Tommy Walker (footballer)

Tommy Walker (footballer)

Infobox Football biography
playername = Tommy Walker

fullname = Thomas Walker
height =
nickname =
dateofbirth = birth date|1915|5|26|df=y
cityofbirth = Livingston Station
countryofbirth = Scotland
dateofdeath = death date and age|1993|1|11|1915|5|26|df=y
cityofdeath = Edinburgh
countryofdeath = Scotland
currentclub =
clubnumber =
position = Inside forward
youthyears = 1931-1932
youthclubs = Linlithgow Rose
years = 1933-1946
clubs = Heart of Midlothian
Heart of Midlothian
caps(goals) = 170 (192)
097 0(23)
001 00(0)
nationalyears = 1934-1939
nationalteam = Scotland
nationalcaps(goals) = 021 00(9)
manageryears = 1951-1966
managerclubs = Heart of Midlothian
Raith Rovers

Thomas "Tommy" Walker OBE (26 May 191511 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. [ Cairney, P128] He is considered along with Bobby Walker to be the 2 greatest players ever to wear the maroon of Hearts and the blue of Scotland. [ [ Hearts Greatest XI] , Andrew Goldie, 2000. Retrieved 23 June 2007]

Playing career


Born in Livingston Station in 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. [ Cairney, P128] 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. [ Speed et al, P78]

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. [ Speed et al, P91] 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. [ Hoggan, P187]

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. [ Cairney, P128] 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" paying Hearts £6000 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. [ [ Scotland 2-1 Northern Ireland] , "Scottish FA". Retrieved 27 November 2006]

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. [ Cairney, P128] 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" . [ Rafferty, P64] 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 5 SFL caps scoring 2 goals.

International goals

:"Scores and results list Scotland's goal tally first."

Managerial career

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. [ Price, P10]

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. [ Price, P12] 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 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 1956, 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 (1959, 1960) were won. 1960 ended with Walker being awarded the OBE for services to football. [ Hoggan, P187]

The 1960s witnessed Hearts fortunes fluctuate as Walker attempted to adapt to football’s tactical changes by implementing a 4-2-4 formation. [ Price, P35] The League Cup was won for a 4th time in 1962 but despite signing talented players like Willie Wallace, Willie Hamilton and Roald Jensen he could not create an effective blend. A season after the League title was lost through a last-day defeat to Kilmarnock in 1964-65, and followinng a slump in results, he resigned in 1966. [ Price, P48]

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.

Later Years

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. [ Hoggan, P187]

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.





External links

* [ Scotland career] at Official Scottish FA site
* [ Playing Career Statistics] at
* [ Manager Career Statistics] at
* [ Scotland Statistics] at
* [ SFL Statistics] at
* [ Image Archive] at

NAME=Walker, Tommy
SHORT DESCRIPTION=Scottish footballer
DATE OF BIRTH=May 26, 1915
PLACE OF BIRTH=Livingston Station, Scotland
DATE OF DEATH=January 11, 1993
PLACE OF DEATH=Edinburgh, Scotland

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