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Players: Tributes:
Tom Walley
"An inestimable contribution"
By Colin Wiggins

Together with the goals of Endean, the trickery of Scullion and the coolness of Eddy, the contribution of Tom Walley to Ken Furphy's 1968-9 Third Division Championship side was invaluable. The expression 'midfield dynamo' was invented for him. Tough in the tackle, quick with his astute distribution, he drove Watford FC to the two best seasons in its history to that date, culminating in the Hornets first ever FA Cup semi-final appearance in 1970, having beaten Bill Shankly's Liverpool in the sixth round.

Like Sam Ellis or Tommy Mooney since, he was the player who fired up both the team and the supporters. Fists clenched, urging his colleagues on, he squeezed every last drop of effort from his team mates. And he had a shot on him that makes him a precursor of Ian Bolton and Richard Johnson. Remember that pile-driver against Rotherham in the snow? If you were there, you do!

He departed to spend a few years at the Orient but came back in 1976, and moved into the back four, still epitomising that determination to give of his best and to exhort, cajole and encourage those around him to do likewise.

In 1977 he moved into working with the juniors and very soon established a reputation as a coach of the first order. Watford's youth team under Tom Walley produced gems of burnished brilliance. The Taylor Years are almost unthinkable without Tom Walley's contribution. Those kids who passed through his hands turned into Nigel Callaghan, Kenny Jackett, Steve Terry, Nigel Gibbs, Ian Richardson. And look what they did for us.

Then GT left us for Villa. Enter the disaster of Harry Bassett and his new broom, followed by a succession of new brooms, in the manner of clubs like Manchester City or Wolves. Tom stuck around for a while but in 1990 he was (using an expression of the time) "allowed to go". The wilderness years were well and truly under way. The gems of burnished brilliance began to shine elsewhere, first at Millwall and then at Arsenal. Tom's very special talents were also recognized by the country of his birth, as he became coach to the Welsh Under-21s.

In the history of Watford FC, the Second Coming of Tom Walley might not have been as significant as the Second Coming of GT, but he played a crucial role in that reinvention of our club that we have witnessed recently. The methods that had made Watford so special in the first place were back. Or rather, Tom Walley was back. As he sat alongside GT on the bench at Wembley, order was restored after the Bassetts and Petcheys, the Moralees and Ramages, had frankly buggered it all up.

When he was a player, I watched him exhort, cajole and encourage on the field. I imagine that his work with the juniors was done in the same style. A club like Watford needs the best there is to work with the kids, for reasons far too obvious to state. Tom Walley was the best.

Good luck in your retirement Tom, we remember you both as an inspirational player and a tremendous coach. Your contribution to our club was inestimable.