Broken Hill’s longest serving AFL footballer, Taylor “Tex” Walker, has a one-on-one chat with Barrier Truth correspondent in Adelaide, Peter Argent, ahead of his milestone 250th game at Adelaide Oval on Saturday.
Having made his debut in round one, 2009 at the MCG in a thrilling four-point win against Collingwood, his 100th game at the Sydney Cricket Ground in round 18, 2015 and the landmark 200th match against Geelong in the Covid-affected winter of 2020, it is pleasing that today Walker will have a large contingent of Broken Hill support for his 250th match at Adelaide Oval, against the West Coast Eagles.
“Yes I had to find a hundred tickets for the game,” Walker laughed.
“I see myself as a representation of my family and friends and it will be wonderful to have a large contingent from home at the game. This week I’ve had a bit of time to reflect on my journey.
“The first thing I’d tell a 19 year-old Taylor is, ‘it goes bloody quickly’.
“In lots of ways it’s been an incredible ride for a lad from Willyama High School. When I was in my scholarship period with the Crows and would have to do extra training at North, mates from home had no hesitation of coming out and doing the work with me. Looking back that was really special and something I’ve never forgotten.
“I’ve developed and enjoyed many amazing friendships along the way. There has also been injuries, loss, form slumps and other issues as well. It builds up your …and makes you resilient.”
When asked about the press conference after his initial game back in 2009, that the author attended, Taylor recalls, “that skinny kid was about 25kgs lighter and had blond tips in his hair. Some might not agree, but I have matured a bit since then.
“There is still a bit of that country lad from Broken Hill in me.”
Walker was given the captaincy of the Crows in 2015 by the late Phil Walsh, and suggests he would have loved to have been able to invite him to his 250th, explaining Walsh has done plenty for Tex and his family, before his untimely passing.
On the field, Walker was a part of the Adelaide Crows side under Brenton Sanderson that lost the 2012 Preliminary Final to Hawthorn by five points, personally kicking four goals in that heartbreaking loss, and the 2017 penultimate game against Geelong on home turf.
“You just have to lick your wounds and move on,” Walker says.
“We did get a win in the preliminary final of 2017, but bowed out of Grand Final. That preliminary final win, along with the Phil Walsh Showdown match and obviously my debut, will live long in my memory. The big game and the finals are the ones that stick.
“I’d love to be a part of another big finals’ run with the Crows before it’s over.”
Adelaide contract at 16
An A-Grade premiership player with North Broken Hill and All-Australian Under 18s player with the NSW/ACT Rams back in 2007, Walker was gift selection by the Crows after having a NSW Scholarship contract with Adelaide at the age of 16. They grabbed him under the rules at the time, at the bargain basement selection of pick number 75.
He then had a full season playing with Norwood in SANFL in 2008, kicking 56 goals, including seven in a final and, “despite patience not being one of my strong suites,” Walker suggested it, “was a great development year and that winter played an important role in my development, learning what ‘Craigy’ (senior coach Neil Craig) and the coaching staff were trying to teach me.”
Walker has set himself up for that post career life, having been involved a range of things, including coaching, media, business and study.
Today – Saturday, June 10 – Walker will run through the Crows banner holding his seven and a half month old daughter Harriet (who he has to change the nappy of before our interview), alongside sons Louis (three and a half) and Hugo (two and a half).
Expect the post-game celebrations to be boisterous and to include a ‘cleansing ale’ or two!