25. Paddy Walsh

Player Inductee

Ledgerwood/City/Essendon, Follower, 1926-36

115 games, 20 goals for Essendon, 1927-36
Essendon Best and Fairest, 1933
Victorian National Carnival representative, 1933 (Sydney)
12 representative matches for Victoria, 1927-33
Named Number 54 in the ‘Champions of Essendon’, 2002

A versatile and skilful big man of his era, Paddy Walsh was one of a number of Tasmanians who were highly successful during the VFL’s golden era of the 1930s.

Born in 1906, Walsh first played senior football with the Ledgerwood Football Club in the north-east of the state and got his first taste of top level football in a couple of games for City in the NTFA in 1926. Standing at 184cm and weighing a solid 92kg, the 20-year-old’s mobility and versatility – as well as his obvious talent – had already caught the attention of several Victorian clubs, and it was Essendon who managed to lure Walsh across Bass Strait ahead of the 1927 season.

After a slow start Walsh had cemented his place in Essendon’s best team by the end of his first season, impressing to the extent that he won Essendon’s Most Improved Player award and being awarded his first of 12 Big V guernseys. Over the coming years Walsh was a consistent and celebrated performer for the Dons, playing mostly in the ruck or off half back, where his reliable marking and excellent left foot kicking were highly regarded by friend and foe alike. He would represent Victoria every year bar one between 1927 and 1933, was selected for two national carnivals in 1930 and 1933 (although was unfortunately forced to miss 1930 due to work commitments), and at a time when Essendon legend Dick Reynolds was at his peak, won a Best and Fairest award in 1933, no mean feat. Sadly 1933 was to be his last season unaffected by injury: in Round 5, 1934, Walsh badly injured a knee, forcing him to miss the rest of the season. He would never fully recover and would play another 12 games only in the next two seasons before retiring at the end of 1936. Although a brilliant individual player, Walsh’s time at Essendon unfortunately coincided with one of the rare prolonged periods that lacked on-field success for the Dons, with Walsh never playing in a final in 115 league appearances.

After his playing career ended Walsh served as a member of the Metropolitan Fire Service for 25 years before retiring in 1968. He passed away in 1988 at the age of 81, and his contribution to the red and black was honoured when he was named as the 54th greatest player in the history of the Essendon Football Club in 2002.