18/03/1911 Glasgow Scotland 0-2
Billy Scott, Sam Burnison, Paddy McCann, Val Harris, Jimmy Connor, Harry Hampton, Billy Lacey, Denis Hannon, Johnny McDonnell, Charles Webb, John Walker
When Ireland lost in Glasgow against Scotland (0:2) on 18th March 1911, the young Irish outside left Thomas John Walker played his only full “A” international. The winger, who played in England for Bury FC, was popularly known only as “Jap” Walker and was the father of Harry Walker (Belfast Celtic), the best Irish midfielder of the 30s and 40s. “Jap” Walker was also the grandfather of “Mike” Gibson, an international rugby player.
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.
Author: Jonny Dewart