Adelaide captain Rory Sloane pens a piece about his best mate and former co-captain Taylor Walker ahead of his 200th AFL game against Geelong on Sunday.
I remember walking into training for the first time at Adelaide and watching Tex.
It was the end of his first season in 2008 and he already looked like he’d played a stack of footy but in reality he hadn’t debuted.
There was something about him – a drive to succeed – that drew me to learn off him.
For those first years (then-Adelaide coach Neil Craig) ‘Craigy’ was pretty hard on the big fella and wanted him to keep working on his craft and lifting his training standards despite kicking consistent bags in the SANFL.
When he eventually did debut in Round 1, 2009, I can remember watching it clearly.
It was against Collingwood at the MCG and he just looked so comfortable.
He didn’t set the stats sheet alight but you could see what he was going to be capable of.
From that point on, he’s been a star of our football club.
For a period of time at the Crows, the first and second-year players were known as the ‘Crushers’ – it was a tradition that had been passed on.
With many of us hailing from interstate, Tex made it his job to take us under his wing.
He welcomed us into the club and took us along for the ride, making sure we were enjoying every step of the way.
I often talk about how local footy clubs create a community culture and feel. Well, that’s exactly what Tex did at the Crows.
He made it feel like your club even if you were new.
Tex has always wanted what’s best for the footy club, standing up for the Crows when we’ve needed him and being a big brother to everyone who has walked through the doors at West Lakes.
You’d be hard pressed to find a person that meets Tex and doesn’t love him.
He’s always had a good balance of enjoying his football and life away from the game, although when he was younger that balance lended itself more to being a prankster.
But, he’s grown immensely and become a leader of our club.
Phil Walsh was an unbelievable coach and mentor for Tex, seeing his passion and care for the footy club and giving Tex the belief that he could be a strong leader.
In that time, Tex has led us through some incredible periods of enjoyment and other times where we’ve been challenged as a group.
Losing Phil was an incredibly tough moment for the club but Tex was a big force in keeping the group together.
That sums him up – his care for everyone on the team and those around him is always front and centre.
One of the great leadership qualities about Tex, and this is one I have instilled in myself, is to never forget where you came from.
Tex has never wavered in his beliefs or who he is.
People might misconstrue that because he’s brutally honest and says what he thinks but it’s also why we love and respect him deeply.
There are people out there who have had opinions on Tex before meeting him but, once they’ve met, have instantly thought, ‘He’s a ripping fella’.
I’ve been around the footy club for 13 years now and have played with some absolute greats but there hasn’t been anyone more passionate and more caring about the Adelaide Football Club than Tex.
I could share many stories and moments I’ve had with Tex – whether it be with my family, friends or teammates – but whoever the story involves the common theme is always this: Tex makes you feel part of the club.
The reason I love the Adelaide Crows so much and why (my wife) Belinda and I love living here is because you get guys like Tex and his wife Ellie, who make you feel incredibly welcome.
I think that’s great quality to have and we’ve been lucky to have him.