Tex’s Struggles Since 2012
By William Clemente
He was the next big thing leading into the 2013 AFL Season. Taylor walker had just kicked a huge 63 goals, finished 2nd in the Coleman medal count behind spearhead Lance Franklin, nominated in the All-Australian squad of 40 but was seen by many as stiff to miss out being selected in the final 22 of 2012 All-Australian team. His solid contested marking, powerful, accurate and overall effortless goalkicking and his general football nous had many comparing him to the great Wayne Carey from days gone by as that general in centre half-forward, being a significant intimidating presence and bringing his teammates into the game as a result. However, in the round 5 game against Carlton of the 2013 season, Taylor “Tex” Walker suffered an ACL injury which ruled him out for the remainder of the season, requiring a full reconstruction and not returning to the side again until round 9 the following season. His injury greatly affected his and his team’s development for the ensuing 2 years as the Adelaide Crows endured highly inconsistent 2013/2014 seasons and failed to gain and develop a temporary key forward in the absence of Walker. There was much hype leading into that 2013 season for Walker with many expecting him to become the next power key forward but once he returned in round 9 of the 2014 season it took Walker some time to get his confidence back, not only in his kicking but his overall football skills, often appearing nervous when leaping for the ball with speculation that he feared re-doing his ACL. Entering the 2015 season, Walker was appointed the new captain of the Adelaide Football Club, replacing Nathan Van Berlo. Despite getting off to a solid start, Walker again struggled with his contested marking often relying on perfect delivery from the midfield in order for him to present well and hit the scoreboard, he still kicked 59 goals for the year and finished fourth in the Coleman Medal count. The jury was still out on the newly appointed Adelaide skipper as many still felt he had further steps to take in order to become the true champion he was originally seen to be. An example of this was his failure to stand up in big games when his side was heavily challenged. Questions and queries would follow Walker in every ensuing season despite leading his side up the ladder in 2016 and then finishing on top and further inspiring a Grand Final berth in 2017. He was also awarded the AFL’s best captain in 2016/2017 however, Walker’s Crows lost the Grand Final to Richmond by 48 points despite going into the contest as heavy favourites. He was strongly criticised for his performance and even for the brevity of his post-match speech. He came under further scrutiny for his lambasting of teammate Jake Lever’s post-season departure to Melbourne, claiming the defender chose money over success. Overall, the man they call “Tex” has had a fascinating career. Highlighted by flashes of freakish brilliance then strongly countered by periods of frustrating inconsistency. He has however become the Adelaide Crows all-time leading goalkicker surpassing the great Tony Modra’s 440 goals in round 18 against Richmond this season. This all begs the question? How will Taylor Walker go down in Adelaide Crows history and more broadly football history? He has after all been the subject of much critical analysis since his breakout 2012 season. He’s been lauded in some circles and heavily scrutinised in others but in the end, what makes Taylor Walker a unique icon is his unbridled resilience.