Billy Walker

Born: 29 October 1897 in Dudley Street, Wednesbury, Staffordshire.
Baptised 30 November 1897 at St. James' Church in Wednesbury.
Address stated as being No. 2 Court 5 house Dudley Street in Wednesbury, His father is a collier.

Attended King's Hill School in Wednesbury.

According to the 1901 census, William is the oldest of two children to George and Violet (née Jacques), his younger brother is also named George. His father is a professional footballer. They live at 60 Birmingham Street in the Darlaston area of Wednesbury.

According to the 1911 census, William is now the oldest of seven children, all at home with their parents. Lottie, Lily, Neillie, Doris Evelyn and Cyril are the extra additions. Another two had since died. His father is now a labourer, and along with Violet's widowed father and brother, they are all living at 1 Cope Street in Darlaston.

Married to Sarah E. Brown [registered in Walsall, March 1919].

According to the 1939 register, William H, a football manager/secretary, and Sarah E. live at 38 Repton Road in West Bridgford, along with their daughter, Marjorie J..

Died 28 November 1964 in Sheffield

Began his schoolboy football in Walsall, and made three appearances for Hednesford Town FC in 1912. Also played with Fallings Heath FC, Darlaston FC and Wednesbury Old Park FC and Wednesbury Old Athletic FC, before he was spotted by Aston Villa FC, who signed him as a part-time professional in 1915. He returned to Wednesbury Old Park FC during the war period, and also turned out for the Villa and the Birmingham club. In May 1919, Walker signed as a full professional with the Villa, becoming club captain, and remained until his retirement on 7 December 1933, completing 478 league appearances and 214 goals, having accepted a new job with Sheffield Wednesday FC.

Appointed Secretary-manager of Sheffield Wednesday FC on 7 December 1933, until he tended his resignation on 7 November 1937, it was accepted two days later. He was linked with the vacant managerial position at Aston Villa in October 1935. On 24 January 1938, Walker was appointed secretary-manager of newly-formed Chelmsford City FC, who were applying for election to the Southern League, despite being a successful application, Walker remained until his resignation on 20 October, the same year. Joined Nottingham Forest FC as manager on 20 March 1939 and remained until July 1960, when he had to step down on health grounds. After stepping down from the Forest management, Walker remained on the club's committee until his death.

Though astute Villa supporters of earlier years thought that old players Hodgetts, Wheldon, Bache and Clem Stepehenson were better, Walker certainly lays claim to being the club’s most outstanding all-round outfielder since World War One. Billy made his debut for Villa in an F A Cup game against Queen’s Park Rangers in January 1920, scoring two goals. Less than four months later Walker was collecting a winner’s medal after Villa had beaten Huddersfield Town in the final at Stamford Bridge.
 
It was the start of a very successful career at Villa of an all-round sportsman of tremendous ability. He captained Villa for four seasons (1928 - 32) and played 18 times for England, also captaining his country. Those caps represent a time when few internationals were played, and in to-day’s game would probably have become 100 caps or more. His number of caps for England was a club record until it was surpassed by David Platt in 1991.
 
He scored four goals against Arsenal in August 1920 and is one of a handful of players to have scored a hat-trick of penalties in a Football League match - against Bradford City at Villa Park in November 1921. Walker switched from centre forward to inside-left and in that position he masterminded the Villa attack and was renowned for his long sweeping passes to either wing. His 478 League games were then a club record (and is still the club’s record for games in the top-flight), and only Harry Hampton scored more League goals for Villa. Yet on one occasion he was selected at centre-half – though he played in the old-style of centre-half, not the defensive one that even then was becoming the standard.
 
In his memoirs, he said, "The playing years with Aston Villa were the happiest of my whole life. About Villa Park itself hung an aura that seems almost to be visible. Most certainly it is there to be felt and I know of no other ground that has the same effect on one. Almost it seems to be peopled by ghosts - amiable ghosts whose job it is to breathe the great Villa spirit into generation after generation of ambitious youngsters who pass through the great gates to achieve a life's ambition; to wear the famous claret and blue of the great club."
 
