Our thanks to Andrew Ferguson for his 2014 piece recounting the story of Edward Larkin, who among ot...
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When the name Walter Fullerton-Smith appears in the program you could be excused for thinking that you were at Kooralbyn Valley for a polo tournament or Ballymore for a Rah Rah carnival. But the same Walter Fullerton-Smith just happens to be one of the toughest Rugby League forwards in Queensland.
Although the Redcliffe second-rower is given his full name in the program each week, to everyone in League he is just plain Wally. " In actual fact, my birth certificate lists me simple as Walter Smith but we have always used our full family name," Wally said. " I am the fifth generation Fullerton-Smith with the Fullerton part having been my great great grandmother?s maiden name which has been kept in the family.
" In my hometown of Roma I still get called Walter but it was a bit much for the Redcliffe boys to give the full title," he chuckled.
Fullerton-Smith came to Redcliffe in 1978 as a 17-year old and was immediately thrust into senior senior football, playing in the club?s third grade side. " I had been boarding at the Southport school for seven years and had just returned home after completing my schooling when I was approached by a Redcliffe official. " It wasn?t a hard decision to make because Redcliffe and Roma have quite a connection," he said.
That connection of course started with the legendary Arthur Beetson in the mid-60?s and since that time a number of players, including the members of the Cherry family, have made their footballing mark with Redcliffe.
Fullerton-Smith is regarded as one of the toughest tacklers in the state and although his side has been struggling to find form early in the season, his own performances won hima second row spot in the Brisbane KB Cup team. Redcliffe coach John Barber has a very high opinion of Fullerton-Smith but believes he needs the polish that experience in Sydney football would bring. " He has outstanding potential and is a devastating defender but he needs to develop his ball skills," said Barber.
" Naturally I would not like to lose him from Redcliffe, but realistically he is one player who could be outstanding with Sydney experience," Barber added. While a carpenter by trade, Fullerton-Smith is an investment adviser for Australian Fixed Trusts at Redcliffe. " It probably seems quite a mixture, but the building trade is in a slump and I always had an interest in investment so I was pleased to accept the position when the opportunity arose," he said. However while Fullerton-Smith is more than happy with the Redcliffe club, he would like nothing better than a stint in Sydney and another chance to play overseas.
At the end of the 1981 season he went to France with Dolphins team-mate Terry Webb and played for the Tonneins club. " France was a wonderful experience and while the football was not anywhere near as high a standard as Brisbane, it was a valuable lesson. " I don?t want to sound boastful but Terry and I were the best players in the club and the added responsibility that gave us has, I am sure made us more mature footballers," He added.
Fullerton-Smith is now waiting for another opportunity to travel and this time he has his sights on England. It seems the controversial transfer ban between Australia and England will be lifted at the forthcoming meeting of the International Board and Fullerton-Smith could be one of the first to take up a contract with an English club. " I was able to see some football in England during my French visit and I really feel that a season of English football would help me greatly," he said.
But at the moment his full concentration is on helping Redcliffe get back into the winner, circle. " People will see a different Redcliffe side once the premiership begins. " Our State League performances were disappointing but after our firtsround loss to Easts, we realised we were out of contention for the final and it was hard to get motivated," he said.
In the future Fullerton-Smith would like to go back to country life on a cattle property near his parents at Roma. " If I ever win the lottery then that?s the investment I?ll be choosing," he stated. Perhaps a season in England and a lottery win might see him taking over a property in the English countryside. Squire Walter Fullerton-Smith, the Lord of the Manor, has quite some appeal.
These days Fullerton-Smith resides on the Gold Coast and is a regular at Dolphins games at either Burleigh or Tweed.