He started his career as a halfback with a local team Heeley Friends and joined Wednesday in 1905. The transfer fee was £10.00. His first season was played solely in the reserves and the following two he made just a few appearances mainly due to injuries to the regular half back Tommy Crawshaw. Walter made his debut in the 1-0 away defeat at Preston North End on 26th January 1907 and went on to make a further five appearances that season. The following season he played in a further eight games. However the 1908 – 1909 season seems to be the season when Walter finally established himself in the Wednesday first team. The reason for this was his switch to left back position where he was in direct competition with Harry Burton. He appeared 26 times for the Owls that season and recorded the same number of appearances the following season. Some of the games he played at right back. He was a regular in the 1909- 1910 season, the “highlight” of which was his sending off in the 1910 March local derby match with Sheffield United.
His last season at Hillsborough was in 1910 – 1911 when he made 20 appearances. His last game was on 11th February 1911 in the 3 – 0 away defeat at Liverpool. “The Wednesday Boys” by Jason Dickinson and John Brodie, reveal that Walter’s career ended in dispute with the club. Walter demanded that his benefit game be played before Christmas 1910 instead of after as was the custom at the time. (a game after Xmas always meant smaller crowds).
During his time there, he recorded a total of 89 appearances but did not score a single goal. Of the 89 games, Wednesday won 31 of them, drew 19 and lost 39.
After leaving Sheffield Wednesday, he was transferred to Everton for £500. Walter made 11 appearances for Everton in the 1911 – 1912 season and a further 7 the following season, again without scoring. His appearances were restricted due to a series of knee injuries. After Everton he went to the Scottish club St Mirren. but returned to England shortly after as his wife could not settle in Scotland.
He finished his playing career with Preston North End and Southport Central in 1915. After he left the game Walter became a racecourse bookmaker and it was as a result of this that Walter met his death.
In the Times dated June 20th 1930, there is a report of an Inquest that was held the previous evening (19th June 1930)
DEATH BY LIGHTNING AT ASCOT
At the inquest at Ascot last night on the body of WALTER HOLBEM, of Ribble Avenue, Southport, a bookmaker who was killed by lightning on Wednesday while standing in the Tattersalls, Ring, it was stated that there were no witnesses to the actual occurrence. Dr W.H. Brown of St Mary’s Hospital, London who was on duty behind the grandstand said that Holbem, was gasping for breath when he was brought in, and died almost immediately. His condition was consistent with his having been struck by lightning. The only mark on his body was an abrasion of the skin on his Adam’s apple. Samuel McClarence, who was employed by Holbem, said that he ran for shelter from the rain leaving Holbem standng under his umbrella. Two minutes afterwards he saw him being carried away. A verdict of “Accidental death” was returned.
Career: Heeley Friends; Sheffield Wednesday 1905; Everton 1911; St Mirren; Preston North End; Southport 1915