GOAL TIME: Wests' player/coach Greg Walker (left) shares a satisfying grand final moment with his teammates on Saturday night.
GOAL TIME: Wests' player/coach Greg Walker (left) shares a satisfying grand final moment with his teammates on Saturday night. Rob Williams

Rise of young players may keep Wests legend in the game

WESTS' warrior Greg Walker was hoping his 601st game ended with another number one at the end - as top side for the season.

Sadly for the player/coach and his legion of fans, the elusive A Grade premiership remained.

However, one of Ipswich's most dependable and popular hockey players left the door open to returning next season after Saturday night's loss to Hancocks.

Surrounded by family and a multitude of well-wishers after the 6-4 loss, Walker revealed he would give some thought to battling on.

"I'll definitely coach again . . . especially with the young boys coming through,'' he said, planning to review his playing future in the off-season.

Having upstaged minor premiers Easts a week earlier, Wests felt winning the first A Grade men's premiership in 28 years was a realistic target before Hancocks had other ideas.

Hancocks built a 5-1 advantage with 20 minutes left before Walker and another stalwart Todd Watson contributed two goals each.

"It's disappointing but we never gave up,'' Walker said.

"We've scored a lot of goals in the last 10 minutes there and come back and we scared them a little bit but just not good enough on the day.''

Walker appreciated the support he received as Wests tried to add to their only previous A Grade men's grand final win in 1989. "More than half the '89 team were here watching us too,'' Walker said.

"From where we came last year (struggling to win) to now, I'm just proud of them.

"The two semis were played outstanding. Just tonight, we couldn't do the same. Maybe we played the grand final last week.''

Watson was also in a reflective mood as he sat in the team dressing room after his fourth grand final in Ipswich.

"We probably played as good as we could the last six weeks,'' Watson said.

"There's probably just a bit more effort required but the guys tried to do what they could do.''

Like Walker, Watson was keen to see the club's maturing young players return, hopefully with some of the "old fellas''.

"We'll see what next year brings,'' he said of his playing future.



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