Harold Walden

10 Oct 1887
2 Dec 1955
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Harold Adrian Walden (10 October 1887, Umballa, India – 2 December 1955, Leeds) was an English amateur football player who competed in the 1912 Summer Olympics.

A centre forward, he began his career at Halifax Town before joining Bradford City in December 1911. He spent four seasons with the Bantams and was the League’s top scorer in 1911–12. That summer, he was part of the English amateur team that represented Great Britain at the Olympic football tournament, winning the gold medal. He played in all three matches and scored eleven goals. He holds the record of being the ‘Highest British goal scorer within the Olympics’ and is still the fourth highest goal scorer overall within the Olympics.

Walden entered the army by joining the Cheshire Regiment in 1902 at the age of 14 1/2 as a drummer boy, and served in India and Ireland. He played for the Army against the Navy in 1910 and 1911, and also served in World War I, for the West Yorkshire Regiment, rising to the rank of captain. After the war ended he joined Arsenal and played six times for the Gunners, twice against Oldham Athletic scoring a single goal and in four friendlies, with his debut coming on 12 February 1921. With just those game to his name, he returned to Bradford at the end of the 1920–21 season.

After retiring from football and the army, he went into the music hall as a variety performer, touring England, Australia, China and India. He made his stage debut while still playing football, in 1919. He had also had a minor film career, which included starring in The Winning Goal, one of the earliest football-related films, in 1920. Also played himself in the film Cup-Tie Honeymoon in 1948. He made at least two 78rpm records, “Ronnie the Robin” b/w “And only me knows why”, on the Imperial label (Imperial 2589), and (from Ernest Binns’ Arcadian Follies), ‘Mother I’m a soldier’ and ‘Only me knows why’ on Parlophone (Parlo. F1552) (The latter reviewed in The Gramophone November 1939). He died in 1955 of a heart attack at Leeds railway station. He is buried at Killingbeck RC Cemetery, York Road, Leeds, Yorkshire.

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