Obituary: Joe Walter, talented Clyde midfielder whose international ambitions were hampered by injury
Joe Walters, who has died aged 82, was a well-known Scottish footballer of the 1950s and ’60s. A skilful, hard working player he was equally at home at half back [midfielder] and full back. He played more than 230 games for Clyde, with whom he won the Scottish Cup in 1958, and his death means that George Herd is the only survivor of that team. In an exceptional season, Walters also helped the Shawfield club to fourth place in the old First Division, one of their highest ever finishes, and to a League Cup semi final. A Scottish Cup semi final appearance followed in 1960, while later that year he was selected to play for the Scottish League against the Irish League. Unfortunately, a broken leg brought his match to a premature end and undoubtedly hindered future international prospects. After seven seasons with Clyde, Walters went on to play for Albion Rovers, Stenhousemuir and Ards in Northern Ireland, totalling over 300 senior appearances.
Having signed from junior side Glasgow Perthshire, Walters made his debut for Clyde on 25 February 1956 in front of 30,000 against Celtic at Parkhead. He lined up at centre half alongside Davie Laing at left half, who himself died only four days before Walters, leading to Clyde honouring both with a minute’s silence before last Saturday’s game.
His debut resulted in a 4-1 loss but no blame could be placed at his door as The Scotsman correspondent reported: “Walters in his first Division A match played as well as any of his outfield colleagues.” He played another four games before the end of the season but could not prevent Clyde being relegated. The next season they bounced straight back up, losing only one game and scoring 122 goals under the astute management of Johnny Haddow and trainer Dawson Walker, with Walters a virtual fixture. Renowned as a team who played good football though subject to fluctuation in form, Clyde placed great emphasis on playing the ball on the ground and in training fouls were awarded for failure to do so. “The air was for birds and sputniks” as their managerial duo liked to say. That philosophy certainly helped in their successful Scottish Cup campaign that year when Walters was a constant presence in wins against Dumbarton, Arbroath, Celtic, Falkirk, Motherwell and, in the final, Hibs. Fourth place in the League topped off a gr season. By now Walters was well established and by 1960 his consistently good displays were attracting selectors’ attention. In the Anglo- French- Scottish Friendship Cup against Lens in France in Clyde’s first European game in August 1960, he was reported to have played “superbly” in the “Bully Wee’s” 4-0 win. The next month he was chosen for the Scottish League against the Irish League in a team containing six internationals, including teammate George Herd. Bad luck struck in the 16th minute for Walters when he was stretchered off with a broken left leg which kept him out of the game for more than seven months and in all probability put paid to international ambitions.
Clyde were relegated that season but again bounced straight back up as champions, earning Walters his second lower division championship medal. That brought an end to his Clyde career, which had also earned him Glasgow Cup and Charity Cup success. After spells with Albion Rovers, Stenhousemuir and Ards, he retired in 1967.
The eldest of four brothers and a sister, Walters was the son of Joseph, a boilermaker and his wife Jane. His brother George was on Clyde’s books before joining Oldham Athletic. Brought up in Glasgow’s Balornock area, he attended Petershill Secondary school where his football talents first flourished and led to his signing for Glasgow Perthshire.
In 1961 at the Barrowlands Ballroom he met Myra Brown from Partick. They wed in March 1964 and the couple enjoyed over 50 years of happy marriage, bringing up daughters Jan and Aileen. A fun-loving individual, Walters and his wife both very much enjoyed dancing and he used to joke that “she was a dancer and I was a chancer”. Initially they lived in Springburn, then Ibrox, before spending many years in Cardonald. Most of Walters’ working life was spent with British Telecom in its various forms, beginning as a “tele-boy”, delivering telegrams for the GPO. He then trained as an engineer, working “hands on” in that role before moving into administration and management. He maintained his interest in football continuing to play recreationally and in “Old Crocks” games, attended matches and reunions at Clyde and coached football at Cardonald primary school. Always active, other sporting activities included playing squash at Bellahouston sports centre, swimming at the Pollok centre and bowling at the Cardonald club, whom he represented in matches. For many years Walters was an elder at Hillington Park church. Above all he was a great family man. Latterly he lived in Whitecraigs Care Home where his friendly and humorous nature endeared him to all. His wife predeceased him in 2015 but he is survived by his daughters and grandchildren.