Bill Walker (Australian footballer)
William Herbert John "Bill" Walker OAM (born 23 February 1942 in Huntly, New Zealand) is a former Australian rules footballer who represented Swan Districts in the West Australian National Football League (WANFL). He was the winner of the 1965, 1966, 1967 and 1970 Sandover Medals.
|Full name||William Herbert John Walker|
|Date of birth||23 February 1942|
|Place of birth||Huntly, New Zealand|
|Original team(s)||Narembeen Football Club (EDFL)|
|1961–76||Swan Districts||305 (457)|
|Representative team honours|
|1962–73||Western Australia||21 (29)|
|1969–71||Swan Districts||63 (14–48–1)|
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1976.
Born in Huntly, New Zealand, Walker grew up in the wheatbelt town of Narembeen. Despite being regarded as perhaps the best country prospect in Western Australia in 1960, Walker’s father thought him too small to be successful at WANFL football. Once all eight WANFL clubs showed interest in him his father suggested Walker (who barracked for West Perth as a boy) should sign with Swan Districts – who underwent a major recruiting program over the 1960-61 off-season alongside the signing of Haydn Bunton junior as captain-coach.
Playing in the grand final in his first season in 1961, Walker kicked 5.5, including the decisive goal, and went on to play in winning grand finals in the next two seasons. He is the only player to have won four Sandover Medals, although his 1970 medal, which had previously been lost on countback to Pat Dalton, was awarded retrospectively by Westar Rules in 1997. Walker had to be coaxed into playing again for each of three seasons after 1965 owing to his farm work and managing a Midland Junction hotel, but it was in this period that Walker reached his peak for a Swan Districts team that was struggling severely owing to the lack of ruckmen of even moderate ability. Between 1969 and 1971 Walker captain-coached Swans with very little success, but his experience was valuable as the black and whites climbed the ladder under Jack Ensor in the following four seasons – during which their scarcity of ruckmen turned into a glut as such future VFL players as Bob Beecroft and Garry Sidebottom joined.
Walker served on Swan Districts’ Board of Directors from 1978 to 1983, and was appointed president of the club in 1983, a role in which he served until 1995. He was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 1982 and life membership of the WAFL in 1985. In 1996 Walker was an inaugural inductee into the Australian Football Hall of Fame and in 2004 he was awarded Legend Status in the West Australian Football Hall of Fame. His son, Greg Walker, played 139 games for Swan Districts, winning the 1990 Simpson Medal.
- "ABC - Bill Walker, a football legend (archived)". 2004. Archived from the original on 9 September 2012. Retrieved 24 July 2008.
- Bassett, Jon; Azzopardi, Joachim (21 September 2007). "Trophy cabinet overflows in Wheatbelt town of Narembeen". AAP. Retrieved 24 July 2008.
- Simunovich, Peter; ‘Bill Walker, Bowing Out Says "Robertson’s Sandover"’; The Sunday Times, 21 July 1968, p. 96
- See Casellas, Ken; ‘Iseger Lifts Perth Attack’; The West Australian, 10 June 1968, p. 28
- Walker Swans Favourite Son – swandistrictsfc.com (archived) Published 3 June 2009. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
- Ross, John (1999). The Australian Football Hall of Fame. Australia: HarperCollinsPublishers. p. 133. ISBN 0-7322-6426-X.
- AFL: Hall of Fame