Known as 'The Joker', Bill Hilditch was a speedy wingman and South Adelaide Football Club secretary before bowing out with a season at Norwood.
Born at McHarg Creek, south of Adelaide, on 23 March 1861, Bill was the youngest of three sons of John Hilditch and his wife Jane, née Bodger. They also had two daughters.
Bill’s brother Francis was the great-grandfather of Australian Test cricketer Andrew Hilditch.
A railway engine fitter, Bill captained the Locomotives team in junior football in 1879. He joined South Adelaide in 1880 and rose to prominence in 1881. According to the Melbourne Bulletin, he was “grand on the wing” when South Melbourne beat South Adelaide 6.19 to 1.2 at Adelaide Oval in 1882. He was named in the best players when South Adelaide went down to Essendon, 7.27 to 1.4, before a record Kensington Oval crowd of 7,000 in 1883.
Although Bill did not feature strongly with Norwood, he reportedly “seized the leather” after a scrimmage and ran along the Adelaide Oval pavilion wing before being overtaken by one of his former team-mates on 10 May 1884. South Adelaide won that day, 4.8 to 3.5.
Bill served South Adelaide as club secretary in 1892 and 1893. He was a delegate to the SA Football Association.
He married Elizabeth Stewart in Newtown, NSW, in 1886 and they had three children, Olive, Ethel and Stewart. In 1892, Bill moved to Petersburg (later Peterborough) and became chief fitter in the loco sheds before taking up a similar position at Islington 20 years later. He represented Yongala Ward in the Petersburg Corporation for 10 years.
Widowed, Bill married Isabella Mundy at Prospect in 1914. He died in Adelaide on 11 May 1936 and is buried at the West Terrace Cemetery.
P. Robins, J. Hilditch, D. Cox Feb 2020
* For the picture we thank football historians John Althorp, of the South Adelaide FC, and Trevor Gyss