Edinburgh born forward Bobby Walker joined Hearts from Dalry Primrose in 1896, making his debut in a “trial” match against Sunderland that April, and he scored on his Scottish League debut that October in a 5-2 win at St Bernards. He played in a few games that clinched Hearts second League Championship in 1897. Walker was the first Hearts player to score over 100 league goals, and he scored Hearts’ 1000th League goal. Other notable achievements are his 33 goals against Hibernian, which is the record tally in the Edinburgh Derby if local competitions are included. He scored two hat-tricks against Hearts’ Edinburgh rivals, the first at the age of 19 years and 9 months in a 5-1 victory at Easter Road on 28 October 1898. He repeated the feat on 18 September 1905 again at Easter Road in a 3-0 win.
Hearts’ 1901 Scottish Cup win was remembered as “Walker’s Final”, the Hearts beating Celtic 4-3. With the score poised at 3-3 The Scotsman reported it thus: “It, however, proved staunch, and the Edinburgh team soon showed that they were not going to relinquish the grasp of the cup which their play entitled them to, and Walker once more proved himself the grandest forward on the field. Taking the ball some thirty yards right through the opposition, he shot straight and true. M’Arthur saved, but sent the “leather” to Bell, who tipped it over to Houston. By the last named it was again sent towards the Celtic custodian who muddled his attempt to avert, and again the Hearts were one to the good.” After this match Charlie Thomson dubbed him “The Best Player in Europe” and his style of football, involving brilliant footwork and sublime passing was known as “Walkerism”. He also played in Hearts’ Scottish Cup win of 1906. In total he scored 146 goals in 389 Scottish League and Cup appearances for The Jambos but in all competitions scored 262 goals in 646 appearances, retiring in 1913.
During Hearts’ first overseas tour to Norway in May 1912 King Haakon of Norway attended one of the games to specifically see Walker play. He is considered along with Tommy Walker the greatest player ever to play for Heart of Midlothian.
After retiring Walker became a Hearts director in 1920, retiring in 1924. When he died at the early age of 51 in August 1930, huge crowds lined the funeral route and thousands stood round his graveside. His obituary in The Scotsman stated the following: “The Hearts never had a more brilliant forward than Walker. He was amazingly clever in manipulating the ball, and , it was on skill alone that he relied, for he was never favoured with physique. With the ball at his feet he could turn on his course elusively, and in such little space, that he could often put a whole defence out of position with his deft movement.”
The Football Encyclopaedia from 1934, edited by Frank Johnston, referred to him simply as “Bobby Walker, the greatest natural footballer who ever played.”
He was the most capped Scottish footballer for Heart of Midlothian with 29 caps between his debut in a 3-0 win over Ireland at The Solitude Ground, Belfast in March 1900 and his final appearance in a 1-0 defeat to England at Stamford Bridge in April 1913, scoring 8 goals for his country, until the record was broken in 2006 by Steven Pressley. He held the Scotland national team caps record at various points from 1905 to 1931. In addition he won 14 Scottish League representative caps between 1899 and 1911, scoring 4 times for The League.
His brother Alex Walker also played for Hearts.