Walker: Still plenty to play for
Tuesday, 16th August, 2011
My team-mates and I have been out of contention for this year’s finals for some time now but as we have shown in our recent matches there is still plenty to play for.
Our disappointing year (just six wins) has already cost Neil Craig his job as coach and for those players out of contract at the end of the season - like me - the remainder of 2011 is likely to have a huge bearing on career chances.
As a 21-year-old with three AFL seasons under my belt, the next contract I sign will be arguably the most important of my career so I am determined to show I have a lot to offer.
I’ve been reasonably happy with my form (11 goals in three games) since being recalled by new coach Mark Bickley, but those who think the absence of Neil Craig at the helm of the Crows has helped me personally are dead wrong.
It was a very emotional time for everyone at the club when Neil announced he was standing down and while it isn’t the best way to see a coach go out, the situation was handled very professionally.
There was a school of thought that Craigy and I didn’t get along - but I never had any problems with him as coach.
I always got the impression that the more talent Neil saw in players, the harder he would drive them and I always thought that he had my best interests at heart.
The coach never left me in any doubt as to what he expected from me and I found our regular chats always included consistent feedback - as a player you can’t ask for anything more than that.
Things don’t always go the way you want but there is no point holding a grudge against others - people who do that will get nowhere in life.
It’s fair to say I wasn’t Craigy’s favourite player and you won’t be surprised to learn I was never invited around to his place for dinner, but people who know me will tell you I am never going to be a “teacher’s pet”.
I like to test the waters (as my former teachers at North Primary School know) and it is that attitude I hope will work well with the agenda that new coach Mark Bickley has set for the club for the remainder of the season.
Bicks hasn’t made dramatic changes to our game plan since taking over but he has told us that he wants us to take the game on a little more which suits my style.
He believes we have nothing to lose now, so we may as well attack as much as we can, play instinctively and not be too worried about making mistakes.
I have always enjoyed a good working relationship with Bicks and he was the forward line coach before taking over at the top, so he has an intimate knowledge of how I like to operate.
It was a real boost to my confidence when Bicks said he was going to bring me back into the senior side after I had played just one SANFL match after my knee injury.
I didn’t have a great game for Norwood in my return but Bicks told me he would be backing me and that he wanted me to be aggressive and take the game on.
I feel as though I need to repay the faith he has shown in me and that will be a focus for me over the next three weeks.
In our remaining matches we will travel to the Gold Coast, host Richmond and then finish the season with a trip to Perth to face the West Coast Eagles.
Our aim in these matches is to earn back some respect that we have lost this season and re-build some lost credibility in the competition.
The longer a side is down, the harder it is to get back up, so we’ll be looking to salvage something from this season.
The Adelaide Crows has always been a highly-respected club in the AFL and it is important that we re-establish that with a view to 2012.
Once our season is completed I’ll be heading back to Broken Hill to support the Bulldogs in their quest for another premiership.