Villa overlooked him as the club’s first team manager when they had the chance on his retirement (in December, 1933 – Villa then appointed McMullan as their first manager in 1934), but Billy was soon a successful football manager, and was one of the few managers to win the FA Cup with two different clubs - Wednesday & Forest. When Walker arrived at Hillsborough in December 1933, Wednesday were struggling to keep out of the relegation zone. With his arrival, the team went on an unbeaten 12 match run which took them to sixth in the table and they finished the 1933-34 season mid-table. In the 1934-35 season Walker continued with his successful start in management; in the league Wednesday finished in third place but that year will be remembered for the FA Cup and Wednesday’s first Wembley victory. On the way to the final Ellis Rimmer scored in every round and the highlight of those games was a 2-1 victory at Hillsborough over an Arsenal side who were in the process of winning their third successive league championship. The 4-2 victory over West Bromwich Albion won the cup for Wednesday and it was to be over fifty years before they won another major trophy.
 
After the success of 1935 the next two seasons were extremely disappointing. In the 1935-36 season they narrowly avoided relegation but in the following season 1936-37 they lost their First Division place when they were relegated with Manchester United. After yet another poor start in 1937-38, Walker resigned after an angry confrontation with a group of shareholders.
 
After a short spell with Chelmsford City, he went on to a successful period of management with Nottingham Forest which was to last for over 20 years. As manager of Forest when the club were chasing promotion he said: "I knew that our lads were playing in the grand Aston Villa manner in which I had been brought up." His Notts Forest team beat the Villa in the 1958/59 semi-final and went on to win the F.A. Cup. Billy retired from management in 1960.
 

Season

League

FA Cup

FL Cup

Europe

 

Games

Goals

Games

Goals

Games

Goals

Games

Goals

1919-20

15

8

6

5

 

 

 

 

1920-21

37

26

5

4

 

 

 

 

1921-22

36

21

6

6

 

 

 

 

1922-23

40

23

1

0

 

 

 

 

1923-24

36

14

6

3

 

 

 

 

1924-25

35

19

4

6

 

 

 

 

1925-26

36

21

4

1

 

 

 

 

1926-27

33

16

1

0

 

 

 

 

1927-28

38

10

3

1

 

 

 

 

1928-29

36

19

5

0

 

 

 

 

1929-30

31

8

4

3

 

 

 

 

1930-31

42

15

2

1

 

 

 

 

1931-32

28

9

3

0

 

 

 

 

1932-33

30

5

3

0

 

 

 

 

1933-34

5

0

0

0

 

 

 

 

Full England Appearances (18):

23 October 1920 - England 2 Ireland 0, Roker Park, Sunderland (scored)

22 October 1921 - Ireland 1 England 1, Windsor Park, Belfast

13 March 1922 - England 1 Wales 0, Anfield Road, Liverpool

8 April 1922 - England 0 Scotland 1, Villa Park, Birmingham

21 May 1923 - Sweden 2 England 4, Stockholms Olympiastadion, Stockholm (scored 2)

24 May 1923 - Sweden 1 England 3, Stockholms Olympiastadion, Stockholm

12 April 1924 - England 1 Scotland 1, Empire Stadium, Wembley (scored)

22 October 1924 - England 3 Ireland 1, Goodison Park, Liverpool (scored)

8 December 1924 - England 4 Belgium 0, The Hawthorns, West Bromwich (scored 2)

28 February 1925 - Wales 1 England 2, Vetch Field, Swansea

4 April 1925 - Scotland 2 England 0, Hampden Park, Glasgow

21 May 1925 - France 2 England 3, Stade Olympique Yves-du-Manoir, Paris (had to takeover in goal for the last 15 minutes)

24 October 1925 - Ireland 0 England 0, Windsor Park, Belfast

1 March 1926 - England 1 Wales 3, Selhurst Park, South Norwood (scored)

17 April 1926 - England 0 Scotland 1, Old Trafford, Manchester

20 October 1926 - England 3 Ireland 3, Anfield Road, Liverpool

12 February 1927 - Wales 3 England 3, The Racecourse, Wrexham (scored)

7 December 1932 - England 4 Austria 3, Stamford Bridge, London