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Vale Ken Walker

Ken Walker was the last link with one of St Kilda’s greatest sides, but his service to the club outweighed that connection.

Ken who passed away on Thursday at the age of 93, was in his second year at the Saints when the team knocked off the highly favored Richmond in the first semi final of 1939. A fortnight later the Saints went down to Collingwood in a high-scoring preliminary final and it was only the 11 goal solo effort by Ron Todd which stopped the team from making the Grand Final.

Walker who had been born in Bendigo, had first attracted attention with VFA club Preston as a 17 year –old. In 1938 St Kilda lured him to the Junction Oval but his start was delayed by clearance hassles and he only had four games in his debut year.

St Kilda quickly realised that they had a versatile talent on their hands and in a strong line-up he could fill a variety of roles. An example was the way he was used late in the season when he played as a resting ruck in the back pocket in the final home and away round then was directed by coach Ansell Clarke to start at full-forward in the first semi and lead well up the field to let star forward Bill Mohr drop in at the front of goals. Then in the preliminary final Walker played at centre half –forward.

It was the indication of a remarkably flexible career and he joked in later years that he played every position except wing and rover.

He would win best and fairest awards in 1942 and 1943 and represented Victoria. But sadly he slipped from St Kilda’s grasp when at just 25 years of age he was offered nine pounds a week to captain-coach Tasmanian club Burnie. He had played 109 games and kicked 81 goals from 1938 to 1945, but he still had plenty to offer as he was in his footballing prime.

It wasn’t the last the Saints heard of Walker however. He would return as coach of the reserves side and would then become a highly respected recruiter. One of his prized recruits was Tony Lockett and it was a nice quirk of history that several years ago he was inducted into the Saints’ Hall of Fame on the same night that Lockett was made a legend.

For many years Ken worked on the ground staff at Moorabbin and always had a friendly smile and words of wisdom for anyone else who loved the Saints as he did. 

Ken’s funeral will be held at 11 am on Wednesday July 31 at Gateway Funerals Chapel , corner Wells Road and Thames Promenade Chelsea Heights.