• Tue
  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 6:08am
SportHong Kong

'Big Man' Walter Gerrard, former professional footballer, dies aged 70

The former Hong Kong Rangers star was one of the pioneers of professional football in the city

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 April, 2014, 8:45pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 April, 2014, 2:07am

Chinese fans called him the "Water Buffalo" because of his enormous frame, everyone else just called him the "Big Man". Walter Gerrard, a pioneer of professional football in Hong Kong, died on Sunday morning in Queen Mary Hospital after his health deteriorated.

Legends are not born, they have to earn that title, and Walter carried that distinction in spades. He loved Hong Kong, the people and the opportunity it gave him in life and most importantly, it was where he met his wife, Barbara, and raised their two boys, Andrew and Stuart.

Walter, who celebrated his 70th birthday last November, was born in Glasgow and never lost his accent - he cultivated it and was very proud to do so. He arrived in Hong Kong on September 10, 1970, along with myself and Jackie Trainer. We were the first three British professional footballers in Asia.

Walter arrived to play for Hong Kong Rangers, having previously played for Berwick Rangers. He was on the bench when they pulled off the shock of the century in Scottish football as the little Gers beat Glasgow Rangers 1-0 in 1967 and dumped them out of the Scottish Cup in the first round.

Walter played in the next round against Hibs in front of 30,000 people and unluckily lost by a solitary goal.

In his first season with Rangers in Hong Kong, he notched 30 goals, helped them win the league and the Senior Shield.

In his first season with Rangers in Hong Kong, he notched 30 goals, helped them win the league and the Senior Shield
Derek Currie

As a centre forward his heading ability was second to none and he could knock a ball from his head 10, 20 or 30 metres to a teammate's feet.

Walter joined Seiko in 1972 and his success continued. He had spells with Caroline Hill before returning to champions Seiko as assistant coach.

Had it not been for his hard work to light the way, the city might not have seen the glory days and countless professionals who followed in his footsteps.

There were many countless stories when the Big Man was around, but the one I loved the best was when he played against Brazilian club Santos.

Late in the game there were two substitutions, Santos substituted the great Pele at the same time as Gerrard was substituted by Caroline Hill.

As they walked off the field, Walter put his arm around Pele and said: "Pele, these coaches don't know a good footballer when they see one." Priceless.

When Walter retired, he became involved in the wines and spirits industry where he became very successful, latterly with Fine Vintage Wines. He achieved all that from hard work, honesty and the network he had built up over the years.

But if truth be told, everybody loved the character he was. A good singer, he could entertain at the drop of a hat.

He touched a lot of people's lives in Hong Kong. You name it, Walter did it, including cameo roles in Chinese movies and training the Hong Kong Football Club rugby team. Larger than life, he crossed paths with many sportsman.

It is a good Scottish tradition to honour the memory of a good man rather than to mourn his passing and Walter gave many countless memories.

Derek Currie was a professional player in Hong Kong


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Walter was a larger than life character that hit Hongkong like a typhoon when he first arrived to play for Hongkong Rangers on the 10th September 1970 along with Derek and myself. Walter was integral to not only the success of Rangers but to the start of professional football in Hongkong and created the pathway for many other overseas players to follow.
We all three joined up again with Seiko to enjoy further success and I spent three great years living with the "Big Man" in Tin Hau Temple Road. Walter was a great friend and I look back on the many great occasions I spent in his company whether it be parties or functions or on one of the many
pub crawls we enjoyed together and people would have paid money to be in his company and be entertained.
Walter we will always remember you with great fondness and affection and your presence will still be felt by those who knew you well.
Jackie & Kathryn Trainer & Family
Walter was a friend of my parents, and would knock on our door on the 24th December, dressed as Santa at my Mum's request. He would change on the fire escape and one year, he made it, although Santa's boots didn't, and he braved it in bare feet. Even to a 6 year old, his feet were unmistakable, and I pulled my Mum aside for a heart to heart after Santa had dropped his presents off. RIP, Walter! ****
Joyce Fricsay-Cioaca
Hugh McCrory
Walter was the best man at my wedding in HK in 1978. Our day was postponed due to a typhoon. On the following day we were married during the aftermath of the typhoon. The reception was at the Hong Kong football club where he sang to us. Walter drove us from there to our hotel in a mini minor in torrential rain. “I wish it would just ease off into a downpour” was his comment.
Since moving to Sydney Walter sent me a tape with a birthday message and of course the guitar was out as he sang me a song for my 50th birthday. I have many fond memories playing against the Buffalo in Hong Kong against Seiko when I played for HK Rangers. It was Walter who was instrumental in my transfer to Seiko when he was the Assistant coach there. He was a larger than life character of which I had the pleasure to know and will hold those memories for ever.

Hugh McCrory
I am out in the North Sea on an Oil Platform, halfway between the Shetlands and Norway, and I have just heard the sad, sad news that Walter has passed away.
One of the lads (a Glasgow boy) has just come off the Helicopter and told me. That’s fame for you, even after all these years in Hong Kong, Walter is still known and loved back home in Scotland.
I first met Walter in 1973 along with Jackie and Derek. I had the great pleasure of being friends with all three. My great friends Koo Luam Khen and Davy Breen, whom I still keep in touch with, introduced me to them. The memories have just come flooding back of the times at the “Eagle’s Nest flat” at Causeway Bay, and the nights out after the games, absolutely priceless. These are times I will never forget.
As that great Scottish saying goes, “we will never see yer likes again”.
God Bless you “Big Man”.
My thoughts are with Barbara and the boys. R.I.P.
Jim Savage.
A true legend and not just in Hong Kong as Jim Savage says. Always willing to give advice to all the younger players who came to play in HK football. A larger than life character with the personality to match. A true entertainer and friend to many and will be sadly missed. Sleep well Big Man. Condolences to Barbara and the family from Jim Liddell
As a young football fan I looked upon Walter as a hero on the pitch when he arrived in 1970 to play for Rangers. Our family also being from Glasgow, my parents and he became friends, and as Joyce has said, he was great with kids so my brother and I always got a pat on the head whenever we saw him. As I got older and started playing football myself, I got to know Walter (and Derek and Hugh) and although they were in a different world to me in ability, they were always encouraging and it was a dream to play alongside these guys in friendly games or a kick about at the HK Football Club. I remember when I was attending a PE session in Happy Valley, and as we were leaving Walter and Derek arrived with singer Rod Stewart and Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood and a football. I just looked on in awe - and the lasting memory of the moment for me was looking at Walter (and Derek) and thinking to myself "they're friends of my folks".
Walter will be very much missed by all who knew him.
Tom Banks
Gilbert Lo
This is a sad story indeed. I used to live at the apartment building on Tin Hau Temple Road mentioned in Jackie Trainer's comment below when I was a kid. I must have been 6-7 years old when Walter "Buffalo" Gerard and Derek "Jesus" Currie lived on the 21st Floor. I don't really remember Jackie Trainer living there though. My two older brothers and I were big football fans then, and it was surreal to be living in the same building with two real-life football stars. One thing which really stood out in my memory was that both Walter and Derek were always very polite to my late grandmother, and would always try to greet her in their broken Chinese. Great guys. R.I.P. Buffalo.


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