Hearts fans tend grave of forgotten hero

The tended grave
The tended grave
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BIG-hearted Jambos have leapt into action to tend the grave of a forgotten club and international hero.

Lifelong fan Kevin Wright organised a clean-up of striker Bobbie Walker’s grave after the dilapidated condition of the hero’s resting place became a hot topic of conversation on popular fans’ forum Jambos Kickback.

Bobbie Walker

Bobbie Walker

Walker, who died in 1930, scored 260 goals in 644 appearances for Hearts between 1896 and 1919, but in recent years his grave at North Merchiston Cemetery has lain neglected.

Kevin, 36, and fellow fans decided earlier this week to head along and pay their respects to the former club great.

He said: “We didn’t do 
anything major, just cleared away all the weeds and gave it a general tidy-up.

“We also laid some flowers. It now looks a lot better than it did.

“It’s sad to see the grave of a former hero of the club like that. Bobbie Walker wasn’t just a great player for Hearts, but the national team too.

“Bobbie Walker is not as well known to modern fans due to his playing back when he did, but in terms of what he did for the club, he is a key part of our history.”

Walker was the first Hearts player to score more than 100 league goals, and also netted an incredible 33 goals against bitter rivals Hibs.

He was the most capped Scottish footballer for Hearts with 29 caps, until the record was broken in 2006 by Steven Pressley.

The striker also held the Scotland caps record at various points from 1905 to 1931.

His caps tally is all the more remarkable because in the early 20th century there were just three internationals played each year.

Kevin said he now wanted to protect the resting places of other Hearts legends.

He said: “We’ve spoken to the club and Hearts Heritage are keen to find the resting places of other greats.

“There are also plans to form a graves society where us fans would go and give a tidy-up to former players’ graves.”

Fans are also now clamouring for Walker to be inducted into the SFA Hall of Fame.

Kevin, who lives in Gorgie, said: “It’s only right that he is allowed into the Hall of Fame, he was one of the first real superstars of football and was well known throughout Europe at the time.

“To be honest, he should have been one of the first players to be inducted.”

Hearts historian David Speed said: “He was a very talented playmaker and known throughout the world at the time. He was also well loved and respected in Edinburgh.

“I find it astonishing that he has been overlooked because you would think that he would be a shoo-in.

“When he retired in 1913 he was Scotland’s most capped player. His case should definitely be reviewed by the SFA.”

Inspirational member of great side

BORN in January 1879, Bobbie Walker became a junior international with Hearts’ nursery side, Dalry Primrose.

He signed for the first team in April 1896 and played a handful of matches as the club clinched the league title in season 1896/97.

Bobbie became an inspirational member of the side, stamping his authority on the 1901 Scottish Cup Final, which became known as the “Walker Final” after Hearts beat Celtic.

After football he became a publican, shopkeeper and a partner in a cinema, while also serving on Hearts’ board from 1920 until 1924.

He died after a short illness in August 1930 and the route to North Merchiston Cemetery was lined with thousands of supporters.