The Standard's TIM AULD spoke with Phil Walsh on the eve of the 2015 AFL season, where he fondly remembered his time in Hamilton and how he was living the dream at the helm of an AFL club.
Phil, you were born, raised, educated and played sport in Hamilton when you were growing up. What are your memories of living in Hamilton?
I've got wonderful memories of living in Hamilton as a youngster. My dad Bill worked for Thompson's, which was a department store in the town.
Mum was a stay-at-home mum. She was there the whole time for all members of the family and offered security for us all. Sport played a massive part living in Hamilton when I was growing up.
I can still remember playing junior footy on a Saturday morning and then going home to have something to eat before going back to Melville Oval after lunch to watch the senior teams from Hamilton and Hamilton Imperials have a ding-dong game of footy.
Then on a Sunday you would sit down with your family and have lunch and watch World of Sport. They were really marvellous times.
What about your time at Monivae College?
They were good times. I suppose there were probably strict teachers but that was all right. The thing I loved the most about going to Monivae was about playing under 18 school footy.
The games between St Pat's Ballarat and Monivae College used to be sensational. I played senior footy with Hamilton in 1982 which I loved. There were a lot of good footballers who attended Monivae back in my era.
The Delahuntys, Pickens and Cranages all learnt their skills at Monivae before playing in the big league. A lot of talented Aboriginal players also went to Monivae. My dad Bill used to play footy with Hamilton so there was always a strong link between my family and the Hamilton Football Club.
I had four seasons with Redan. The former Richmond player John Northey coached me at Redan.
What did you think of the amalgamation of the two footy clubs Hamilton and Hamilton Imperials back in October 2012?
I must admit I was a bit sad but I knew why it had to happen. Let's just say it was very disappointing but as I said it had to happen. There were lots of reasons why it had to happen shortage of players, sponsorship and things like that.
The rivalry between Hamilton and Hamilton Imperials used to be so intense and fierce and to think now they are one club is strange, but things move on.
I still keep an eye on what happens in the Western Border Football Netball League, the South West league and the Hampden Football Netball League during the footy season.
I've still got some great mates down there that I keep in contact with about various things that are happening with footy in the Western District. It's always interesting to see if a name springs up that I might know and I say to myself 'I played footy against his dad or uncle'.
I think the move by the Hamilton Kangaroos to join the Hampden league was the right one. I would say the competition in the HFNL is stronger, which is great for the players.
The saddest thing about country footy is there is now a massive gap between country footy and the elite level and I reckon that will only get a bigger gap as the AFL clubs keep on getting more professional. I think it will be harder for young kids from the country to get drafted. The boys from the country who do get drafted in the future will have to show exceptional talent.
Was it a surprise to you that you landed the senior coaching job at Adelaide for the next three seasons after Brenton Sanderson got the sack last October?
I'm not sure surprise is the right word. I think I had put in a long apprenticeship filling various roles at different clubs over the journey, which started after I had played a total of 122 games with Collingwood, Richmond and then the Brisbane Bears.
I started my coaching off working in a fitness role at Geelong before taking on assistant coaching roles at Port Adelaide, the West Coast Eagles and back at Port Adelaide last year under Ken Hinkley.
I will say I'm honoured and privileged to be selected as the senior coach with Adelaide. It's a wonderful opportunity for me; they are a great club. It's a full-on job being an AFL coach. It's 24 hours, every day of the week but I don't look at it as a burden. Footy is my passion, always has been. I don't consider it a job I'm just doing something I love.
You mentioned Ken Hinkley. You would have had a close relationship with him as you were his assistant at the Power last year. Is that a fair comment?
Yes. Ken is a sensational bloke. He's a great coach and a wonderful communicator. The funny thing is the AFL put on a coaches' day in Melbourne last week for the 18 senior coaches and I spent a lot of my spare time at the function talking to Kenny and Leon Cameron, who coaches Greater Western Sydney.
My mum and Leon's mum knew each other very well. It's amazing to think Ken, Leon and I grew up in a radius of say 100 kilometres and now we're coaching at the elite level.
Phil, two weeks ago the leadership group from the Koroit Football Netball Club visited the Adelaide Football Club. How did that all come about?
My nephew is John Cook, who is an assistant coach at Koroit. There were 10 people from the leadership group from Koroit who came over. We had some great talks regarding footy and life.
The Koroit group gave our guys a great insight into how a small country club works. They were very respectful while they were here. Koroit is creating a great culture which should see the club have ongoing success for years to come. Their coach Adam Dowie has an outstanding record and is obviously a top coach.
Phil, the 2015 AFL season kicks off tomorrow night but Adelaide lines up against North Melbourne at home on Sunday. How do you think the Crows will perform this year?
We've had a solid pre-season. I've been very happy with how we've played in the NAB pre-season competition but that's fool's gold it's all behind us. We've trained very hard.
There are no easy games at this level. I can assure all your readers the Adelaide Football Club is committed to have a top season.
I'm fortunate to be working with a group of young blokes who are focused on their footy careers and I'm also lucky to have a great support staff helping out behind the scenes.