Billy Walker (footballer, born 1897)

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Billy Walker
Billy Walker Footballer.png
Personal information
Full nameWilliam Henry Walker
Date of birth(1897-10-29)29 October 1897
Place of birth Wednesbury, England
Date of death 28 November 1964(1964-11-28) (aged 67)
Place of death Sheffield, England
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Position(s) Inside forward
Youth career
1915–1919 Aston Villa
Senior career*
YearsTeamApps(Gls)
1919–1933 Aston Villa 478 (214)
National team
1920–1932 England 18 (9)
Teams managed
1933–1937 Sheffield Wednesday
1938 Chelmsford City
1939–1960 Nottingham Forest
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

William Henry Walker (29 October 1897 – 28 November 1964) was a prominent English footballer of the 1920s and 1930s. [1] He is considered by many to be one of the greatest footballers to ever play for Aston Villa and England. As a manager he won the FA Cup with each of Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest, some 24 years apart, a record to this day.

Contents

Early life

Billy Walker was born in Wednesbury, Staffordshire. His father George Walker, had played professional football for Crystal Palace from 1905 to 1909. The young Walker played schoolboy football for an number of clubs, Hednesford Town FC, Fallings Heath FC, Darlaston FC, Wednesbury Old Park FC and Wednesbury Old Athletic FC, before he was spotted by Aston Villa scouts, who signed him as a part-time professional in 1915. He signed as a full professional with the Villa in May 1919. [2]

Playing career

A one-club man, Walker made 531 appearances for Villa between 1920 and 1934, scoring 244 goals, of which 214 came in 478 league matches. [3] He remains Aston Villa's all-time top goalscorer to this day.

Walker burst onto the scene in January 1920, scoring both goals in a 2-1 FA Cup first-round win over Queens Park Rangers on his senior debut. He was an FA Cup winner with Villa in his debut season, the club beating Huddersfield 1–0 in the final.

He again reached the FA-Cup final with Villa in 1924, this time losing 2–0 to Newcastle United.

Walker could shoot with both feet and was a superb header of the ball. [4] He is the only player to have scored a hat-trick of penalty kicks in a Football League game, doing so in a 7–1 win against Bradford City in November 1921. [5]

Walker played for England 18 times, scoring 9 goals. He had the distinction of scoring England's first-ever goal at Wembley in 1924. [1] He was only the second Aston Villa player to captain England, after Howard Spencer.

Towards the end of his career, Villa twice finished runners-up in the league to Arsenal in 1930–31 and 1932–33. The 1930–31 season saw Villa score a record 128 top-flight goals, with 33-year-old Walker contributing 15 goals.

Billy Walker was Villa's talisman throughout the 1920s and into the 1930s, netting double figures in 12 consecutive seasons from 1919–20. [4] Full-back Tommy Smart is said to have once been asked: "What's the team for the match, Tommy?". "Oh, Billy Walker and ten others!" was the reply. [6]

In March 2003, nearly 40 years after his death, he was named by BBC Sport as the former player Aston Villa needed in their modern-day team – who were struggling for goals that season and narrowly avoided relegation from the FA Premier League (top flight of English football). [7]

Management

Sheffield Wednesday

He became manager of Sheffield Wednesday in December 1933, and he successfully steered them away from relegation. In 1935 he led them to an FA Cup victory, but Wednesday were relegated two years later and Walker resigned in November 1937. [8]

Chelmsford City

On 24 January 1938, Walker was appointed secretary-manager of newly formed club Chelmsford City. Walker's first signings as Chelmsford manager included former England international Eric Keen, Ireland international Jackie Coulter and Jack Palethorpe, whom he had managed at Sheffield Wednesday. On 20 October 1938, Walker resigned from Chelmsford due to conflict with Chelmsford's directors over transfers. Walker had intended to sign a player from Plymouth Argyle for free, before discovering a £500 fee was demanded, believing "that money was going to take a lot of finding" from the club. [9]

Nottingham Forest

He managed Nottingham Forest from 1939 to 1960, bringing promotion to the First Division in 1956–57 and an FA Cup final triumph two years later (beating former team Aston Villa in the semi-finals), becoming the only manager to win the trophy both before and after the second World War. He died in November 1964, four years after retiring as Nottingham Forest manager (and on the same day as another former Sheffield Wednesday manager, Jimmy McMullan). [10]

Career honours

Honours as player

Aston Villa

Football League First Division

FA Cup

Honours as manager

Sheffield Wednesday

FA Cup

Nottingham Forest

FA Cup

Football League Second Division

Football League Third Division (South)

FA Charity Shield

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References

  1. 1 2 "Billy Walker". englandstats.com. Retrieved 11 September 2009.
  2. "Walker's schoolboy football". England Football Online. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
  3. "Walker, William Henry (Billy)". Aston Villa Player Database. Jörn Mårtensson. Retrieved 11 September 2009.
  4. 1 2 Bishop, Rob (2010). Aston Villa The Complete Record. England: The Derby Books Publishing Company. p. 286. ISBN   9781859838051.
  5. Butler, Bryon (1998). 100 Seasons of League Football. England: Queen Anne Press. p. 392. ISBN   1852915951.
  6. Lerwill, John (2009). The Aston Villa Chronicles. England: Aston Villa Limited. p. 390. ISBN   9780956286109.
  7. Fordyce, Tom (24 March 2003). "Blast from the past: Part one". BBC News.
  8. Stuart Jackson. "Billy Walker". adrianbullock.com. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
  9. Don Wright (15 October 2016). Clough and Walker: Forest's Greatest Managers. Amberley Publishing.
  10. "Jimmy McMullan Dead". The Herald. Glasgow. p. 4. Retrieved 12 March 2016.