A reunion took place last week.
A reunion between a couple of friends who haven’t caught up properly in nearly 20 years.
After playing in the premiership winning colts side in 1988, Matt Walder has returned to the Morningside Football Club, but this time as its new senior coach.
Walder will take the reins of the Panthers after an outstanding playing career finished up in the 2015 QAFL Reserves Grand Final with Wilston Grange.
Across the journey in Queensland and down south, Walder has played over 600 senior games, won two league best and fairest awards, four flags as a player, two as a playing coach, as well as being a five time club best and fairest winner.
That’s a résumé and a half.
Now, it’s time for the next chapter, with this one being written from the box.
“I’m excited, it’s something you definitely look forward to, taking the head role at this level. The only thing will be getting my head around the fact that the boots are hung up now,” he said.
While the majority of his coaching experience has been from ground level, Walder doesn’t believe too much will change in the way he approaches things.
“90 per cent of the work is done during the week anyway, 10 per cent is done purely on the run on game day, so making that adjustment to being in the box should be an issue,” he said.
“It will be no different to how you plan and set up, it will just be your eyes and ears are more open and focused not being in the heat of the kitchen.”
If experience had a monetary value, Walder would be cashed up.
“You draw on a lot of things, whether your 25 or 45, you have to draw on what you’ve been through, the people that you have rubbed shoulders with, the experiences you’ve had against opponents, oppositions, in different leagues,” he said.
“Principally, you’ve got core philosophies in yourself which you will draw on, and what you think will be successful for the club.”
Coming in as the senior coach of one of the most well known and successful clubs in Queensland comes with great responsibility.
There won’t be much time for Walder to find is feet before results are expected, but he isn’t heaping any extra pressure on himself because of that.
“It doesn’t matter what role you are in, you have got to be on your toes regardless of whether you at Hawthorn or at Geraldton. You can place extra pressure on yourself but you’re only going to drive yourself to an early grave,” he said.
“I don’t feel that, they have appointed you, they have backed you in, so you have got to have faith in your own ability and be able to follow through with your actions.”
What will help the transition process is the crop at his disposal.
“They fell just short this year and the reserves finished third, but their turnover rate from the previous year was 10-11 players, so the kids coming through the system have definitely got the talent, and it’s a very exciting position to be in,” he said.
Walder takes over from David Lake, a man he knows very well.
While he will put his own stamp on the role, the foundation has already been laid to continue to build off.
“Of course there will be [differences] but I’m not there to reinvent the wheel either,” he said.
“There will be some changes, tweaks and ideas that I’m going to bring, but essentially 75-90 per cent of the list is going to remain the same, and the ability of the players is still going to be similar. A few tweaks and changes will hopefully freshen them up.”
One thing is for sure, the confidence levels surrounding a successful 2016 are already there.
“The belief comes from that football club. I’ve got belief in myself, I’ve been entrusted with that role and they have entrusted me, so as a footy club we are always going to be on the front foot.”
The red black and white are hoping that this is a match made in heaven.
By Andrew Wiles