TRIBUTES have been paid to a Lancashire comedian who was a favourite in clubs across East Lancashire.
Wandering Walter, a fixture of the East Lancashire club circuit in the 60s, 70s and 80s, died at a nursing home in Preston just before Christmas.
The former Leyland Motors worker, who was 84, landed a spot on the Little and Large television show at the height of his career.
In his early years he was also briefly reserve goalkeeper for Preston North End, in the era of Sir Tom Finney, and was a founder member of their past players’ association.
Ian Rigby, secretary of the Preston North End Former Players Association, said that while he was never a serious challenger to the club’s first-team regulars, he was still proud to have been on the fringes of the side.
He added: “Walter could have easily become a bigger household name on the comedy circuit but he chose to stick around Lancashire, rather than travel the length and breadth of England.
“He worked in engineering at English Electric and Leyland Motors, was a natural performer, who was at his best in front of a live audience, rather than in front of TV cameras.”
Later in life he suffered from diabetes and lost both of his legs to the condition.
He also suffered from dementia and was a resident at Preston’s Sherwood Court home.
Stand-up comedian Jim Bowen, a former pupil of Accrington Grammar School, said: “He was a big star in Lancashire when I was just starting out.
“A lot of Lancashire comedians copied him.
“He had his own style and he was a very funny man.
“He was a well-respected comic and was somebody that I admired very much.”
Wit of Walter
- On the way home, we saw this farmer wrestling this sheep in the field, I said are you shearing, ‘No’ he said, ‘go find your own’.
- I was a great footballer you know. In 1956 I was up for footballer of the year and I said to the missus ‘You could be sleeping with the Footballer of the Year tonight. We got to the ceremony and the announcer said: In third place, Tom Finney, in second place, Wandering Walter, in first place, Stanley Matthews. My missus said: ‘Is Stanley Matthews coming here or do I need to go to him?’
- I was walking past Deepdale one evening in July and noticed that the floodlights were on. Since it was still the close season I thought this was unusual and so I asked a steward if he knew who was playing? He said it was the annual charity match between the Freemasons and the Knights of St Columba. ‘Oh right,’ I said, ‘who’s winning?’ ‘Don’t know’ he said, ‘it’s a secret.’
- I was at a football do, and got talking to Jimmy Greaves. He said ‘Well Walter, what about football in Preston?’ ‘What a good idea’, said I.
- I was dancing one night at the farmers’ ball dance at Preston Public Hall when suddenly chairs and tables started flying. My girlfriend said. ‘Aren’t farmers balls rough.’ I said, ‘It’s the trousers they wear.’