Neal Walton – Bay legend of the 1960’s

Report by Julian Tyley

One of the finest players ever to wear a Whitley Bay shirt, Neal Walton, has passed away after a long illness. He was 85. His wife Ann died four days later.

Older Bay fans will remember Neal as a tall and powerful member of the enormously successful Whitley Bay side of the 1960's, when the club won the Northern League championship twice in successive years as well as the League Cup and on six occasions the Northumberland Senior Cup.  The club twice reached the semi finals of the old FA Amateur Cup and in the Quarter Final of 1965 he scored with a tremendous 30 yard shot, albeit in a losing cause, against eventual winners Hendon in front of the record Hillheads crowd of 7,301.

Neal made a total of 420 appearances for the club, initially as an inside right wearing the number 8 shirt, before moving to right half, what we would now call a midfield role. Remarkably for someone playing much of his career in that position, he scored 102 goals, one of only seven Bay players ever to join 'the 100 club'.  The others to reach that landmark are Ray Oliver, Billy Wright, John Gatens and more recently Ian Chandler, Lee Kerr and Paul Chow.

Neal joined the club in 1959 from Durham City and was a member of the Walton, Oakley, Ramshaw half back line that played together season after season during the 1960's, something that would be unimaginable in the modern era. He was the club's Player of the Year in 1967. He gained numerous representative honours, regularly playing for the Northumberland FA side and the Middlesex Wanderers, a national touring team. He attracted the interest of football League clubs but remained loyal to the Bay for more than ten years, becoming a favourite among the fans, with many of his goals coming from headers.

On leaving Hillheads in 1970, Neal returned to his former club Durham City but always retained links with Whitley Bay, regularly attending reunion nights well into his 70's.

A true Bay legend, he will be fondly remembered by all those who saw him play. A joint funeral for Neal and Ann will take place at Durham Crematorium on Tuesday 19th March at 1pm.

  • The team photo shows Neal, third from the left in the back row alongside Brian Oakley and George Ramshaw, with Billy Wright directly in front of him
  • The newspaper report, signed by Neal shows one of his legendary headed goals v Ferryhill Athletic in the FA Amateur Cup
  • the 2007 photo of the '100 club' members taken in 2008 shows Neal, far right. The other four at that time were (left to right) Billy Wright, John Gatens, Ian Chandler and Ray Oliver.
  • the 2008 photo includes 6th member of the 100 club, Lee Kerr
  • cartoon by Dudley Hallwood is from FA Amateur Cup tie v Harrogate & District Railways 1961



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