Past Robert Walls - Coach (1981-1985 and 1991-1995)

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Grimreepah

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robertwalls.jpg
 

Grimreepah

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MOST GAMES COACHED (FITZROY/BEARS/LIONS)

1. Leigh Matthews (Lions) - 237 (1999-2008)
2. Roberts Walls (Fitzroy/Bears) - 224 (1981-85, 1991-95)
3. Bill Stephen (Fitzroy) - 214 (1955-57, 1965-70, 1976-80)
4. Fred Hughson (Fitzroy) - 96 (1943-47)
5. Vic Belcher (Fitzroy) - 93 (1922-27)
6. Len Smith (Fitzroy) - 92 (1958-62)
7. Percy Parratt (Fitzroy) - 91 (1913-21)
8. Robert Shaw (Fitzroy) - 86 (1991-94)
9. Grahan Donaldson (Fitzroy) - 85 (1971-74)
10. Gordon Rattray (Fitzroy) - 72 (1928, 1937-39)
11. David Parkin (Fitzroy) - 69 (1986-88)
12. Kevin Rose (Fitzroy) - 66 (1975-77)
13. Michael Voss (Lions) - 65* (2009-)
14. Peter Knights (Bears) - 59 (1987-89)
15. Alan Ruthven (Fitzroy) - 57 (1952-54)
 

Grimreepah

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Fitzroy (1981 - 1985)

After he retired as a player, Walls immediately took over as coach of Fitzroy. With a major clean-out of older players who were clearly "past it" in the club's disappointing 1980 season, Walls lifted the Lions to their best era since winning a premiership in 1944.

They improved from last in 1980 to fifth at the end of the home-and-away season in 1981, securing their finals berth with an upset win over Collingwood and then beating Essendon in the Elimination Final before failing by the narrowest of margins in the First Semi against the Magpies. 1982 was relatively disappointing due to a poor start, but with players like Gary Pert and Paul Roos from the club's recruiting zones and South Australian recruit Matt Rendell growing into stars, the Lions were back as a force at the end of the season. 1983 saw the Lions emerge after five rounds as favourites for the premiership and maintain that favouritism with a sensational win in a top-of-the-table clash with North by 150 points with Rendell kicking eight goals besides destroying Gary Dempsey in the ruck. However, inevitable overconfidence saw the Lions lose form and finish fourth after losing two hard-fought finals.

1984, with injuries plaguing the club and its lack of depth apparent, was initially disappointing but a remarkable recovery saw them enter the five after the final round only to be crushed by Collingwood. In 1985, the Lions' financial crisis emerged to threaten their future and this, along with more injuries, caused them to drop to ninth with only seven wins and two losses to wooden spooners St. Kilda. After this, Walls moved to his former club Carlton in a swap with Parkin.

robertwalls.jpg
 

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Grimreepah

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Re: Shane Strempel (1991)

Brisbane Bears (1991 - 1995)

In his last season, 1995, he had been told after Round 15 that with 4 wins and 11 losses for the season, he would not be re-appointed for 1996. But a major turning point in the season for the Bears soon came. In Round 16, against Hawthorn, Brisbane trailed by 45 points at 3-quarter time and ended up winning by 7, which remains a VFL/AFL record for the biggest 3-quarter time deficit turned into a win.

From there, the Bears continued their run and won 6 of their next 7 games. They found themselves in eighth position, and qualifying for the finals, after being second-last just 7 weeks earlier. They faced Carlton, the top ranked side in week one of the finals, and went down by just 13 points, a monumental achievement considering Carlton won the next two weeks by more than 10 goals to claim the premiership. Despite this turnaround, a change of heart was not considered, and Walls moved to Richmond the following year to coach.

