John Hillman was born in 1943 at the Osmond Tce Hospital, Norwood and lived in Beulah Park opposite a reserve where he honed his running and ball-handling skills.
He attended Wellington Road Primary School (now Trinity Gardens) from 1949 to 1956, playing in and winning two Mark Mitchell Shields, for the best football school in the metropolitan area, in 1954 and 1956. In 1956 he represented South Australia in Launceston, and amongst his team-mates were football identities Wayne Jackson and Trevor Jacques. During the year Hillman also won the school's Athletics Cup.
Hillman then attended Norwood High School from 1957 to 1962. A gun footballer, he was runner-up to Robert Oatey for the 1960 Quinn Medal (awarded to the best high school footballer in the metro area), before winning the medal in 1961 and 1962.
A talented sportsman, he also took out the school's Athletic Cup three years in a row (1960-62), and represented the state in Under 18's hardcourt tennis in Melbourne.
Hillman played under-age football for Norwood in 1960-62. Early in his career he was known more as a half-forward, but he developed into a strong half back flanker, with a good mark and a long clearing kick.
In 1965 he travelled to Whyalla and represented the State Seconds against a combined country side; he won a watch for being named best on ground.
Hillman was selected at full back in the 1966 Reserves Grand Final win over Port Adelaide on the Adelaide Oval. He then missed the entire 1967 season due to illness.
In 1969 he was part of another Norwood reserves flag, once again against Port, but this time he played at half-back.
John Hillman retired in 1972, but not before adding a third reserves premiership in 1970 and playing over 100 reserve games for the club, on top of his 66 league games.
In 1973 he won a Mail Medal playing for Hahndorf in the Hills Football League, before joining the Payneham Football Club in A1's.
He later went on to coach Sacred Heart Old Collegians, and Norwood's Under 19's (1977-78)
R Cialini Sept 2019