Sport AFL Shock at the passing of one of footy’s true leaders
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Shock at the passing of one of footy’s true leaders

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Phil Walsh was his own man and thought outside the box. His sudden loss has sent all of us involved in footy into a deep state of shock.

It just isn’t meant to happen this way.

We all want good footy people to be around forever. When they are taken from us way too soon and in such awful circumstances it is incomprehensible.

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Phil Walsh was a genuine football person with a good heart and an engaging personality.

Phil Walsh only got to experience 12 games as Adelaide Crows coach. Photo: Getty
Phil Walsh only got to experience 12 games as Adelaide Crows coach. Photo: Getty

In a system that can produce clone-like figures afraid to be themselves, Walsh stood out for his passion, honesty, in-depth knowledge and innovative thinking.

He was comfortable in his own skin.

Walsh was also a confessed workaholic, rising as early as 2am to ensure he had absolutely every possible angle covered.

He admitted that he worked too hard and that this had caused some tension at home.

Walsh was trying to achieve a better work-life balance and nothing could have prepared him or anyone else for this outcome.

Police say he was stabbed in an altercation at his Adelaide home overnight, with his son charged over the death.

Such scenes are sadly played out around Australia with depressing regularity.

Domestic violence is a scourge. When it happens to someone we all know and respect, it hits home even harder.

Walsh during his time at the West Coast Eagles. Photo: Getty
Walsh during his time at the West Coast Eagles. Photo: West Coast Eagles.

Twitter and Facebook have lit up with tributes to Walsh, who was one of those coaches that fans from all other clubs respected. He had come through the ranks and done the hard yards.

He also knew what he was doing.

The sudden loss of a person like Walsh is shocking, but so is the loss of what could have been, for him, his family and his football club.

This was a man who was expertly guiding his charges at the Adelaide Crows after a long career in VFL/AFL football that started as a player with Collingwood,

By all accounts Walsh was one of those guys who lit up a footy club with his sheer presence.

He loved what he was doing and it showed. This year he was working hard to keep the Crows on track following a period of instability – and doing it well.

Walsh was also true to himself throughout. Radio tributes have honoured him as a good coach but also a good person who cared about others and was quick to admit his own imperfections.

Fans everywhere are in shock and our hearts all go out to Walsh’s loved ones and everyone at the Adelaide Football Club.

Many of the social media messages so far have been short, reflecting the loss of words we all feel. What can you say at a time like this?

Port Adelaide fan Darrin summed up on Facebook how we all feel, regardless of who we follow. “RIP Phil Walsh … at a loss to this tragic news, from a Power supporter. Thank you for your time at our Club.”

Cheryl Critchley is a Melbourne-based freelance journalist who is a Richmond member and a volunteer with the AFL Fans Association.

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