Swans and Dragons: Ian Walsh

13th March 2018

In a regular website feature, we look back at former Swansea City players who have also turned out for Wales at full international level.

Born in St David’s on September 4, 1958, Ian Patrick Walsh left West Wales for London as a youngster to join Crystal Palace as an apprentice.

He made his Football League debut for the Eagles on his 18th birthday in a 2-1 defeat to Chester City while, a year later, he lined up alongside future internationals including Peter Nicholas, Steve Lovell, Terry Fenwick and Kenny Sansom in their FA Youth Cup final victory over Everton.

Of the 23 goals Walsh scored in 117 league games for Palace between 1976 and 1982, it is his effort in the 2-0 win over Burnley in May 1979 that will live longest in the memory for the Selhurst Park faithful.

Going into the game, the Eagles knew that victory would give them the Second Division title while a draw would secure promotion to the top flight, but defeat would see them remain in the second tier for another season.

Walsh’s powerful header gave Palace the lead with just 14 minutes remaining, before Dave Swindlehurst made sure of the win in the dying seconds.

As a Palace player, Walsh featured in Wales’ under-18 and under-21 teams prior to winning his first senior cap against the Republic of Ireland in September 1979, scoring in the Dragons’ 2-1 victory at Vetch Field.

Just three matches into his international career, the Palace man was on target for his country once again in the famous 4-1 thrashing of England at the Racecourse Ground in the British Home Championship.

From a 4-0 victory over Iceland in June 1980 up to and including a 2-0 triumph against Scotland the following May, Walsh started every game as Wales won six consecutive matches.

He netted five times during this run with braces against Iceland and Scotland, while he was also on target in a 4-0 success over Turkey.

In February 1982, the striker signed for the Swans, who were enjoying their first season in the top flight.

He quickly became a fans’ favourite at Vetch Field, scoring the only goal of the game in a win over Wolverhampton Wanderers that put John Toshack’s side top of the First Division for the first time in their history.

The Swans ended the campaign in sixth place with Walsh netting twice in six appearances.

Walsh won four caps for Wales as a Swans player, which included a 1-0 victory over France in June 1982 – the last of his 18 senior international appearances.

Although he did wear the red shirt on one further occasion, turning out for Wales Under-21s against Bulgaria in April 1983.

Following the Swans’ Welsh Cup triumph in 1982, the club took their place in the European Cup Winners’ Cup going into Walsh’s first full season at Vetch Field.

He bagged an 11-minute hat-trick in the Swans’ 12-0 win over Maltese side Silema Wanderers, whilst also featuring in both legs of the 3-0 aggregate loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the next round.

The 1982-83 season saw the Swans win the Welsh Cup once again, but it proved to be a mere consolation as they were relegated to the Second Division.

The following campaign was also a struggle for the Swans, who suffered their second relegation in as many seasons.

Walsh was the club’s top scorer that term with eight league goals, but was allowed to leave for Barnsley in the summer of 1984 after netting 16 times in 48 matches for the club overall.

Walsh scored 15 goals in 49 league appearances for the Tykes before moving to Grimsby Town, where he netted 13 times in 41 league matches. He then finished his playing career at Cardiff City.

Since hanging up his boots, Walsh has worked for BBC Wales as a commentator and pundit whilst running his own independent financial advisory company.

He is the uncle of former Wales international Simon Davies, who scored six times in 58 appearances for the Dragons between 2001 and 2010.