Australian Football

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Key Facts

Full name
William Herbert John Walker

Known as
Bill Walker

Born
23 February 1942 (age 80)

Place of birth
New Zealand (Huntly)

Height and weight
Height: 172 cm
Weight: 73 kg

Senior clubs
Swan Districts

State of origin
New Zealand (Huntly)

Hall of fame
Australian Football Hall of Fame (1996); Western Australian Football Hall Of Fame (2004) Legend

Family links
Greg Walker (Son)

Bill Walker


ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV
Swan DistrictsWANFL1961-19763054621.51
Total1961-19763054621.51

Watching recordings of matches played as long ago as the 1960s only a few players immediately catch the eye as possessing the attributes necessary for success in modern day, professional football. One such player is Bill Walker, who combined an uncanny sense of knowing where the ball was, and how to get it, with a rare, fastidious intelligence in its disposal (albeit that, when kicking, he tended to favour either the drop kick or the stab pass, a 'frailty' which a 21st-century coaching team would no doubt waste little time in eradicating).

Walker, who was born at Huntley in New Zealand, made his debut with Swans in 1961 and over the course of the next 16 seasons would go on to play a record 305 games for the club. His arrival at Bassendean coincided with that of Haydn Bunton Jnr, who, in his first three years in Western Australian football, would be responsible for masterminding the club's first three premierships. Bunton also shared the roving duties with Walker, who kicked 5.5 in Swans' debut premiership win in 1961, and was an integral member of the side as it established a new benchmark for football in the state.

Ultimately, Swan Districts' pre-eminence could not last, but Walker remained at the forefront of the game throughout his career. Sandover Medallist three years in a row from 1965 to 1967, he was later awarded a fourth Medal (that of 1970) as part of the Westar Rules hierarchy's decision, in 1997, to ape the VFL by bestowing retrospective Medals on those players who had lost only on countback, or on the casting vote of the league president. Bill Walker thus shares with Russell Ebert the record of having won four separate major state awards in the same competition. 

When at the height of his prowess, between 1965 and 1970, it would be hard to dispute the contention that Walker was the finest player in the land. Apart from his four Sandovers, he finished second and fifth in the other two seasons, averaging 19.3 votes per year; he was Swan Districts' club champion every year but one; and in interstate games (of which he played 21) he was almost invariably named in Western Australia's best players, winning a Simpson Medal against South Australia at Subiaco in 1967.

Often mentioned in the same breath as another superlative Western Australian rover, Barry Cable, Walker shared many of the same attributes, but had an edge in pace, which arguably made him the more damaging player. Not surprisingly, Bill Walker was chosen as first rover in the official Swan Districts 'Team of the Century'. He continued to contribute immensely to the club he loved long after his retirement as a player, most notably between 1983 and part way through 1995 when he served as president.

Author - John Devaney

Sources

Full Points Footy's WA Football Companion

Footnotes

* Behinds calculated from the 1965 season on.
+ Score at the end of extra time.