Australian Football

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Key Facts

Full name
Kenneth Walker

Known as
Ken Walker

Born
17 October 1919

Died
25 July 2013 (aged 93)

Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 18y 239d
Last game: 25y 319d

Height and weight
Height: 183 cm
Weight: 83 kg

Senior clubs
Preston; St. Kilda; Launceston

Jumper numbers
St. Kilda: 21

Ken Walker

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV
PrestonVFA1936-1937
St. KildaV/AFL1938-1945109810.7428%3
Burnie TigersNWFU1946
LauncestonNTFA1947-1949
BenallaOMFL1950-1951
Total1936-1951109810.74

AFL: 4,629th player to appear, 2,132nd most games played, 1,313th most goals kickedSt. Kilda: 757th player to appear, 114th most games played, 70th most goals kicked

Originally from Bendigo, Ken Walker joined VFA side Preston in 1936 as a teenager and spent a couple of seasons on the Bullants' forward line before seeking a clearance to St Kilda in the VFL at the beginning of the 1938 season. The clearance was initially denied, but Preston eventually acceded and Walker made his debut for the Saints as an 18-year-old in mid-1938. 

Named at centre-half forward, Walker kicked 0.2 in that first match, a heavy defeat at the hands of Essendon, but he showed enough to retain his place the following week. All up Walker played four games in his first year at Junction Oval, kicking four goals. By early the following season, he was regular member of the side, although he was surprisingly omitted after Round 6, perhaps as punishment for his inaccuracy in front of goal — he had kicked 1.5 in the Saints' win over Geelong.

Back in favour a couple of months later, Walker rejoined the first XVIII  and did not miss a beat from there. Neither did St Kilda, who won their way through to the 1939 Preliminary Final, in which they matched Collingwood for three quarters before being beaten virtually single-handedly by Magpie Ron Todd, who kicked 11 goals. 

Over the next six years, Walker went from strength to strength, firstly as a key forward, and later at full back and in the back pocket. It was as a backman that Walker won consecutive club best and fairest awards in 1942 and 1943, and he continued to make fine contributions for the Saints through until the end of the 1945 season.

At the conclusion of that season, with 109 VFL games under his belt, Ken Walker was made an offer he couldn't refuse: captain-coach role of Burnie in Tasmania, with a princely pay packet of ₤9 per week. He promptly took the Tigers to a Grand Final, which they lost narrowly to Ulverstone.

After just one season, Walker was on the move again, appointed 1947 captain-coach of Launceston in the NTFA, a position he held for three seasons before he returned to Victoria at the start of the 1950 season to captain-coach Benalla. He led the Demons for two seasons before finally hanging up the boots at the end of 1951, aged 32.

Ken Walker sadly did not experience premiership success in his playing days, but he continued to make great contributions to the game after they ended. He later coached St Kilda's reserves side, and then then became a recruiter for the Saints. His greatest achievement in that role was the recruitment of Tony Lockett, who went on to become a Legend of the club. Walker himself was inducted into the St Kilda Hall of Fame in 2010 on the very night Lockett's "Legend" status was conferred.¹

Author - Andrew Gigacz

Footnotes

1. Vale Ken Walker, by Luke Holmesby, July 26, 2013. Link: https://www.saints.com.au/news/2013-07-26/vale-ken-walker

Sources

The Age, The Argus, The Launceston Examiner, The Benalla Ensign, saints.com.au

Footnotes

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