Bob Hill came to Norwood as a feisty forward from South Adelaide, where two of his nephews, the future Test cricketer Clem Hill and his brother Frank, would flourish a decade later.
Bob performed well at Norwood in 1884, as five of Clem Hill's brothers would do in later years. But his true home was South Adelaide, where he played for eight seasons between 1880 and 1889, with stints as captain and vice-captain, and a premiership in 1885.
It was not all roses. The South Australian Register football writer ‘Goalpost’ made this observation in August 1883: “Hill, the captain of the South Adelaides, has degenerated from his once admirable style, and now ‘goes for the man’ in the most unwarrantable and at times unfair way. For the sake of himself and example to the men he ought at once to desist from this deliberate roughness.”
'Goalpost' was more complimentary of Bob’s work at Norwood, rating him one of the best forwards of the 1884 season because of his good marking, straight kicking and dazzling runs. As well as 11 regular games for Norwood, he played against three visiting Victorian clubs, with Norwood going down 4.11 to 3.11 to Carlton at Kensington in June, 10.15 to 6.7 to Geelong at Adelaide in July and 5.7 to 3.6 to Melbourne at Adelaide in August. He kicked two goals against Carlton and two against Geelong.
Norwood’s run of six premierships ended in 1884, Port Adelaide taking the crown for the first time. Bob returned to South Adelaide and immediately tasted premiership success. He also played A grade cricket with South Adelaide.
Bob’s older brother Henry John Hill, the SA Railways Commissioner, was the father of six footballers. Clem played with South, Frank with South and Norwood, and Percy, Arthur, Roy and Stanley with Norwood.
Bob Hill was born at Port Adelaide on 13 October 1861 to Henry Joseph Hill and the former Susanna Rofe. Bob was their ninth child and sixth son. His eight brothers and five sisters were Henry John, Caroline, Amelia, Samuel, George, Clara, Jabez, Edward, Eleanor, Henry Joseph, Henry Ernest, Arthur and Laura.
Bob first married Emily Gordon but she barely outlived their infant son, who survived less than a year. Five years later he married Sarah Rowley and they had two daughters, Aileen and Constance (Mrs H. J. Atwill). Bob became Chief Mechanical Engineer with the NSW Railways. He was 75 when he died at Randwick on 19 October 1936. He was a life member of the SCG.
P. Robins, D. Cox, P. Cochinos, G. Adams November 2023