Enduring football talent earns Walters 200 with Warrnambool

Warrnambool footballer Josh Walters has family support for his impending 200th appearance with the Blues from sons Jordan, 15 (left), and Lachlan, 3.

Warrnambool footballer Josh Walters has family support for his impending 200th appearance with the Blues from sons Jordan, 15 (left), and Lachlan, 3.

WARRNAMBOOL footballer Josh Walters contemplated retirement.

He’d achieved a lot over a distinguished two-club career — more than most players could dream of — but in the end he wasn’t ready to call time on a journey which had netted him five Hampden league senior premierships, a Maskell Medal and seven club best and fairests.

Walters, 34, tentatively stepped aside after the Blues’ 2013 grand final win against Koroit. But he was back in Blues colours by round three this season and will line up for  his 200th senior game with the club he grew up supporting  on Saturday.

It will take Walters’ Hampden league games tally to 309 — 109 of those were for Port Fairy in a six-year stint which produced five club best and fairest awards.

For Walters, the old adage “you’re a long time retired” rang true as he wrestled with thoughts of life after football.

“I wasn’t 100 per cent on giving it away,” he said.

“(But) I thought it would be a pretty good way to go out after back-to-back flags.

“Just after Christmas ‘Tilt’ (Scott Carter) gave me a ring and once the boys were training and playing practice matches, I sort of missed it.

“I thought anything I can do to help out the young ones will be beneficial.”

Walters joined the Blues’ junior program in 1994 and graduated to the seniors three seasons later. “I grew up barracking for them,” he said.

“They were strong in the ’80s under Grant Thomas and haven’t bottomed out at all.”

The midfielder joined Port Fairy in 2003, helping the success-starved Seagulls to the 2005 grand final.

Walters had an immediate impact when he returned to Warrnambool in 2009, winning the Maskell Medal.

His two stints at the Blues — the bookends to an illustrious career — have produced premierships. Triumphs in 2010, 2012 and 2013 followed back-to-back flags in 2001 and 2002.

“The first two were pretty special because I was so young and it was nearly nine years before I won another one,” Walters said.

“But you take the first one for granted when you are so young and when you win later in your career, you savour it more.

“Last year stands out as being one of the better ones.

“We beat Koroit and we hadn’t beaten them all year, we’d lost three times.”

The father of two might delve into coaching once he hangs up his boots for good.

At the moment Walters is content doing the running for his eldest son Jordan’s under 16s side.

“It’s something I like doing, working with the kids and helping out when I can,” he said.

Walters said he’d “had a few” coaching offers but the timing was never right.

“Work was very time-consuming. If I do it, I want to have a good crack at it and put 100 per cent in to it. Maybe it’s something down the track that will interest me.”

Warrnambool enters tomorrow’s clash against bottom-placed Hamilton Kangaroos in sizzling form.

But Walters said the undefeated Blues — boasting an average winning margin of 53 points after eight games — were continually striving for improvement.

“We knew if we kept the majority of people there from last year we’d be thereabouts,” he said. “But we are not home and hosed. We are still having lapses during the game we’re trying to improve on.

“Everyone is playing a role. There is always pressure and there are blokes (in the reserves) on the cusp of getting a game.”

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