WALKER NOT A GRADE, NEVER WILL BE

Enigmatic Adelaide forward Taylor Walker will never be an A-grader. A big statement, but it is true.

The boy from Broken Hill does not fit into the A-grade category, according to the locals at the Barrier town (Broken Hill is on the Barrier Range).  To be an A-grader one has to be born in Broken Hill and have lived there all his life. You can leave on a sabbatical but you must return within a certain period of time. Young Taylor might not be an A-grader but he is the local hero all the same.

Taylor is the third in a family of four. He was born in Adelaide and the family moved to the tin capital of the world when he was a youngster. He can only ever be classed as a B-grader in the eyes of the union men and women no matter how far his football attributes take him.

Mum runs a hairdressing salon and Dad has his own coffee shop in the centre of town. Dad’s name is Wayne but he’s known as Wacky. Wacky Walker was a top footballer in his days with in the Broken Hill league; he’s the only player to have won league best and fairest awards in three decades (1979, ‘83 and ‘91). He won four in all. He had a run in the SANFL but returned home disenchanted with the big city, as is the wont of many Barrier people.

Taylor, like most young blokes from the country, is a very likeable lad, with a ready smile and a kind word when he sees you. I am sure, despite appearances, that he does worry about his game and his lack of instant success. Remember, three years ago he was a boy from the outback who was not very street-wise. His sometimes superior air on the ground riles people, but off the ground he is good company and he loves a chat

In today’s game you are either an A, B or C grader, according to the ex-players in the media, and it is hard to say where Taylor will finish let alone were he is now.  He must turn the hair of his coaches grey as some days he is sublime and the next he is mediocre.

In Chris McDermott’s weekly column in the Adelaide Advertiser last week, he rated all the Crows players’ performances this year and he gave Taylor only a C.

One thing that the Tin Man has going for him is his exquisite kicking style. His 78% conversion must be one of the best in the competition. His kicking for goal from distance is second to none, and his goal against the Dockers from outside 50 a few weeks ago stands out amongst the many he has kicked in his two seasons with the Crows.

Taylor’s main problem at the moment is his lack of consistency and his occasional inability to make a contest.  He is like a young colt coming up for barrier trials for the first time – shall I go in or will I just wait? He’s also playing second fiddle to power forward Kurt Tippett, who is the Crows’ go-to man. If Tippett is around, Taylor hangs back and waits for the scraps.

His biggest problem is his lack of chasing, which sends the Crow supporters into palpitations when you compare him with the likes of Pat Dangerfield and Richard Douglas, who chase everything.  Taylor needs to look at the most wonderful chase that I have ever seen: when Jason Dunstall ran down an opponent on the wing in a game for Hawthorn against Geelong. Even the slowest of the slow, Peter Hudson, was renowned for his chasing.  Perhaps Taylor has information overload and worries about the coaches’ instructions instead of using his natural instincts.

Key forwards are born and not made and Taylor has what it takes to make it to the top. He just needs nurturing. Heaven help the Crows if at the end of the year they offer him up for trade bait. I for one will be coming after them!

Taylor has a great future with the Crows. The club and its supporters just need to be patient. The goals will come. The next Modra is on the rise.

About Bob Utber

At 75 years of age, ‘Citrus Bob’ Utber is doing what he wanted to do as a 14-year old: writing, talking and watching sport. How good is that!?!

He lives in Mildura with his wife and ‘furry kids’; a labradoodle “Freddy Flintoff” and a groodle named “Chloe on Flinders”.

Comments

  1. Rocket Rod Gillett says:

    If young Walker has all the personal characteristics of his father he’ll be a super-star!

    Wacky is a terrific fellow who could also play pretty well.

    Such was his commitment to playing the game at the highest level he could he always made him available for State selection – for the match against the VFA in Albury in 1987 he drove across from Broken Hill – there were only 3 flights per week from Sydney to Broken Hill – and he wouldn’t have got to the game on time.

    He was one of the stars in the NSW win over a very strong VFA line-up under Terry Wheeler.

  2. Wonderful story, Bob.

    I’ll watch with interest Taylor Walker’s career from now on.

    I love the detail you put in your previous piece, about Pat Dangerfield, in which you painted a vivid picture of the two young friends.

    In a divide that reflects Australia, you mentioned the fact that when they came together at Adelaide, Dangerfield was a coastal boy from Moggs Creek whose life had been based around the sea while Walker had never seen the sea before moving from Broken Hill.

    It’s a big country.

  3. Pamela Sherpa says:

    This kid has a lot going for him – being able to kick well and a relaxed country attitude. I hope he continues to do well.

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