A certain captain: is Tex what the Crows need?

First published 18 January, 2015

18 April 2008

A Friday night at Norwood Oval. Nothing unusual in that. This time, however, my football viewing mortality is staring me down. There’s a pregnant partner at home on the couch, 36 weeks gone, relaxing as best she can as another human being rubs his coccyx on the inside of her ribs. Mobile phone on – check, fully charged – check.

Get to the ground and settle in front of the baseball scoreboard. Good bar access, Dr Tim’s in hand (was he an obstetrician?). Chips and gravy to follow at half time. We survey the team as they warm up in the 50 at the southern end.

‘Number 24, that’s the new lad on the Crows list, Walker. From Broken Hill’
‘Any good?’
‘Dunno, we’ll find out I suppose’
‘Fair lump of a lad’
‘Yep, and he’ll only get bigger’

He lines up deep forward in the first quarter, making long leads searching for the ball. The outclassed midfield provides limited opportunities. Halfway into the quarter he grabs a mark, nice hands, on the 50 towards the Western boundary.

‘Take your time, lad’
‘Can he kick that far?’

He walks back, facing away from the goals.

‘Rookie error, he can’t see the guys leading out’

Wheels around towards the boundary and lets fly from 55.

‘What’s he doing? Yeahhh!’
‘Ha ha ha, the cheeky bugger’

The applause dies down but the crowd continues to burble. Not talking so much about what happened as who and how. This lad is playing his own game from the very first league kick. The Crow that nests in most Redleg hearts sees something.


14 September 2008

Norwood and Port elimination final at the unreconstructed Adelaide Oval. Neither team a genuine premiership threat but that doesn’t matter. It’s the enemy – beating them in a final, any final, the next best thing to a premiership. No footy for me today – four month old baby, not too keen on sleep. At least it’s on the TV. The game passes in a blur, the legs up by 11 points at the break but with two injured on the bench.

‘He’s waking up’
‘Need a feed?’
‘Dunno, probably’
‘No worries, I’ll watch the footy in his room’

Walker is clear – 7 goals and 24 disposals, more long runs up the ground, destruction in his wake. The difference between the teams as Norwood wins by 21. After debeaking the Magpies, whether he likes it or not, Tex is one of us now. Again a glimpse of something special. He plays on his terms, not constrained by others’ expectations. Only his own.


14 September 2012

Four years to the day. Not the best four years. He has learnt to trust the system but doubt himself. The reinvigorated Crows blew a qualifying final against the Swans last week – belief still lacking. When it comes to Tex, Sando is different, though. He understands.

‘You’re in the best 22 – go and play’

He hits the post and then muffs a checkside as the Dockers get out to a five goal lead. Battling self caricature – all ears, beers and mullet. Marks on the boundary, half time siren goes. Unlikely but not impossible. Down by 19 points in a low scoring game, a goal is needed otherwise straight sets indignity awaits. Is it in the script?

‘Can he kick it from there?’

Standing in the Football Park gutter the switch flicks. This is my house, my rules. The ball flies true. The crowd feeds from and reflects his belief.

‘Can we win this from here?’

The second half is a different game. Crows kick eight to four – Walker finishes with five. He also gives off a couple of goals, feeding Tippett like a huge orphaned bird. Gives off a couple of don’t argues while he is at it. Playing without doubt.


22 September 2012

Family BBQ at ours. Dangerfield and Sloane run around the backyard. ‘97 prelim playing in the pre-game, a recipe for success. As if fruit tingles fabric holds memory.

‘Are we a chance today?’
‘Dunno, probably not’

Hawthorn are the better team but don’t kick straight. The umpires clearly believe they should win, as does Cyril when it comes to the crunch. Four points down late in the last – Danger picks up the ball, isolated in the 50. The fastest man in the AFL stumbles, fails to outrun Ben Stratton. A big moment lost. A few minutes later, 11 points down Tex marks at the same spot and makes no mistake – again he is not constrained by what could or should be. Like Cyril he is and does. A losing effort but we learn a bit.


14 January 2015

‘Tex is going to be captain. What do you reckon?’
‘Dunno. He’s more capable of influencing a game than VB. I’ve got no idea what goes on in the clubrooms though.’
‘Do you think that means Danger is going to leave?’
‘This isn’t about him. He knows that.’

About Dave Brown

Upholding the honour of the colony. "Play up Norwoods!"


  1. Tippett as a “huge orphaned bird”. Captures him perfectly.
    As much about Walsh stamping his mark, as about Walker to my mind.
    Crows have been my most underperforming team of the last 2 seasons, relative to their talent. If Walsh can get them putting in and playing as a team, they are top 6 for mind.
    Big IF. My dad (Port supporter) says the Crows should live and train in Oodnadatta, not read the papers or social media, and only fly in for game days. He reckons they are all legends in their own lunchtime thanks to the myopic Adelaide meedja.
    Good one Dave.

