Noongar man Stephen Hill has announced his retirement from the AFL due to injury, missing the chance of a farewell match this weekend.
The 31-year-old Fremantle Dockers star has had an extraordinary 13 years — he was drafted at No.3 in the 2008 national draft, named the AFL Coaching Association’s best young player in 2010 and won a Ross Glendinning Medal in 2014.
Hill made a speech to his teammates on Tuesday morning where he announced his decision to step away.
“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.”
One of the greatest.
— Fremantle Dockers (@freodockers) August 10, 2021
Hill spoke to NIT and said he is still processing his announcement now that he’s officially told the playing group and staff.
“It feels a bit weird at the moment but I think it’s the right time to hang [my boots] up and I’m excited to see what’s coming up in the future,” Hill said.
Fremantle great Des Headland spoke to the NIT about Hill’s announcement and said he will be there to support Hill in his transition out of the game in his position as Chair of the Indigenous Players Alliance.
“We are both Noongar men and I was one of the older boys when he first came into the game … He was electrifying! He’s a long-bounding fast left-footer and has the skills to match it,” Headland told the NIT.
Headland said whatever life has in store for Hill after footy, he will be there to support him.
“I know for a fact that he will do well in life after footy and whatever that entails, whether it’s still around football or into other ventures — good luck with it all and I will be there to support him all the way.”
When asked about what’s next for the Dockers great, Hill said he is open to opportunities but is still figuring out what to do next.
“My initial thought is probably to stay away, I might not do anything within footy, but at the same time I may keep my options open and if a good opportunity presents itself — then maybe, but for now I don’t think I will,” he said.
While Hill has had a challenging time physically he has played over 200 games in 13 years and will be remembered as one of the club’s greats.
By Teisha Cloos