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Tommy Walker (footballer born 1915)


Tommy Walker (footballer born 1915)

Tommy Walker
Personal information
Full nameThomas Walker
Date of birth(1915-05-26)26 May 1915
Place of birthLivingston, West Lothian, Scotland
Date of death11 January 1993(1993-01-11) (aged 77)
Place of deathEdinburgh, Scotland
Playing positionInside forward
Youth career
1931–1932Linlithgow Rose
Senior career*
1933–1946Heart of Midlothian170(192)
1948Heart of Midlothian1(0)
National team
1935–1939Scottish League XI5(2)
Teams managed
1951–1966Heart of Midlothian
1967–1969Raith Rovers
Template:Infobox medal templates
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

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.[1] 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.[2]

Playing career


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.[1] 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.[3]

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.[4] 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.[5]

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.[1] 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.[6]

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.[1] 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" .[7] 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

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

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.[8]

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.[9] 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.[5]

The 1960s witnessed Hearts fortunes fluctuate as Walker attempted to adapt to football’s tactical changes by implementing a 4-2-4 formation.[10] 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 following a slump in results, he resigned in 1966.[11]

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.[5]

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

  • Template:SFA Profile
  • Playing Career Statistics at
  • Manager Career Statistics at
  • Scotland Statistics at
  • SFL Statistics at
  • Image Archive at

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