2 February 2008

Billy Walsh

Name: William R. Walsh
Born: 31 May 1921, Dublin
Died: 28 July 2006, Noosa (Queensland, Australia)
Position: Half-Back

Representative Honours: Ireland: 5 Full Caps (1947-1948); Eire: 9 Full Caps (1946-1950); England: 3 Schoolboy Caps (1935); Auckland XI.
Club Honours:

Club Career:
Clubs
Seasons
Signed
Fee
League
FA Cup
War Lge
War Cup
Manchester.United
-
1935
Youth
0/0
-
-
-
Manchester City
45/46-49/50
Jun-38
Youth
109/1
9/0
227/8
67/1
Oldham Athletic
39/40
-
Guest
-
-
2/1
-
Rochdale
41/42
-
Guest
-
-
3/0
-
Manchester United
42/43
-
Guest
-
-
2/2
-
Chelmsford City
50/51
Apr-51
Free
(Southern League)
Canterbury City
51/52-53/54
Aug-51
Free
(Kent League)
Grimsby Town
54/55
Feb-54
Free
0/0
-
-
-
Eastern Suburbs
-
-
Free
(New Zeland)
TOTALS
£0
109/1
9/0
234/9
67/1

Biography:

Such was the young Billy Walsh’s talent that he was involved in a tug-of-war between two of England’s biggest clubs while still a schoolboy. Born in Dublin, he had moved to Gorton, Manchester as a seven year-old. He developed into a fine footballer and earned selection for England Schoolboys, playing against Scotland, Wales and Ireland in 1935. In 1936 he was signed by Manchester City and given a job as an office boy at Maine Road. It was then that Manchester United raised an objection, claiming that Walsh had already signed for them. Apparently his teacher, also a coach at United, had convinced the youngster to sign a contract with the club without Walsh understanding what it meant. The FA intervened and Walsh was given the choice as to which club he wished to play for – he chose City.

Having signed his first professional contract in June 1938 at the outbreak of the Second World War the eighteen year-old Walsh had yet to make his Football League debut. He played plenty of war-time football with City as well as with other clubs in the Manchester-area, including United, while working as a miner. After almost 300 war-time league and cup appearances, a club-record, Walsh finally made his Football League debut in a 3-0 win at Leicester City on the opening day of the 1946/47 campaign. However, he played a total of just thirteen games that season, missing out on a Second Division Championship medal due to lack of games. For the next three campaigns Walsh was City’s regular right-half.

Eleven years after representing England as a Schoolboy, Walsh made his senior international debut, against England, for the FAI’s team. The match, Eire’s first against England, was played at Dalymount Park and resulted in a 1-0 defeat. Three years later he was part of the Eire team that defeated England 2-0 at Goodison Park – the first time the English had been defeated on home soil by “foreign” opposition. The half-back pairing of Walsh and Mooney in this game was highly praised for their role in taking “the sting” out of England’s attack. Walsh was awarded his ninth and final cap by the FAI in a 5-1 defeat by Belgium in May 1950.

Walsh’s international career with “Northern” Ireland also got off to a bright start as Scotland were defeated 2-0 in Belfast in October 1947. This was followed up a month later by a 2-2 draw against England at Goodison. Also in green that day were Johnny Carey, Con Martin, Tom Aherne, Peter Farrell and Davie Walsh, all of whom would feature in Eire’s famous victory at the same venue a year-and-a-half later. After such a bright start, Walsh’s final three IFA caps brought three defeats at the hands of Wales, England and Scotland.

In April 1951 Walsh left Manchester City to take the role of player-manager at Chelsmford City. It proved a short-lived appointment as in August that year he took a similar role at Canterbury City, despite offers to return to the Football League as a player. In February 1954 he did return to the League as manager at Grimsby Town, beating 51 other applicants to the post. His time a Blundell Park was marked by struggle with just one brief highlight – Grimsby took a 2-0 lead in an FA Cup game against Wolves, but the 26,000 home fans went home disappointed as the League Champions rallied to win 5-2. With Grimsby heading for a re-election spot, Walsh left in March 1955.

Walsh then left England for New Zealand, coming out of retirement to play for Eastern Suburbs. He acted as selector and played for the Auckland provincial side through the late-50s and early-60s, notably in a 3-0 win over a touring Austria Vienna side on 10 August 1957 – the Austrians had twice defeated the New Zealand national team 7-1 in the preceding months! Walsh then settled in Australia where he coached both Melbourne Hakoah and Melbourne Hungaria, the latter to successes in the Australian Cup and Victorian Premier League “Double” in 1967.

In May 2003 Walsh returned to Manchester from his home in Queensland in a “parade of legends” prior to City’s final game at Maine Road. Following his death in 2006 his ashes were brought back to Manchester one last time and placed in the Garden of Remembrance at City’s new ground, the City of Manchester Stadium.

Ireland Cap Details:
04-10-1947 Scotland H W 2-0 BC
05-11-1947 England. A D 2-2 BC
10-03-1948 Wales... A L 0-2 BC
09-10-1948 England. H L 2-6 BC
17-11-1948 Scotland A L 2-3 BC

Summary: 5/0. Won 1, Drew 1, Lost 3.

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