‘Tommy is the finest type of sportsman and gentleman that ever donned a football jersey,’ wrote a Chelsea supporter in 1944.
‘It has given me joy to watch him.’ If that was the response after a handful of appearances as a wartime guest in the low-key, regionalised league, imagine the Scots forward’s impact when Billy Birrell lured him back permanently two years later.
Swiftly earning the sobriquet the ‘Ace of Hearts’ (his previous club), Walker graced a stellar post-war forward line with mazy dribbles, superbly effective bursts of pace and an ability to spread play and stretch opponents. In little more than 100 games he also found the net 24 times.
Chelsea’s no.10 not only re-energised the club’s age-old connections with luminaries from north of the border but his natural kindliness projected a gentler approach to the game that won many admirers beyond Stamford Bridge.
Tommy has the distinction of gracing Chelsea’s first modern magazine-style matchday programme, launched on 25 December 1948, the day he bade farewell to the Fulham Road.
After his final game, the return match at Portsmouth two days later, even Pompey’s President, Field Marshall Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, stood rigidly to attention in salute as Walker left the field.