19 January 2008

John 'Jap' Walker

Name: Thomas Guyan Walker (registered name, never used)
Born: 27 November 1885, Aberdeen (Scotland)
Died: 1963, Belfast
Position: Outside-Left

Representative Honours: Ireland: 1 Full Cap (1911).
Club Honours: (with Belfast Celtic) Co. Antrim Shield Winner 1909/10; (with Glentoran) Irish League Champion 1912/13.

Club Career:
Clubs
Seasons
Signed
Fee
League
FA  Cup
Other
19th Old Boys
08/09
-
-
-
-
-
Castlereagh
-
-
-
-
-
-
Belfast Celtic
09/10
-
-
-
-
-
Bury
09/10-11/12
Apr-10
-
18/0
-
1/0
Glentoran
12/13
c/s-12
-
*23/5
-
-

Belfast.Celtic
13/14
-
-
-
-
-

Belfast Utd
15/16
-
-
-
-
-

Glentoran
-
Aug-19
-
0/0
-
-

Willowfield
20/21
-
-
-
-
-

TOTALS
-
41/5
-
1/0



Biography:
John “Jap” Walker began his playing career as a teenager with 19th Old Boys before joining Belfast Celtic for the 1908/09 season. His play for Celtic in the 1910 Co. Antrim Shield Final, a 3-1 win over Glentoran on 2nd April, led to an immediate transfer to Bury. Although he played just eighteen league games for the Shakers in three seasons (four in 1909/10, eleven in 1910/11 and just three in 1911/12) he was quite a hit at Gigg Lane.

In the final international match of 1910/11 Walker was called into the Ireland team as replacement for Frank Thompson. On a bitterly cold and windy day at Parkhead Scotland cruised to a 2-0 win, but it was the repercussions of the match that were to have a lasting effect on Walker’s life. As a matter of course he has been asked to prove his Irish birthright but it was only after the match that his birth certificate could be obtained.

Walker’s Scottish birth was a surprise to all, including the man himself, and brought his international career to a halt after just one match. The birth certificate revealed not only Walker’s Aberdeen birth, but also an apparent disagreement between his parents, George and Mary Ann, over what they should name their firstborn son. John Walker had in actual fact been registered as “Thomas Guyan Walker” a name by which he was never referred. The Walker family had left Scotland when John was a mere infant so it is perhaps understandable that he had assumed himself to be a Belfast boy.

His international career having been ended after just one appearance, Walker also found that peoples’ attitudes toward him had changed. Many considered his deception to be deliberate. Bury insisted on recording his name as “Thomas” and that, coupled to the fact his young wife was living in Belfast with her parents, meant his career in England was doomed.


In 1912 Walker returned to Belfast to join Glentoran. He helped the Glens to the Irish League title with personal highlights including scoring in a 2-0 win over his old club, Belfast Celtic and the final goal of a 4-3 win over Linfield. He also received his marching orders during an ill-tempered match with Belfast Celtic in December 1912.


Still troubled by his international experience and his exit from Bury, Walker became disillusioned with football and he brought his playing career to a close with brief spells with several Belfast clubs. He also served with the Royal Irish Fusiliers. In later years he took delight in following the careers of his two sons, John, an inside-forward with Linfield, and Harry, of Belfast Celtic and rated as “the best half-back never to gain an international cap”.

Ireland Cap Details:

18-03-1911 Scotland A L 0-2 BC

Summary: 1/0. Won 0, Drew 0, Lost 1.


Additional details kindly supplied by George Glass and Martin O'Connor.

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