Wednesbury, Staffordshire born inside left Billy Walker became an Aston Villa legend playing 531 games between 1919 and 1933 scoring 244 goals (of which only 17 were scored from the penalty spot), which still sees him as Aston Villa’s all time leading scorer. He began his football career playing for Hednesford Town in 1912, Fallings Heath and Darlaston in 1913, and Wednesbury Old Park and Wednesbury Old Athletic in 1914 before he joined Aston Villa in 1915 shortly before the First World War caused the suspension of peacetime football. He didn’t make his debut until January 1920 in an FA Cup tie against Queens Park Rangers, when he scored both goals in a 2-1 win set them on the road to the Final at Stamford Bridge. His Football League debut followed a week later at Burnley and his first hat-trick came in a 4-0 win over Newcastle United that April. He was an FA Cup winner in their 1920 victory over Huddersfield Town at Stamford Bridge less than 3 weeks later having scored 3 further goals in the Cup run.
He got to Wembley in the 1924 Cup Final but Villa lost to 2 late Newcastle United goals. He was a consistent goalscorer for Villa but only breached the 30 goal mark once in a season with 31 goals in 1920-21, including four in an opening day 5-0 thrashing of Arsenal, top scoring in a season when no other player scored more than 7 goals. In 1921-22 he was the club’s top scorer in the League with 21 goals but was outscored by Ian Dickson with 28 to Walker’s 27 as the pair shared all but one of the 16 goals Villa scored in their Cup run. He was again the club’s top scorer in 1923 and 1925, scoring in total 4 goals on 2 occasions and 10 other career hat-tricks, Walker is the only Villa player to have scored a hat-trick of penalty kicks in a Football League game, doing so against Bradford City in November 1921.
Those early Villa goals had already earned him his first England cap when he scored in a 2-0 win over Ireland at Roker Park in October 1920. He played 18 times for England between 1920 and 1932 scoring 9 goals and captaining his country on 3 occasions between 1925 and 1932, he also played 6 times for The Football League between 1921 and 1930. He was also the first English international to score at Wembley, when he scored against Scotland on 12th April 1924. He also won the 1924 FA Charity Shield with The Professionals, scoring twice in their 3-1 win over The Amateurs at Highbury.
He played his final match for Aston Villa in September 1933 and after retirement he became manager of Sheffield Wednesday in December 1933, leading them to an FA Cup victory in 1935, but Wednesday were relegated two years later and Walker resigned in November 1937. He then became manager of Nottingham Forest from March 1939 to June 1960, bringing promotion to the First Division in 1956–57 and then famously guiding them to win the FA Cup in 1959 becoming the only manager to win the trophy both before and after the Second World War.
This photograph was taken on 21st May 1925 at The Stade Olympique in Paris on the occasion of Billy Walker’s first England captaincy in a match England won 3-2. A remarkable occurrence for him… Walker had to replace Millwall’s injured goalkeeper Fred Fox in goal in the 76th minute after he’d been injured as the French scored their second goal but he managed to keep the French out for the remainder of the match.
His father, George Walker, played for Wolverhampton Wanderers, Crystal Palace and New Brompton during the first decade of the 20th century.