Player manager Colin Young is still holding out hope of sending Rory Lobb back to GWS despite tensions running hot following the ‘church-like confession’ from Fremantle’s footy boss Peter Bell.
Fremantle wingman Stephen Hill has called time on his AFL career after succumbing to a long list of injuries over the past four seasons.
Hill has battled a series of hamstring issues that have kept him sidelined throughout 2021, having made just 28 appearances in the previous three seasons.
But the 31-year-old leaves the Dockers with fond memories from a 218-game career.
Drafted at No.3 overall in 2008, Hill will arguably be best remembered for kicking the sealer in Fremantle’s famous qualifying final win at Geelong in 2013, which earnt the club its first home preliminary final.
The fast and skilful wingman was an integral part of the Dockers side that reached the grand final that year.
“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.”
Fremantle executive general manager of football Peter Bell said Hill will go down in history as one of the club’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.”
Hill finished fourth in the Doig Medal in his second season (2010) and was also named the AFL Coaches Association’s best young player that year.
He won a Ross Glendinning Medal for his 32 possessions and three goals in the derby win over West Coast in round 15, 2014, and was inducted as a Fremantle life member in 2015.
In 2019, Hill was named on a wing in the club’s greatest team of its first 25 years in the AFL.
Hill will continue to work with Fremantle’s young talent in their Next Generation Academy.
Dockers fans will have the chance to pay tribute to Hill during this weekend’s derby against West Coast at Optus Stadium.