Small Heath, Birmingham born left half Walter Abbott began his football career with Rosewood Victoria before joining First Division Small Heath (now Birmingham City) in 1896 as an inside left, making his Football League debut (unusually) in a Test Match end of season relegation/promotion play-off against Manchester City in April 1896, scoring in an 8-0 thrashing of The Citizens at Muntz Street. However Small Heath were still relegated and Abbott played three further seasons in the Second Division for them. Having established himself in the side, he was an ever present in 1897-98, top scoring with 19 goals including a hat-trick in a 5-1 Christmas day victory over Darwen.
He then lit the blue touch paper in 1898-99, scoring an incredible club record 42 goals in 40 appearances for Small Heath including a goal a game in their 34 League games, again an ever present during their campaign, a tally that included 5 goals in an 8-0 win over Darwen in November 1898, a hat-trick in an FA Cup win over Burslem Port Vale the next month, and further trebles in wins against Loughborough, Woolwich Arsenal, Luton Town and Gainsborough Trinity during the second half of the season, and was the Division’s top goalscorer.
After 66 goals in 84 appearances for Small Heath, Abbott was signed by Everton in June 1899, where from December 1899 he settled into the left half berth and remained a regular for Everton in that position for nine seasons at Goodison Park during a relatively successful period for The Toffees, when he invariably formed The Toffees’ half back line with Harry Makepeace and Jack Taylor. Ever present in his second season at Everton, Abbott missed three matches as Everton finished runners up in the League Championship in 1901-02 and won his only cap for England in a 0-0 draw with Wales at The Racecourse Ground, Wrexham in March 1902. He was also selected for England’s squad in the return fixture at Fratton Park a year later but was the non playing reserve. In addition he represented The Football League four times during his career.
After helping Everton to a third placed finish in the League Championship in 1903-04, he was a mainstay of their 1904-05 campaign in which they finished League runners up and lost the 1905 FA Cup semi final in a replay to eventual winners Aston Villa at The City Ground, Nottingham. The following season Abbott made amends by scoring in an FA Cup semi final victory over Liverpool at Villa Park before helping Everton to beat Newcastle United in the 1906 FA Cup Final with a goal from Sandy Young at The Crystal Palace to win the only major trophy of his career, although he was again an FA Cup Finalist the following season as Everton were beaten 2-1 by Sheffield Wednesday at the same venue.
Abbott lost his place after an FA Cup replay defeat to Southampton in March 1908, and signed for Second Division Burnley in June 1908 after 37 goals in 291 appearances for Everton. He made his debut for The Clarets on 1st September 1908, playing at left half in their 1-0 defeat to Chesterfield at Turf Moor. He kept his place in the team for the first 13 matches of the season before being dropped in favour of Tommy Mayson. Abbott was selected at inside left for the first game of 1909 away at Glossop, and scored the winning goal in a 2-1 victory. He remained first choice in the position for the rest of the campaign, missing only 2 of the last 18 matches.
He scored twice during the 9-0 win against Crystal Palace in the second round of the FA Cup, and netted the only goal of the game as Burnley won away at Clapton Orient on 27th March 1909. Abbott scored five goals in the opening seven matches of the 1909-10 season, and netted his first Burnley hat-trick in the 4-2 defeat of Wolverhampton Wanderers on 13th November 1909. He scored his ninth and final goal of the campaign as Burnley beat Leicester Fosse on 11th December 1909. Abbott made his final appearance for the Clarets in the 1-1 draw with Leicester Fosse on 23rd April 1910, having scored 18 goals in 65 appearances during his two seasons at Turf Moor. Abbott returned to Small Heath, which had by then been renamed Birmingham in the 1910 close season, but played only once more in a defeat at Fulham in September 1910 before injury forced his retirement in 1911.
Abbott’s son, also named Walter, made 5 League appearances for Grimsby Town immediately after the First World War and also played for Chesterfield, Worcester City and other Midlands non league clubs.