"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
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,
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
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
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.