Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Vale Walter Sidney Worsey (19 April 1934 - 11 March 2022)

Photo:  Walter Worsey at a Rapid reunion in 2008. [PlessPix]

Walter Worsey, one of the greatest  -  if not the greatest  -  strikers the Tasmanian game has ever seen, has passed away in Hobart aged 87.

Worsey was from Kirkcaldy, in Fyfe, Scotland, and arrived in Tasmania in 1957 as a 23-year-old.

He scored a record 63 goals in his first season in Tasmania for Caledonians and by 1965 had a tally of 300 goals to his name.

In his second season in Tasmania, he netted 52 goals for Caledonians.

By 1965, he had also amassed 40 goals in interstate and intrastate representative games and in cup matches.

He played for Tasmania 11 times  -  against Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland, and English first division side Chelsea.

Tasmania scored 9 goals in total in these games and he netted 6 of them.

Photo:  Walter Worsey (second from right) with Tasmania team-mates (L-R) Dan Rawlins, Billy MacMillan, Jim Hunter and goalkeeper Bob Ferguson at a cricket match in Adelaide while at an interstate football tournment in 1961. [Photo courtesy of Walter Worsey]  

He was the best and fairest Tasmanian player against South Australia at Queenborough in Sandy Bay in 1962.

In one of Tasmania’s finest performances, Worsey scored a hat-trick against Victoria in a 3-3 draw at South Hobart in the Australia Cup.

He was lucky to have played at all in that game.

An officious gate-keeper didn’t recognise him and refused to let him into the South Hobart ground at the player’s entrance, which is in Wentworth Street at the back of the large grandstand at the southern end of the ground and which is still used today.

Worsey had come to South Hobart by bus, as was his wont in those days, but he had forgotten his player’s pass and, despite explaining to the gatekeeper that he was Tasmania’s centre-forward for the game against Victoria, the official refused to let him in.

He was on the point of turning around and leaving to catch a bus home when Vic Tuting, the president of the Tasmanian Soccer Federation and a vice-president of the Australian Soccer Federation, noticed the impasse at the gate.  Tuting explained to the gatekeeper that he was the TSF president and he was authorising Worsey, the State team’s centre-forward, to be granted admission to the ground.

The official still procrastinated for a while but eventually succumbed to authority and let Worsey in.

Worsey played the game of his life in the heavy conditions and gave the Victorian defence a bath and netted a hat-trick in the 3-3 draw.

The teams met again two days later in a reply at Sandy Bay in dry conditions and Tasmania lost 3-0.  The Victorians had learned their lesson and Worsey was tightly marked and was unable to make an impact.

He won three State titles with three different clubs  -  Caledonians, Rangers and Rapid.

Photo:  Walter Worsey (second from right) with his arm draped over a team-mate in a 1960 championship-winning Caledonians side. 

He scored 6 goals in a game twice in the one season.

He scored 191 goals in five seasons at one time.

As well as being a marvellous goalscorer, Worsey was a professional sprinter and won both the Rosebery and the St Helen’s Gift races.

He was as fast as the wind and it was his speed and superb finishing which made him such an accomplished goalscorer.

While doing national service in the UK before coming to Australia, he had been offered a trial by West Ham United.

He returned home on holiday in 1959 and played some matches there for his local club. He was spotted by talent scouts from Bury and Dunfermline but their interest waned when they realised he was only on holiday and was returning to Australia.

He also played for Hobart Juventus in two spells and was the league's top scorer in 1965 when he was with Juventus.

Worsey, who worked for the State Government in the Justice Department’s courts system, served as an administrator in various roles with the Tasmanian Soccer Association after his retirement.

He also turned his hand to coaching and was coach of Croatia Glenorchy (Glenorchy Knights) for a couple of seasons in the mid-1970s.  I got to know him well at that time as I was coaching Croatia’s under-17s at the time.

His wife, Sylvia, was from Bothwell.  They were married in 1958 and the two of them regularly played golf together after his retirement.

Up until even recently, being a true Scotsman, he confided to me that he would have a dram of whisky each evening and look fondly at a photograph of his late wife.  The two had been inseparable.

Worsey swam most days at a pool even now and kept himself fit.

He was not only a brilliant footballer, but he was a gentleman both on and off the field.

I can only hope that Football Tasmania and the clubs he played for recognise him appropriately on the opening day of the league season next weekend with, perhaps, a minute’s silence.



Paul said...

Fantastic article Walter. I still find it hard to believe that with all the Tasmanians who played in Australia or Australia 'B' matches in the late 50s and 60s, that Worsey missed out. One of Tasmania's best, and a certainty for any future Hall of Fame.

Unknown said...

Hi Mr Pless,

Thank you for this article. I am Walter’s grand-daughter, he always said any success my sister or I had on the hockey field was always because of his speed and sporting genes! Whilst he told us stories and showed us photos this article is a beautiful, informative summary of his sporting achievements.

Thank you from my family,
Brigit Ikin