robertwalls.jpg
 

Grimreepah

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Michael McLean

After becoming frustrated with Strempel's commitment, Walls - in his first year as coach of the then Brisbane Bears - ordered eight of his players to beat him up.Walls had his players form a ring around Strempel and then take turns in sparring him, leaving the big man bloodied and bruised.
"Absolutely hammered him. His teeth were getting chipped off and he had saliva going everywhere and a little bit of claret," Brisbane champion Michael McLean said years later.
"I can recall Brad Hardie walking over to him. He was the last one to go and he said, 'Rob, you've got to call it off because you'll kill the boy'."

robertwalls.jpg
 

Grimreepah

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Re: Shane Strempel (1991)

Link to article

Walls took his players to a corner of the Carrara ground after a training session and told them to form a circle. He then produced a bag, which contained boxing gloves. Some of the Bears' biggest players, including Alex Ishchenko, Roger Merrett, Matt Kennedy and Cameron O'Brien -- plus Hardie, Michael McLean and Phillip Walsh -- were handed the gloves. After one player finished fighting the bloodied Strempel, a fresh one replaced him in the circle for a two-minute round.

Former Brisbane chief executive Shane O'Sullivan, who is now Carlton's recruiting manager, said he had vivid memories of the incident. ''I wasn't critical of Robert doing it because we had tried all other measures, so something had to be done. I can remember Brad Hardie after about five or six players had gone into the circle saying to Wallsy, 'I think you'd better stop because we'll kill him'. It was something a bit different, that's for sure.'' O'Sullivan said Strempel had not done the right thing by the club.

Roger Merrett said last night Strempel had copped a lot and struggled to keep his arms up. ''There were mixed thoughts about what happened because there were some who were very disappointed with the way Shane was acting. Others didn't like what happened. Whether it was right or wrong I don't know, but I didn't think it was going to bring him into line.'' Merrett, who also coached Brisbane, said some of the players took their frustration out on Strempel.
 

Grimreepah

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Re: Shane Strempel (1991)

Robert Walls

The report said the punching ended only when Brownlow medallist Brad Hardie refused to carry on for fear of killing Strempel. But Walls, who now writes for The Age and appears regularly on 3AW and Channel Seven, disputed that. He said: “Brad Hardie, who knows a bit about boxing, he came towards me and said ‘I reckon he’s had enough’. I said ‘I do too’ and that was it.”

Walls said the only injury he knew Strempel suffered was a bloodied nose, although it was reported he also had chipped teeth and a bloodied mouth. “At the end of it, he walked in with everyone else and got pats on the back for standing his ground,” Walls said. The sparring session did not change Strempel’s attitude and the West Australian was later traded to Essendon. When asked if he would do it again, Walls said: “In hindsight, probably not.”
 

Grimreepah

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Re: Shane Strempel (1991)

Robert Dixon

Former Brisbane Bears footballer Robert Dixon produced the video and was at the training session when Rob Walls decided Shane Strempel needed to be taught respect.

ROBERT DIXON: He sent us on a lap and we came back and there was a bunch of boxing gloves on the ground and so we were all thinking, you know well something's going on here and Rob had some really interesting training drills at the best of times, but this was something a bit different. And he picked eight of the biggest blokes that played, fortunately I wasn't very big so I didn't get picked, and sent Shane in the middle and said look, this is maybe the only way we're going to get some respect from you or the players and sent one at a time in for two minute rounds.

So, the first round was obviously an even fight because Shane was up to it and he was a big bloke himself and could box but by the time two and three came around it was tough for him to even hold his arms up so it became a battle from thereon in.
 

Grimreepah

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Re: Shane Strempel (1991)

David Ogg

As an illustration of the discipline that he saw in his time in the AFL system, Ogg told us of the occasion he and another former Swan Districts player, Shane Strempel, were late for training.

“I was living with Shane at the time, and we arrived at training five minutes late. Shane was already in the bad books due to several other “indiscretions,” and the coach wanted blood. My punishment was fifteen laps of the ground, but Shane’s was worse. Told to stand in the middle of a twenty metre circle ringed by all the other players on Brisbane’s list, he had to box each of them for a minute.”

