FAMILY is what makes Bobby Hill strive for what he wants in life, and he had never been happier than the hours after Saturday's Toyota AFL Grand Final as he shared the dream moment with his partner and son with two medals around his neck.
A young star with flair and a thirst for the contest, Hill became the fourth Norm Smith medallist in the Magpies' history and the ace in attack who gave his team a scoring edge when everything said Brisbane should hold all the goalkicking cards.
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Little more than six months since returning to the game after recovering from testicular cancer, Hill polled 15 votes to win the prestigious medal from Brisbane's Keidean Coleman (five) and Nick Daicos (four), who was exceptional in the thrilling final stages at the MCG.
It was the 23-year-old's career-best four goals – all in the first half – and game-high nine score involvements that gave him the edge as the best player on the ground, receiving his Norm Smith Medal from 2005 winner Chris Judd after being swamped by teammates.
He joined Tony Shaw (1990), Nathan Buckley (2002) and Scott Pendlebury (2010 replay) as Collingwood Norm Smith medallists, with the dazzling forward becoming a club hero in his first season as a Magpie and just his 24th game for the club.
There was a roar of approval from the Magpie army when the former Greater Western Sydney forward was announced as the winner and a chant of 'Bobby' rang around the MCG when he returned to the dais to receive his premiership medal.
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A proud Whadjuk-Ballardong Noongar man, Hill was drawn to the Magpies after meeting with Craig McRae and Graham Wright and hearing about the club's family first mantra. His partner Georgia and son Bobby jnr watched on as he spoke about his love for his second club on Saturday night.
"I picked the right spot, and full credit to 'Fly', Wrighty and the rest of the footy club to make me and my family feel welcome. It just shows coming out to play my best footy. I've never been happier," Hill said on Saturday night.
"I only had one meeting, and it just clicked. I just knew this was the right spot. I'd seen a lot of media that it was a family club and it's changing and that's something I wanted to be a part of. I'm a part of it, so I'm happy."
Hill's father, Ian, was also in the rooms to celebrate with Hill after the best game of his career, speaking of his pride in his son, who grew up in Northam in Western Australia.
"Words can't explain how proud I am. Where he's come from and what he's achieved. He comes from a strong Aboriginal woman," Ian Hill told AFL.com.au.
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Hill's teammates have also become like family in his first season at the club, with locker buddy Steele Sidebottom building a strong friendship with the new Magpie.
"I'm just so proud for him. Me and Bobby have spoken about this moment plenty of times sitting next to each other. For us to be able to live it out, it's so special," Sidebottom said.
"I think I was drawn to Bobby straight away. He's a great kid and I love what he's about. I'm so proud he was able to put the display on he did today. That's why we got him."
Hill was dazzling through a first-half shootout that suited his style. He used his pace to find space in attack and outsmarted opponent Brandon Starcevich in the air.
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His first two goals came from marks inside 50, converting a set shot from just inside 50m for his second, and the signature moment of his game came soon after when he flew early to sit on the shoulders of Starcevich for a spectacular mark.
The resulting goal was followed up by his fourth shortly after when he danced around Ryan Lester in the pocket at the Punt Road End and turned onto his left foot to snap the goal that gave the Magpies back the lead briefly in a see-sawing game.
It confirmed him as the best player on the ground and his influence remained after half-time, although the goals dried up in a different game that was fiercely contested and far less open.
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Hill's major involvement in the third quarter was to again use his speed and courage to get free inside 50, marking and then laying off a neat kick to Pendlebury, who converted a crucial set shot.
Starcevich had a crucial win in the air on Hill late in the fourth quarter, but there was no doubting it was Hill's day, with his defensive involvements also important as the shadows stretched over the MCG.
With Dan McStay injured, and the Magpies' key forwards well held, Collingwood needed Hill to play out of his skin on Saturday. It brought him to the club knowing he had what was required in big games, and on Saturday he delivered.
Hill reflected on the influence his cousin Bradley, a St Kilda star, had on him ahead of this season, pushing him to get up early and run each day to build the fitness base he needed.
Bradley, who won three premierships with Hawthorn in 2013-15, said his place in the family pecking order may have flipped with Bobby, who missed the opportunity to play in a Grand Final with GWS in 2019 when he was dropped for Toby Greene.
"He didn't get the opportunity to play in a Grand Final then, but he's obviously matured a little bit and gone through those hard yards and he's a little bit older," Bradley said.
"On the biggest stage of all he stepped up and played some unreal football. I'm super proud of him and I love the bloke. He was the one who got them over the line. It was a day to remember."
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With all that he has gone through, Hill shapes as a mentor for young Indigenous players, according to his manager Andrew McDougall, who paid tribute to the young footballer's "incredible self-belief" after bouncing back from testicular cancer.
"It's a real testament to what he's been through over the last 12 months," McDougall told AFL.com.au. "He's got an incredible story, and to get through what he has at such a young age, I'm unbelievably proud.
"He's been able to deal with adversity and get to this point in his career. It's an incredible journey and I think he'll be a great mentor as he gets older, and he already is now to young Indigenous players."
As the first Indigenous player to win the Norm Smith Medal since Hawthorn star Cyril Rioli in 2015, Hill was asked what advice he had for young players who wanted to follow in his footsteps and shine on the biggest stage.
"Watch Cyril Rioli's highlights I guess," he joked. "I just wanted a premiership medal and I got it.
"The Norm Smith just goes to my teammates. I'm a premiership player and that's something I always wanted to do and I couldn't have done that without my teammates. It was all about the premiership to me."
2023 Norm Smith Medal voting
15 - Bobby Hill (Coll)
5 - Keidean Coleman (Bris)
4 - Nick Daicos (Coll)
3 - Tom Mitchell (Coll)
2 - Jack Crisp (Coll)
1 - Scott Pendlebury (Coll)
Luke Darcy (Chair) – B Hill 3, N Daicos 2, S Pendlebury 1
Eddie Betts – B Hill 3, T Mitchell 2, K Coleman 1
Jude Bolton – B Hill 3, K Coleman 2, T Mitchell 1
Sarah Olle – B Hill 3, K Coleman 2, J Crisp 1
Luke Shuey – B Hill 3, N Daicos 2, J Crisp 1