Tommy Walker (footballer, born 1915)
Walker in a Chelsea team photo, November 1947
|Full name||Thomas Walker|
|Date of birth||26 May 1915|
|Place of birth||Livingston, West Lothian, Scotland|
|Date of death||11 January 1993(aged 77)|
|Place of death||Edinburgh, Scotland|
|1933–1946||Heart of Midlothian||170||(192)|
|1948||Heart of Midlothian||1||(0)|
|1935–1939||Scottish League XI||5||(2)|
|1951–1966||Heart of Midlothian|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
Thomas "Tommy" 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. 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.
Hearts of Midlothian
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. 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.
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. 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.
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
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. 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.
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. 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" . 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.
- Scores and results list Scotland's goal tally first.
|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|
Walker left Chelsea in December 1948 and returned to Hearts, where he assumed the role of player-assistant to manager Davie 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.
McLean's sudden death, on 14 February 1951, saw Walker promoted to the position of manager and his reign was to prove the most successful period in the club's history. The side he inherited included the Terrible Trio forward combination of Alfie Conn, Willie Bauld and Jimmy Wardhaugh, as well as John Cumming and Freddie Glidden, and had become regular challengers at the top of the league.
To this established nucleus, Walker added Willie Duff, Ian Crawford and most importantly, Dave Mackay, and Hearts moved up a level. In 1954–55 they won their first trophy in 48 years, beating Motherwell 4–2 in the League Cup final. Having developed a taste for success, Walker’s side proceeded to win the Scottish Cup in 1955–56, then the League title in 1957–58, with record-breaking points, "goals scored" and "goal difference" totals. Walker subtly blended new stars into the side, Alex Young, Jimmy Murray and the veteran Gordon Smith gradually replacing the Terrible Trio as a further league title (in 1959–60) and two League Cups (1958–59, 1959–60) were won. 1960 ended with Walker being awarded the OBE for services to football.
The 1960s saw Hearts fortunes fluctuate as Walker attempted to adapt to football’s tactical changes by implementing a 4–2–4 formation. The League Cup was won for a fourth time in 1962–63 but despite signing talented players like Willie Wallace, Willie Hamilton and Roald Jensen he could not create an effective blend. A 2–0 defeat at home to Kilmarnock cost Hearts the league title in 1964–65. Following a slump in results, Walker resigned in 1966.
Walker did not stay unemployed for long, joining Dunfermline Athletic in an administrative role before being appointed Raith Rovers manager in 1967. After two seasons battling relegation, he ended his management career, becoming secretary at Starks Park.
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.
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.
- Hearts of Midlothian
- Scottish League Championship:
- Scottish Cup:
- Winners: 1955–56
- Scottish League Cup:
- 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.