It is the captain’s job to set a powerful example for his team and lead them to victory. On Saturday night, under the bright lights of finals footy at the MCG, Taylor Walker did that and more.
Without their demonstrable Skipper at the fore it is entirely possible that the Crows would not have mustered their riveting seven point win over the Bulldogs.
Of course Eddie Betts deserves some credit, with his starring role bringing fans to life while leaving the Doggies defences in tatters on route to his exhilarating five goals.
Not to mention Patrick Dangerfield and Scott Thompson’s hard work at the coal face, or even Daniel Talia’s all-consuming tussle with Bulldogs spearhead Jake Stringer.
To the Adelaide Crows credit they were resolute right across the ground.
But it was their leader, the big Texan from Broken Hill who handled the weight of leadership perfectly to anchor the win.
Walker finished the night with three goals, 16 touches and 10 marks.
An impressive stat line, but it was his work in the clutch moments, the moments that dictate who the victor will be that separated him as the most influential afield.
Whether it was nailing a 50m set shot to bring Adelaide within a point with 17-minutes left to go, or taking-off down the ground in the dying moments in order to thread the needle with a pass that would set up Charlie Cameron for the match-sealing shot on goal – Walker’s mark was pronounced all over the game.
An influence that acting Adelaide Coach, Scott Camporeale should be grateful his Captain delivered.
“That’s why he is the captain,” Camporeale said post match.
“He’s a smart football player and he executes under pressure.”
It is this ability to execute and set a precedent for his team to follow that makes Walker a dynamic leader with the ability to change the course of a game.
An ability that was undeniably on show over the weekend.
It is also an ability that his teammates, like ruckman Sam Jacobs are in awe of, and what lifts them up in crucial moments as seen in Saturday’s Elimination Final.
“He was unreal, the big fella,’’ Jacobs said
“Tex is a proven game day performer and leader who drags everyone along with him and he was fantastic.
“His performance in a final is what you want from your skipper.’’
Unfortunately Walker does not have time to bask in the praise of his performance however, as he must prepare to do it all again on Friday night when Adelaide takes on reigning premiers Hawthorn in their Semi-Final clash.
Pressure will once again be heaped on the Skipper’s back if the Crows are to be any chance of advancing.
But in respect to his ability, if he reacts anywhere near the level he did against the Bulldogs, then anything is possible.
Walker will be gunning for his second consecutive week as our SA Footballer of the Week on Friday and we wish him luck as he goes about it.
Written by Juan Estepa @EstepaJ