Crows coach Walsh protective of family

Adelaide Crows coach Phil Walsh, a man consumed by footy, often woke about 2am.

Walsh would soon after sneak out of his home in a classical leafy beach-side Adelaide suburb and head to work.

He’d go to the gym at the Crows’ West Lakes, always first to arrive.

He’d work out, thinking footy.

Walsh, 56, was a self-described footy nut; the ultimate career coach.

He reckoned there were two reasons he took Adelaide’s head coaching job.

One was death: that of his coaching mate Dean Bailey, and Walsh’s own near-death experience after being hit by a bus in Peru.

The other reason was his children – the son and daughter were old enough to cope with the abuse their old man would cop as an AFL coach.

“My kids are older so there’s not those sort of pressures,” Walsh told AAP in February.

“When you’re involved in footy your kids live and die by it a little bit as well, but the kids now are a lot older, 26 and 22.

“I don’t feel that sort of responsibility in relation to having an effect on their lives quite as much.”

Walsh, renowned for his hard-nosed approach to football, was also fiercely protective of his children’s identities.

“I won’t tell you their names or anything like that. And I won’t be in pictures with them,” he said.

Before Bailey’s death, Walsh was jolted by the accident in Peru.

He says he “saw the white light” of imminent death when a 12-seater minibus struck him in Cusco in October, 2012.

Walsh survived with a fractured pelvis among other injuries.

But lying in a third-world hospital, he made a pact with himself: seize opportunity.

Walsh had previously resisted bidding for AFL head coaching jobs: he was content as the game’s most sought-after assistant.

He’d played 122 games at three clubs – Collingwood, Richmond and Brisbane.

He’d been a fitness coach at Geelong, then an assistant at Port Adelaide where he helped senior coach Mark Williams engineer the club’s breakthrough 2004 premiership.

He helped John Worsfold at the Eagles from 2009, before returning to Port last year.

Then his mate Bailey died, from lung cancer in March last year.

Bailey, a former Melbourne coach, was at the Crows as a mentor for young coach Brenton Sanderson.

When Sanderson was sacked and the Crows came calling, Walsh listened.

“I had some things happen in my life,” he said.

“I said to myself: if I seriously got an opportunity to interview for a senior job, I wouldn’t refuse.

“It’s not bucket list, but just a couple of things I said about my life.”

* All Offers and Promotions posted in this article excludes NSW residents.
Stay up to date with the latest sports news
Follow our social accounts to get exclusive content and all the latest sporting news!