“Shane’s a big bloke, and he took care of the first few nicely, but, tiring quickly, he was overcome by sheer fresh numbers, and it got quite ugly. It wasn’t pretty for me either, watching this happen to a mate for the crime of being five minutes late. Eventually it got to Brad Hardie’s turn, and, to his credit, Brad said: “Rob, you’ve got to call it off otherwise you’ll kill the boy.”
 

Grimreepah

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Re: Shane Strempel (1991)

Quotes

SHANE STREMPEL: 'You're 21 and your senior coach tells you to do something, so you have to do it. I lost all respect for Robert Walls as a person and as a coach. I thought, "Stuff you, Wallsy." He obviously wasn't going to get the best out of me after that incident.'

ROB KERR, CEO AFL PLAYERS' ASSOC: 'I don't think the players would allow that to happen themselves. The modern player is far more questioning and would be far more reticent to get involved in something like that.'
 

Grimreepah

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Jason Akermanis

With eight rounds left in my first year at Brisbane in 1995, Robert Walls said he was moving back to Melbourne but wanted to coach out the year. While most players were rapt that Wallsy was leaving, he did change his coaching style completely - halving the time spent on the training track.
The players responded, winning seven of the last eight games to qualify for September and play in the club's first final, where we only just got rolled by eventual premier Carlton.

robertwalls.jpg
 

Grimreepah

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Michael Voss

Voss is universally regarded as one of the toughest players of this era. His fearless attack on the ball was second to none and his courage in the clinches was never questioned. He thanks his first senior coach Robert Walls for that. Voss was a prodigiously talented junior and made his debut for the Bears as a 17-year-old.

The veteran coach was not letting a young Voss off the hook when he took his eyes off the ball in a match against Adelaide early in his career. His words would have a lasting affect.

"He pulled me aside and looked me straight in the eyes and said 'son, never do that again ever in your AFL career' so that always burnt in the back of my mind. "It was the eyes, it's all in the eyes, when he looked straight at you like that it's a burning memory.

"There were two things he demanded, professionalism and work ethic. I learnt those two things off him more than anything else. You had to work hard and put your body on the line. I look up to Wallsy, he was a really important coach of mine."

robertwalls.jpg
 

Grimreepah

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Chris Scott

Carlton great Robert Walls was regarded as one of the competition's hardest taskmasters in his time coaching the Blues, Fitzroy and Brisbane Bears.

Geelong coach Chris Scott once admiringly described Walls as being "ridiculously hard" on his young players at Brisbane.
 

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Haso

Isn't this where we came in?
Nov 4, 2011
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Treasured Memories of Bears Years
13 July, 2012
Robert Walls

IT WAS a turning-back-the-clock experience last Sunday when I stepped out of the taxi to walk into the new Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast. Twenty years ago I was into my second season as Brisbane Bears coach and the ground was simply known as Carrara. Today, the only things that remain from that time are the enormous light towers that Christopher Skase evidently coerced the local council to pay for.

Outside the main stadium is a full-sized training ground, perfectly manicured. It used to be a rough paddock where we would do morning skills sessions in summer. It was so hot and humid, giant ruckman Alex Ishchenko would squelch in his boots as streams of sweat ran down his body, onto his legs and into his socks. The first person I bumped into was Norm Dare, who coached the Bears in 1990. Now in his 60s, Norm is still coaching the Southport Sharks.

In the early '90s, everything at Carrara was easily dismantable. Portables were used as admin offices, change rooms and gyms. It didn't instil confidence. The club was privately owned by Reuben Pelerman. A couple of times a week, Reuben, who owned hotels and hospitals, would swing off the Nerang-Broadbeach Road to check things out. Depending on the weather, his Jaguar would slip and slide or create billows of dust as he drove into the car park. On match day, Reuben would entertain his guests in the room next to my coach's box. The crayfish and champers would be in full swing as the ball was bounced. By half-time, however, Reuben and his guests would be gone. That also didn't instil confidence.
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Ceebee

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The Suns have it so much easier now.

Our boys did it very very tough in the beginning.

Made those premierships extra special.
 

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