‘I was hating footy’: Walker’s Rise

In November 2016 an aspiring AFL player Lachie Walker had his boyhood dream shattered in front of him.

He had missed out on selection at the AFL Draft and Rookie Draft.

And just when he thought he had hit rock bottom, only hours later he found out he had sustained stress fractures in his back.

“I didn’t react to it well at all,” Walker recollected.

“I was a sook about it.”

Walker gives a frank and honest recollection of the months that followed, from joining Box Hill for season 2017 to soon after reaching the tipping point of wanting to give it all up.

“I was hating footy,” he declared of his 2017 season.

“I was worst on ground every week. I didn’t want to stay here anymore, I was just hating it.”

As Walker shakes his head in disappointment, it is evident that he had lost his love for the game.

Sustaining stress fractures in his back, his first serious injury, robbed Walker of his active lifestyle and an outlet for footy.

“You weren’t able to do anything,” he said.

“After being very active, and then being told you can’t do anything… that was the frustrating part.”

As a result, Walker arrived at Box Hill in 2017 relegated to the sidelines, watching his new teammates train from afar during his first pre-season at the club.

It was a tough initiation on a young footballer wanting to gain the respect of his new teammates.

“You’re sitting on the side and not able to build up those relationships in pre-season,” Walker said.

“I wasn’t really mates with anyone. I wasn’t as close with my teammates as I was hoping, and it made it a lot harder.”

Fast forward to 2019, and a determined Walker is playing a pivotal role in Box Hill’s quest for back-to-back premierships.

And is in his own words, “absolutely loving it.”

So what changed?

A month spent at his local club, Glen Waverly Rovers, in that 2017 season reignited Walker’s passion for footy.

Going back to the simple basics of playing ‘team first’ footy with his mates, and not under the strain and demands of residing in the Box Hill Development League, was a welcome release.

“I re-found my joy for footy,” Walker explains.

“Everyone at local level is trying to just play team footy. It was great for me.”

It gave Walker a new lease of life and allowed him to repay the faith shown by then Box Hill Coach Chris Newman and return to the Hawks.

He hasn’t looked back since.

Walker has now enjoyed a superb start to season 2019.

As a prototype of the modern midfielder – a 190cm contested beast – he has averaged 20 disposals and three tackles a game in Box Hill’s coveted midfield brigade.

Walker dominated Sandringham in Round 2 at Marvel Stadium to register 24 disposals, three tackles and a goal.

He was again one of Box Hill’s best players in the side’s poor showing against Port Melbourne in recording 20 disposals, three tackles and six inside 50s.

It’s been rapid development for the 22-year-old after being selected for only two matches at Box Hill last season.

It was his second game, a Round 19 defeat to Werribee, in which he registered a mere nine disposals, that proved the catalyst behind his burning desire to become a better player this off-season.

“It was embarrassing, I played shocking that day,” he vividly recalls.

“I was getting pushed around by blokes who were half my height.”

“I knew exactly what I needed to do to improve for this season… the big thing for me was to get stronger.”

Alongside spending countless hours in the gym adding to his imposing frame, the Oakleigh Chargers product openly credits the confidence instilled in him from his coaches as the key to his permanence in the team.

“The coaches back you in and you don’t feel like you’re going to get dropped each week,” he said.

“You can afford to play with a bit of freedom.”

“The culture is really good in that you can feel free to make a mistake but then be able to move on from it.”

 Box Hill coach Max Bailey equally praises Walker for his stature as a player.

“Lachie has been really impressive,” Bailey said.

“He’s a big, tall midfielder who can run and has played on the wing and is now playing inside midfield for us.”

“His big strength is on the inside but learning how to improve his outside game will be really good for his football development in the long term.

“He’s taken some big steps forward this year.”

Bailey admits he sees a lot of Box Hill’s Premiership Captain Andrew Moore in Walker.

With both players standing at 190cm, weighing in at 87kg and combining toe-to-toe in the midfield clutches, it’s an uncanny resemblance.

Walker discloses key lessons he has learnt in both leadership and selflessness through training with and running out alongside his inspirational Skipper.

“Knowing when it’s your turn to go, and someone else’s turn to go,” he explains as the significant example he has learnt under Moore’s tutelage.

“Being as good as what he is, you’re probably thinking he is always wanting the ball in his hands and wanting to do everything.”

“But he really wants to share it around with everyone else.”

Although humble regarding his stature within the club, there is no denying that in his third season, Walker is now seen as a constant and a leader at Box Hill.

And there is undoubtedly no coincidence between Walker’s rise to strong form and the team’s impressive 3-1 start to the season.

“We are looking a lot stronger this season than what I was expecting,” Walker said.

“After losing a lot of experienced players, I didn’t expect us to be as good as what we are.”

Already four games into his pre-season goal of 10 for this season, Walker will clearly need to re-evaluate what he is capable of achieving in 2019.

But amongst the pressure and demands of VFL football, he is enjoying his footy as much as he ever has.

“I was always thinking too far ahead, ” he recollects in conclusion.

“I’m just trying to enjoy footy for what it is right now, and that’s what works best for me.”

Box Hill will resume its season when it takes on Footscray at 11:50am this Sunday at the MCG.


Get to know, Lachie Walker!

Nickname: Walks

AFL club supported as a kid: Western Bulldogs

Best moment in Junior FootyWinning the Premiership in U13s against Nathan Mullenger-McHugh

Player from another club you’d like to watch: Jack Firns

Funniest teammate: Stu Horner (particularly his hair)

Favourite AFL player of all timeAndrew Moore

What singer/band would you like to be played at the Grand FinalRikki Lee

If you could swap jobs with anyone who would it beMichael Knolls

Pre-match superstitions: Eat breakfast

Favourite meal before a gameBreakfast

Favourite thing to do outside footyBeach recovery

If you won the lottery, what would be the thing you’d buy first: A house

Where’s next on your travel bucket list: Hoppers crossing

Your most treasured possessionMy phone

Favourite movieLord of the Rings trilogy

Favourite TV show: Rick and Morty

Best concert attended: Coldplay

What you’d like to do after your footy careerOwn a school uniform shop

As a footballer, how would you like to be rememberedA great teammate





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