Goalkeeper Walter Whittaker, signed from Clapton Orient in 1910 had made well over 300 professional appearances for half-a-dozen clubs when he arrived to play two Southern League seasons for Exeter City. Having made around sixty league appearances for the club, illness ruled him out of a game and he never won his place back from Dick Pym. He left Devon to become player-manager of Swansea Town and died of pneumonia in 1917.
After starring in Manchester schools’ football, he joined Newton Heath in 1896 and played three Football League matches before signing for Fairfield Juniors. Returning to the Football League with Grimsby Town in 1897, he appeared in 26 league games ahead of a short spell with Reading and a longer engagement with Blackburn Rovers between 1899 and 1901. Back at Grimsby for a second stint he moved to Derby County in 1903 and, after time at Brentford and Reading (again), signed for Clapton Orient in 1907 where he was to make ninety league appearances.
Known as ‘Big Walt’ he subsequently joined Exeter City in the summer of 1910 and made his debut against Brentford on 3 September 1910. An ever-present during 1910/11 he was struck by injury and illness during the following season and, having already been replaced at times by John Chapman and Bill Crute, suffered a further setback and was replaced by Dick Pym who famously didn’t relinquish his place for the next 186 league games.
Walter Whittaker left Exeter City in 1912 to manage Swansea Town, and later Llanelli, before dying of pneumonia in Swansea on 2 June 1917 aged 38.