Walton returned to Port Melbourne in 1920 and was appointed captain-coach of Hawthorn (then playing in the VFA) in 1922. He was however refused a clearance by Port Melbourne and as a result spent the season playing for them, while coaching Hawthorn during the week. Twice that season, he had the unusual situation of playing a VFA game against the club that he coached. In one of those matches a Port Melbourne teammate had to be restrained from striking Walton over Walton's vocal support for the player's opponent. In 1923 he was granted his clearance and steered Hawthorn into the finals.