Former Adelaide teammate Bernie Vince pens a piece about his best mate Taylor Walker ahead of his 200th AFL game against Geelong on Sunday.
When ‘Tex’ rocked up to the club we’d already heard a lot about him.
He was a really skinny kid and had streaky, bleached hair with a rat’s tail.
Our coach at the time ‘Craigy’ (Neil Craig), was traditional and wasn’t sure about it.
I can remember thinking to myself, ‘I wonder what Craigy thinks about this’.
But you could see straight away that he was a genuine bloke with a bit of a cheeky side to him.
If you had have asked me then if he was going to play 200 games and achieve what he has, I would have thought, ‘Shit, that’s a good effort’ based on my first impressions.
But, he was so much more than his questionable haircuts and Tex never forgot where he came from.
Around the footy club he always treated people equally, whether you were the CEO, captain, club volunteers or fans.
That’s something I’ve taken from him as well – it’s an admirable trait.
It wasn’t easy for Tex to break into the side early on and Craigy made sure he had kicked a fair few bags in the SANFL before earning his senior call-up.
Everyone was telling Craigy to just get him in the side, but he made him wait and earn his spot and, to this day, Tex will tell you that helped him develop.
From those early seasons, Tex has grown immensely as a player and a leader.
There are a few guys that can walk into a club and immediately you know they’re destined for leadership but, for most, it develops as time goes on and that’s what happened with Tex.
Even as someone who knew him so well there was still an element of surprise when they named him captain.
I knew he had the potential and I know what he’s like – Tex is a great people’s person and he gets everyone – but from the outside, I could understand why people had questioned it.
Then, he went on to be voted a two-time AFLPA Best Captain by his peers and that’s a pretty big honour.
He took a huge step in terms of his leadership and it was something he worked incredibly hard at – that was something many people didn’t see outside the four walls.
It’s no surprise that he’s been able to achieve a lot in his 200-career games but a memory that stands out was the 2012 semi-final against Fremantle.
We had finished second on the ladder that season and were staring down the barrel of going out in straight sets in the finals after a first week loss to Sydney, but Tex stood up in that semi-final to single-handedly win us the game.
He took the game by the scruff of the neck and pulled us over the line with five goals.
That’s one game that will always stick with me, especially because of the added pressure of a final.
In his third or fourth year, Tex moved in with me and that’s where our friendship really blossomed.
We just got each other.
We’re the type of guys where football probably wasn’t everything for us – as it is for some people.
Football was always going to be a big part of our lives, because it was our job, but we also enjoyed our time away from the game, too.
Tex and I even got in a bit of trouble over the time – nothing too serious – but we certainly had some conversations in Craigy’s office or were spoken to by the footy manager.
It was always pretty light-hearted.
He’s always been a prankster.
Living with him, I never knew what was going to happen.
His famous trick was organising a garage sale early on a weekend morning and advertising all of these great items that people were going to be giving away to draw attention to it.
It would be 8:30am on a Sunday morning when people were wanting to enjoy a sleep in or relax after a game and they’d have random strangers knocking on their doors enquiring about the garage sale.
Tex was always up to that sort of stuff.
There was another time where he got a ton of firewood dumped in the middle of (former Adelaide player) Matthew Jaensch’s driveway.
It was on game day as well so Tex knew they weren’t going to be home to stop it from happening.
You can only imagine coming home after a game to a heap of firewood sitting in your driveway!
People would get the both of us back even though I wasn’t part of it! I’d always ask him, ‘What have you done now?’
Whenever there was anything happening at the footy club everyone’s first thought was, ‘It must be Tex’.
There was another time where the club whiteboard eraser went missing.
It would normally be pretty standard item around a footy club, but Craigy was big on his whiteboard eraser and had a system when it came to how he removed the notes from the board – he’d swipe one way for half of it and the other way for the other half.
His eraser was a big part of his production and one day someone hid it.
We all knew who did it, and so did Tex, but he got the blame.
No one dobbed in the guy that actually hid the eraser and Craigy made us all wait in the meeting room until someone owned up.
He went from the ultimate prankster to being captain of the footy club and I think that in itself shows his development.
Tex has got an incredibly big heart and I’m not sure if people outside the club see that, but he’s the type of guy who is always making sure everyone around him is alright before he is.
He’s always been loyal to the Adelaide Football Club and I think it’s something the fans would appreciate.
He’s had a number of opportunities where he could have left or gone somewhere else, but being a one-club player was something he held really close to his heart.
Tex grew up supporting the Crows and to then go on and not only play for, but captain the club, is a huge honour.
Being one of two teams in South Australia, the fans are a big part of the club and Tex loves them.
He’s always the last guy to leave a function and gives 100 per cent of himself every time.
He’s copped a lot of scrutiny over the years, which I think has been very unfair, but he’s got thick skin and has been able to handle himself with grace.
My family and I are so proud of him for reaching 200 games and what he’s been able to achieve since joining the Crows.
We’re looking forward to what’s ahead.