden at wing half.

To this established core Walker added the crucial name of Dave Mackay. Mackay had been at Tynecastle as a schoolboy before being signing as a professional in 1952 (initially part-time whilst also working as joiner). Cumming's pairing with Mackay at wing half was to become the nucleus of the team in the middle of the pitch. Mackay was a supremely talented all round player of ferocious tackling, endless running and sublime ball control. Cumming's Iron Man nickname says much of his fearless determination. Despite his commitment he retained control of his temper and was never booked in his career. Cumming was the only player to collect medals for all seven of the trophies Hearts won under Walker. "He never had a bad game. It was either a fairly good game or an excellent game," said Mackay later of his former team-mate.[15] Both went on to become full Scotland internationalists while playing for Hearts.

Bauld's value to the team was underlined in 1952/53, when he missed eight vital league games through ankle injuries. Hearts were struggling, but with Bauld's return to full fitness came a change in fortunes. From the bottom half of the league they surged up the table to finish in fourth place (as they had the two previous seasons). That resurgence also took them to a 1952–53 Scottish Cup semi final against Rangers before 116,262 fans at Hampden Park in Glasgow. Wardhaugh scored in the 2-1 defeat. Hearts were now though on an upward trajectory.

In 1953–54, Wardhaugh became the A Division's top scorer with 27 goals as Hearts appeared set to win the League championship. However in the Scottish Cup quarter final 3-0 defeat to Aberdeen, Parker broke his jaw, Conn injured his back, and Wardhaugh collected a serious shin bone injury. To add to this was Bauld was sidelined for weeks with a troublesome back injury. A stuttering end to their season saw Celtic overtake them.[16] The young Mackay was given his first team debut in November 1953.

The team was boosted by the signing of Ian Crawford in August 1954. Mackay was given a regular place in the team, with Glidden now playing at centre half. They promptly became a trophy-winning force, lifting the first of seven trophies over nine seasons between 1954 and 1963. In 1954–55 Hearts won their first trophy since 1906, as they beat Motherwell 4–2 in the 1954 Scottish League Cup Final. Bauld scored three and Wardhaugh scored one. Hearts gained some recompense against Celtic from the season before, by beating them home and away in the 1954–55 Scottish League Cup group stage.

After signing Alex Young and Bobby Kirk, Walker’s side proceeded to win the 1955–56 Scottish Cup.[17] They thrashed Rangers 4-0 in the quarter finals with goals from Crawford, Conn and a Bauld double.[18] Cumming's commitment to the team was typified in that 1956 Scottish Cup Final before 132 840 fans. With blood streaming from a head injury from a clash with Celtic's Willie Fernie he said, "Blood doesn't show on a maroon jersey". He returned to the playing field in the 3-1 win and was man of the match. That quote is now displayed above the entrance to the players tunnel at Tynecastle.

Wardhaugh was the top tier's leading scorer again that season. The scorers in the cup final win over Celtic were Crawford with two and one from Conn. Conn ended that 1955-56 season at the peak of his powers aged 29 with a career best 29 goals from 41 games. On 2 May 1956 two weeks after the cup win Conn became the third of the terrible trio to collect a full Scotland cap. At Hampden Park he put his side ahead after 12 minutes in a 1–1 draw with Austria. However the following September he suffered a broken jaw playing against Hibernian keeping him out til January.[19][20] The days of the Terrible Trio as a combined force were nearing their end.

17 year old goalkeeper Gordon Marshall debuted in 1956. The future England under-23 internationalist became a Hearts goalkeeping regular until 1963. Walker completed the set of having won all three major Scottish football trophies with the League Championship in 1957–58. Conn suffered a serious ankle injury meaning he only played in five league games all season. Injury hit Conn left Hearts for Raith Rovers in September 1958 just two years after his 1956 zenith. With an injury hit Bauld only playing nine times in the league title win a new Hearts attacking trio were dominant. For a third time Wardhaugh was the League's top marksman with 28 strikes. This was one ahead of Jimmy Murray's 27 and four more than Young's 24. Mackay was fourth in Hearts' league scoring charts with 12. Hearts won that League title in 1957–58 with record-breaking points, goals scored and goal difference. Their record from 34 league games of 62 points out of a maximum possible 68 was 13 more than their nearest rival. They scored 132 goals (still the Scottish top tier record) with only 29 against for a record net difference of +103. This was Hearts' greatest ever league side. Murray and Mackay both played for Scotland at the 1958 FIFA World Cup where Murray scored in a 1-1 draw against Yugoslavia.

In the 1958–59 Scottish League Cup group stage Hearts eliminated Rangers. That October 1958 Scottish League Cup Final was won with a heavy 5-1 defeat of Partick Thistle. Bauld and Murray each scored two and Johnny Hamilton netted one. This was the fourth and last Hearts trophy for Mackay, who left the following March for Tottenham Hotspur. George Best of Manchester United, one of Tottenham's fiercest rivals in the 1960s, described Mackay as "the hardest man I have ever played against – and certainly the bravest".[21] Mackay's name as a club mainstay at half back was taken over by Billy Higgins.

