Hearts in 50 objects: No.43 – Bobby Walker, Hearts and Scotland legend

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Bobby Walker was Hearts’ most-capped player with 29 Scotland appearances until his record was broken in 2006 by Steven Pressley.

This board shows every one of his international appearances for Scotland at a time when football was still evolving.

The matches are all against England, Wales and Ireland before teams began travelling abroad for games. At this time, there were no international tournaments to be played in.

Walker joined Hearts from Dalry Primrose in 1896. He made his first-team debut in 1900 and would go on to score more than 100 goals in maroon.

This included an incredible 33 against Edinburgh rivals Hibs, raising his popularity to legend status amongst the club’s fans.

He was viewed as one of the best players in Europe of his generation and played a key role in Hearts’ Scottish Cup triumphs in 1901 and 1906.

That 1901 Scottish Cup win was remembered as “Walker’s Final”. Hearts beating Celtic 4–3 and, with the score at 3-3, Walker took decisive action. The Scotsman reported it as follows: “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. McArthur 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 the game, Walker’s Hearts team-mate 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.

Sadly, television did not exist at the time and therefore footage of Walker at his best has been denied so many fans who lived following the end of his career.

Walker played as a forward and his international exploits were just as legendary. The last of his international caps came in 1913, which meant he boasted one of the longest-spanning Scotland careers of all-time.

Walker held the Scottish cap record at various points from 1905 to 1931. No Scot has faced England on more occasions than the Hearts icon, who shares the record of having 11 caps against the Auld Enemy with Alan Morton, who played for Queen’s Park and Rangers.

This would have been 12, but the Ibrox Disaster match of April 1902 has been declared unofficial. Walker died aged 51 in 1930.