Stephen Hill’s injury woes have denied him the chance to play a farewell game for Fremantle, the midfielder announcing his retirement from football this morning.
A favourite son of Fremantle, Hill will be remembered for his class, speed and elite kick throughout his 218-game career at the top level.
While injury has ravaged his final few seasons at the top level, Hill cemented his place in history as a key cog in one of Fremantle’s most famous wins, tucking the ball under his arm and sprinting down the wing against Geelong at Kardinia Park to goal to send the Dockers into a home preliminary final in 2013.
Drafted at pick three in the 2008 national draft, Hill quickly established his place in Fremantle’s starting side, playing at least 18 games in each of his first nine seasons.
Camera IconStephen Hill has retired. Credit: Paul Kane/ via AFL Photos
Named the AFL Coaching Association’s best young player in 2010, Hill finished four in the Doig Medal in just his second season in 2010.
Hill is also a Fremantle life member and boasts one Ross Glendinning Medal for his 32 possessions and three goals against West Coast in round 15, 2014.
In an emotional speech to his teammates on Tuesday morning, Hill said he was grateful for his 13 years at Fremantle in the AFL.
“I’d just like to thank the football club for giving me the opportunity, they drafted me and it allowed me to live out my childhood dream of playing AFL, it’s been an amazing journey,” Hill said.
“I’ve met some incredible people along the way and it’s definitely hard to say goodbye, but I know it’s the right time.
“In the last couple years, my body hasn’t held up and it’s been difficult physically and mentally, it’s been a challenge.
“I’m just so grateful to have been able to play for 13 years with 200-plus games. I’m super proud and extremely grateful.”
Executive general manager of football Peter Bell said Hill would go down in history as one of Fremantle’s greatest players.
“Stephen went from a 69 kilogram 18-year-old to reel off 190 games in his first nine seasons,” Bell said.
“He was blessed with the ability to run, but he put on another 11 or 12 kilos to build himself into a player that a lot of people externally will remember him for – how graceful and skilful he was.
“Those who were lucky enough to play with him will remember him for how hard he was in the contest, how consistently he performed under the greatest blowtorch you could be put under as a player in the biggest games.
“He would cover for his teammates all the time and he would run as hard defensively as he would offensively. I think there’s very few players who can genuinely say that was the kind of player they were.
“Stephen, I think the Club is indebted to you for your contribution over a long time. Footy is not always fair, that’s the reality and we wish it could have gone on longer.
“We’re immensely thankful for what you’ve done, it’s great that you’re a part of our Next Generation Academy and I think your legacy will live on with the young talent coming through being a part of the Stephen Hill Squad.”
Fans will have their chance to farewell Hill this weekend as the Dockers prepare to host West Coast in the 52nd annual derby.Internet Explorer Channel Network