PREPARING to play his 500th game for Wests, Ipswich hockey striker Greg Walker chats in his usual mild-mannered style.
He's modest, friendly and happy to help out. He's a fantastic team man.
But perhaps his best sporting attribute is his loyalty.
In an era when players regularly change clubs, Ipswich born and bred Walker remains old school in many regards.
Since joining Wests as a junior in the early 1990s, Walker has stuck with the same Ipswich competition club.
When he tackles defending A-grade premiers Easts at the Ipswich Hockey Complex on Saturday night, he'll be only the sixth Wests player to achieve that magic milestone.
"It's pretty special to be at the same club for the whole 500 games," Walker said.
"I've been chasing my mate Tony Dakin's dad (Darryl) because he got 500 a few years ago now."
Remarkably, Walker is just 30 and still one of the best A-grade players running around.
"I first sat on the bench for A-grade when I was about 12 or 13," he said.
Two of his major influences were dad Ray, who was often a coach, and mum Anne, a manageress through his junior career.
The train guard would have reached the 500-game feat earlier, but for dislocating the AC joint in his left shoulder on his 30th birthday a month ago.
He missed three games.
But that was the only injury that has forced him to sit out a game.
While he's yet to win an A-grade premiership, Walker captained Wests in two of their three past senior grand final games. He won "four or five" junior grand finals.
The former fullback and centre half jokes that it might take a Wests A-grade grand final victory to make him consider retiring.
Being in a winless team this season, he knows his beloved Magpies have to find something special to grab the title this year.
But he won't stop trying in his 500th game at 5.30pm on Saturday.
FRIENDSHIPS and memorable times have kept Greg Walker loyal to Wests for 499 hockey games.
"I've had some good mates there," the former Ipswich and Queensland Schoolboys representative player said.
"We all sort of came over at the one time - myself, Nathan Hooper and Stevie Bayliss all came through Wests juniors.
"It's just the friends you make, the social life afterwards."
A patio extension at Walker's Brassall home will soon become a new entertaining area for his close hockey friends.
But while the passion to win an elusive A-grade grand final rages, Walker has another inspiration driving him on.
His four-year-old daughter Brylie started Hookin2Hockey this year.
Seeing Greg, his wife Renee and Brylie at home, one senses hockey provides a wonderful way to bring the family together.
"He won't stop until he can't play any more," Renee said. "We planned our wedding day around hockey.
"She (Brylie) just loves seeing dad play."
Greg is happy Brylie is playing sport - when she's not in the backyard cubbyhouse the proud dad made.
"She's pretty natural," the loyal hockey player said, grinning with approval.
"She gets out and hits the ball pretty hard. I don't have to teach her too much."
And one guess who Brylie is playing for - "the mighty Magpies".
GREG Walker will be the sixth Wests hockey player to reach the 500-game milestone when he tackles Easts on Saturday night.
Other players in the illustrious half-century club are Darryl Dakin, Faye Gillow, Leanne Jackson, Brian Harold and Kylie Tierney.
"The thing I got 500 so quick is playing two, three, four games a weekend and filling in for A-grade," Walker said. "We had the B-grade comp there for a while so we were playing D-grade and C-grade on the Saturdays and Sundays and the B-grade was the Friday night."
Walker has been a prolific goal scorer for Wests over the years, netting 30 in one of his best seasons.
As for why he's enjoyed such a long stint with Wests: "It's not a professional sport or anything," he said. "It's more about keeping fit and making friends."