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Andy Walker: A Patsy

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Andy Walker was the manager of Middlesbrough (not the manager of this forum). On the 16th January 1911, Walker was suspended from football for life. I believe he was a victim of a Tory conspiracy.

This is the background to the story. On 27th June, 1910, Walker was appointed manager of Middlesbrough by the chairman, Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Gibson Poole. As well as being chairman he was also the mayor of Middlesbrough. He was the leading Conservative Party figure in Middlesbrough and wanted desperately to be the city's member of parliament. However, at that time, the country had a very popular Liberal government. Working closely with David Lloyd George, his radical Chancellor of the Exchequer, Herbert Asquith introduced a whole series of reforms including the Old Age Pensions Act and the People's Budget that resulted to a conflict with the House of Lords.

The Conservatives, who had a large majority in the House of Lords, objected to this attempt to redistribute wealth, and made it clear that they intended to block these proposals. David Lloyd George reacted by touring the country making speeches in working-class areas on behalf of the budget and portraying the nobility as men who were using their privileged position to stop the poor from receiving their old age pensions. After a long struggle with the House of Lords Asquith and the Liberal government finally got his budget through parliament.

A General Election was called to take place on 5th December, 1910. Thomas Gibson Poole was to be the Conservative Party candidate in the election. It seemed that Poole was bound to lose as the Tories were seen to be trying to halt the redistribution of wealth that was taking place. Poole became convinced that his best chance of victory would be if Middlesbrough beat Sunderland, the club's bitter rivals, in the Football League game that took place on 3rd December 1910.

On the day of the match Poole ordered Andy Walker to offer Charlie Thompson, the captain of Sunderland, £10 for him and plus £2 for each of the players as long as Middlesbrough won the game. Thompson refused to take the money and reported the conversation to Sunderland's trainer, Billy Williams. Middlesbrough won the game 1-0. However, this result did not have the desired political impact and Thomas Gibson Poole lost the election by 3,000 votes.

Billy Williams told Fred Taylor, the chairman of Sunderland, what had happened. The matter was the reported to the Football League. Andy Walker was suspended from football for life. Middlesbrough supporters believed that Walker was only following orders and 12,500 people signed a petition to the FA to reconsider his ban. They refused to do this and Andy Walker was forced out of the game.

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