  2. Nice recount Dave. Loved how you wove your baby story with the coming of Tex. I’ve been out of the loop, but like his appointment. Reward the guy who’s signed on the line. No doubt some wondered why Sloane or Dangerfield weren’t enticed with the captaincy, but this is a positive statement from Walsh. Offering it to either would have been a sycophantic move which showed the immaturity of the club. I reckon Tex will do well as captain. Thanks.

  3. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I’m still coming to grips with Sando’s departure.

    A bit concerned that we will lose Walker’s individual instinctive intermittent idiosyncratic input as he takes on the task of inspiring the club (not just the team). I don’t want him to start dishing off handballs to wide running flankers in a worse position because it’s the team thing to do.

    At the risk of exhuming Rulebook’s leadership thread, I was expecting Sloan and Dangerfield to get the nod, based on my admittedly limited observations.

    Can deep forwards marshall the troops when the opposition is getting a run on?

    Will all 18 captains now have to wrap their noggins in cling wrap in their annual group photo?

    Is West End Light now the official weekend-off beverage of the AFL?

    Is it good form to publicise the pubs owned by king-making board members?

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Dave , you captured the emotion of the crowd perfectly the murmur around the parade was wow I reckon we’re seeing the start of something special here .
    VB is interesting in that he is hugely respected as a leader with in the footy industry but not a gun as a player I hope he is used properly and played as a tagger .
    Have found it interesting re the criticism of Walker as a public speaker , I think he will be refreshingly honest and not give boring , cliche crap answers . If the crows wished to appoint there captain now it really came down to VB which is a risk also in having missed a year ,Talia or tex it has been stated that he is the leader of the playing group in that he is the guy they gravitate to and the so called spiritual leader is good enough for me and after all he is a redleg thanks , Dave

  5. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Interesting stuff Dave,
    I love the idealism of Tex as Captain Charisma, but Swish’s 6 I’s are telling in the equation as they can be the source of and solution to many of the Crows problems. Would love to see him succeed without it affecting his natural game.

  6. Ben Footner says

    I was surprised by the appointment, but I think it’s a good one.

    Don’t mistake Tex’s laid back persona as laziness or a lack of care factor. It just means he has a good perspective on life and doesn’t let things phase him. He just gets on with it, like all good country folk do.

    I can understand why some Adelaide fans are uncomfortable with the new direction the Club is going in. They are taking risks. A CEO from a Rugby background. Sacking a coach that doesn’t seem to have done a lot wrong. Appointing a captain that often projects a laid back ‘knockabout’ image.

    Personally I’m all for it though. You need to take risks to get the ultimate prize, and it’s not often a premiership is won be being predictable. We’ve spend the last 15 years trying to replicate other teams success. It’s time we made our own.

  7. I’ve loved watching Tex’s career develop ever since witnessing that very first goal at the Parade on that Friday night in 2008. The stranger next to me just looked at me and said ‘Thats that kid from Broken Hill – hes gonna be something special’.

    I love the fact that the Crows have gone with a natural on field leader and not with another media trained puppet like most AFL clubs are doing. Always pick the best on-field leader and appoint him captain! You can teach media skills but you can’t teach natural leadership and force guys to gravitate towards you.

  8. Dave Brown says

    Thanks for the comments all.

    PB – I’m not sure that’s so much an issue anymore. Despite the Crows still getting the lion’s share of column inches, the paper is very much pro-Power these days. They were giving out ‘Yes We Ken’ T-shirts before the prelim last year.

    Mickey – yep, I would struggle to follow a club that had offered captaincy as a lure to sign on the dotted line – guaranteed failure.

    You can guess my answer to most of your questions, Swish. As the the deep forward question, IMO Walker has to play CHF. He needs to have an influence on proceedings equivalent to Pavlich to be an effective on field captain. That said (and also thinking back to Rulebook’s leadership thread) it depends on to what extent he has an enforcer – a team mate that holds the rest of them accountable for their on field actions. Captain can step back if he has an influential enforcer. Oh, and West End light would be a good way to keep players off the turps… or get them into wine.

    Yep, Rulebook. I reckon there is a bit of capital city snobbery about the reaction to Walker’s public speaking. In a similar way to it taking a long time for people in Italy to take Totti seriously because he had a ‘hick’ southern accent.

    Ben, yes, Crows have been conservative for too long. Breeds mediocrity.

    Shane – I love that the two most recent captain appointments are Walker and Murphy. Perhaps there’s room for the character in the AFL after all. Look at what different cats Bassett and McGuinness are and the success they have brought to our beloved club.

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