AustralianFootball.com Celebrating the history of the great Australian game
25 May 1883
17 July 1971 (aged 88)
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 19y 342d
Last game: 31y 40d
Height and weight
Height: 179 cm
Weight: 80 kg
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AFL: 839th player to appear, 974th most games played, 3,217th most goals kickedFitzroy: 89th player to appear, 21st most games played, 186th most goals kicked
In the era of the ruck shepherd, there were few better exponents of the art than Fitzroy's William Walker. An arch purveyor of strong arm tactics, it is more than a little ironic that arguably his proudest moment in football involved the deliberate and conscious eschewing of such an approach. In 1913, Walker captained a vigorous, often fearsomely aggressive Fitzroy team to the minor premiership, followed by an emphatic semi final defeat of Collingwood.
In the Final, however, opponents St Kilda succeeded in notching up a shock win by employing precisely the same kind of exaggeratedly brutal approach as the Roys had been utilising all year. With the shoe on the other foot, so to speak, the Maroons were all at sea, and so for the following week's Challenge Final Walker told his men to avoid rough-house tactics at all costs, whatever the provocation, and concentrate on the ball. His charges obeyed this injunction to the letter, and Fitzroy won a famous victory.
William Walker began with the Maroons in 1903 and gave sterling service in 169 games over the next 12 seasons. In addition to the 1913 premiership, he played in flag-winning sides in 1904-5, and in the losing Grand Finals of 1903 and 1906. Loathed by opponents and opposition supporters, he was hugely respected and admired at Fitzroy, winning the club's 1909 best-and-fairest award and, as alluded to above, captaining the side in his penultimate year.
Author - John Devaney