After collecting three Scottish championships and 19 full Scotland caps at Hibernian, Gordon Smith had a recurring ankle injury leading to his free transfer in 1959. Smith believed that an operation could cure the injury[22] and paid for an operation on the offending ankle himself. He then signed for Hearts, his boyhood heroes.[22] He was to enjoy immediate success at Tynecastle, winning both the 1959 Scottish League Cup Final and league title in his first season with the club.[22] Hamilton scored for Hearts in that second successive League Cup Final and Young hit the winner. Third Lanark were beaten 2-1. 1960 ended with Walker being awarded the OBE for services to football.[23]

The 1960s saw Hearts fortunes fluctuate as Walker attempted to adapt to football’s tactical changes by implementing a 4–2–4 formation. Young and George Thomson departed for Everton in November 1960. At Everton Young became another from the Walker production line of full Scotland internationalists. Smith had an injury hit season leading to his joining Dundee (who became the third club with whom he won the Scottish title). Hearts signed further future full internationalists in Willie Wallace and David Holt. Hearts lost the 1961 Scottish League Cup Final after a replay. Cumming scored a penalty for Hearts in the first game 1-1 draw to the Scot Symon managed Rangers. Norrie Davidson scored Hearts' goal in the 3-1 replay defeat.

Another future internationalist, Willie Hamilton, joined for the run culminating in the 1962 Scottish League Cup Final win. Hearts won the trophy for a fourth time with a 1-0 final win over Willie Waddell's fine Kilmarnock side of that era. Davidson's goal this time proved decisive. Like in the 1954-55 win Hearts eliminated Celtic in that 1962-63 Scottish League Cup group stage.

In 1964–65 Hearts fought out a championship title race with Waddell's Kilmarnock. In the era of two points for a win Hearts were three points clear with two games remaining. Hearts drew with Dundee United meaning the last game of the season with the two title challengers playing each other at Tynecastle would be a league decider. Kilmarnock needed to win by a two goal margin to take the title. Hearts entered the game as favourites with both a statistical and home advantage. They also had a solid pedigree of trophy winning under Walker. Waddell's Kilmarnock in contrast had been nearly men. Four times in the previous five seasons they had finished league runners-up including Hearts’ triumph in 1960. Killie had also lost three domestic cup finals during the same period including the 1962 League Cup Final defeat to Hearts. Hearts had won five of the six senior cup finals they played in under Walker. Even the final they had lost was in a replay after drawing the first game. Hearts' Roald Jensen hit the post after six minutes. Kilmarnock then scored twice through Davie Sneddon and Brian McIlroy after 27 and 29 minutes. Alan Gordon had an excellent chance to clinch the title for Hearts in second half injury time but was denied by a Bobby Ferguson diving save pushing the ball past the post. The 2-0 defeat meant Hearts lost the title by an average of 0.042 goals.[24][25][26] Subsequently Hearts were instrumental in pushing through a change to use goal difference to separate teams level on points. Ironically this rule change later denied Hearts the title in 1985–86.

Following a slump in results, Walker resigned in 1966.[27]

Later years[edit]

Walker returned to Hearts in 1974, their centenary year, assuming a position on the board. The Maroons were struggling to match the standards set by the teams Walker played in and managed, and it was hoped his appointment would prove a fillip. However, the club’s troubles were ingrained, and by the time Walker retired in 1980, they had experienced relegation for the first time in their history.[6]

Walker continued to stay in Edinburgh in his later years and took a close interest in Hearts mid-1980s revival. He died at the age of 77, following a short illness, in 1993.


As manager[edit]

Hearts of Midlothian



  1. ^ "Tommy Walker". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 22 April 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d Cairney, P128
  3. ^ Hearts Greatest XI, Andrew Goldie, 2000. Retrieved 23 June 2007
  4. ^ Speed et al., P78
  5. ^ Speed et al., P91
  6. ^ a b Hoggan, P187
  7. ^ Scotland 2-1 Northern Ireland, Scottish FA. Retrieved 27 November 2006
  8. ^ Rafferty, P64
  9. ^ Scott, The Terrible Trio, 10-11
  10. ^ Alfie Conn: Obituary
  11. ^ Hearts FC Hall of Fame
  12. ^ Scott, The Terrible Trio, 101-103
  13. ^ Price, P10
  14. ^ Price, P12
  15. ^ John Cumming
  16. ^ "Willie Bauld Biography - Part 2"
  17. ^ Hearts 3 Celtic 1 British Pathe highlights on youtube
  18. ^ Hearts 4 Rangers 0
  19. ^ Hearts FC Alfie Conn obituary
  20. ^ Lomax, Andrew (7 January 2009). "Hearts legend Alfie Conn senior dies aged 82". Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  21. ^ The Times
  22. ^ a b c [1], Irish Times.
  23. ^ Tommy Walker dies at 77
  24. ^ Killie’s final day victory breaks Hearts
  25. ^
  26. ^ Hearts 0 Killie 2
  27. ^ Price, P48


  • Speed, David; Smith, Bill; Blackwood, Graham (1984). Heart of Midlothian Football Club: A Pictorial History 1874-1984. Heart of Midlothian F.C. plc. (ISBN 0-9510124-1-X). 
  • Cairney, John (2004). A Scottish Football Hall of Fame (Paperback). Mainstream Sport. ISBN 1-84018-920-7. 
  • Price, Norrie (1997). Gritty Gallant, Glorious: A History and Complete Record of Hearts 1946-1997 (Hardback). Price. ISBN 0-9521426-3-5. 
  • Hoggan, Andrew (1995). Hearts in Art (Hardback). Mainstream. ISBN 1-85158-736-5. 
  • Rafferty, John (1973). One Hundred Years of Scottish Football (Paperback). Pan. ISBN 0-330-23654-7. 

External links[edit]