ROB Walker’s standing as the Ovens and Murray Football League’s most decorated player was confirmed last night when he was inducted into the Hall Of Fame as a legend.
The Wangaratta Rovers champion, whose unprecedented career included four premierships, a record five Morris Medals and 12 club best and fairests, joined long-time administrator Cleaver Bunton as a legend of the O and M.
At the third induction evening, Brian Gilcrist (Wodonga), Ray Thomas (Albury), Martin Cross (Myrtleford, North Albury) and 2AY commentator Ron McGann were included in the Hall Of Fame.
Injury prematurely forced the curtain to come down on Walker’s illustrious 307-match career in 2003, the same year he won his fifth Morris Medal.
After an emotional acceptance speech in which he paid tribute to the support of his family, including his wife and parents who were all present last night, coaches, teammates and Wangaratta Rovers Football Club, Walker said he was thrilled by the honour of being recognised as an O and M legend.
“It’s so humbling,” Walker said.
“I’ve been involved in the game for 15 to 20 years but you don’t deserve these sort of accolades because you’ve played the game.
“It’s a bizarre feeling.
“I’ve stepped away from the game in recent times but I’ve always kept a close eye on it.”
Walker made his debut for Wangaratta Rovers in 1985 and three years later played in the first of his premiership teams.
He briefly tried out with AFL club North Melbourne before returning to cement his name in O and M folklore with a career unlikely to be seen again.
Walker claimed his first Morris Medal in 1991 with a record 31 votes and was a key player in more premiership success in 1991, 1993 and 1994 under coach Laurie Burt.
Walker became the third man from Wangaratta Rovers inducted into the O and M Hall Of Fame behind Bob Rose and Neville Hogan.
Gilcrist rejected the chance to play for VFL powerhouse Melbourne during its golden era in the 1950s and 1960s to become a champion player for Wodonga.
The star centre half-back won a record five best and fairests for the Bulldogs and was a star player in their first two O and M premiership teams in 1967 and 1969.
Thomas played 198 games for Albury including the 1966 premiership team under recent AFL Hall Of Fame inductee Murray Weideman before dedicating 30 years of his life to the Tigers as head trainer.
He stepped down at the end of last year due to health reasons.
Cross coached for a record 21 seasons in the O and M and his stand-out achievements were Myrtleford’s only flag-winning team in 1970 and masterminding a memorable North Albury triumph in 1984 when the Hoppers overcame a mid-season financial crisis.
He is still active in the O and M, assisting reigning premier Yarrawonga.
McGann called football on 2AY from 1950 to 1974.