AFTER a lifetime in cricket, Michael Hill still insists: “I’m just in love with the game.”
That passion was reciprocated on an official level on Monday night when the former NSW Sheffield Shield all-rounder was awarded life membership at Newcastle District Cricket Association’s annual general meeting.
Hill, who was unable to attend the presentation because of commitments interstate, said he was “honoured” by the recognition.
“I’m chuffed, really pleased,” Hill said. “It’s come out of the blue, but I’m very grateful.”
NDCA chairman Paul Marjoribanks described Hill’s playing career as “arguably the finest in NDCA history”, and the 73-year-old’s record speaks for itself.
Between 1964 and 1984, the off-spinning all-rounder won nine premierships with Lambton-New Lambton, Merewether and Charlestown and was the competition’s player of the year five times.
He is one of only three players to have scored more than 5000 first-grade runs and taken more than 500 wickets, his late father Ken Hill and Hamilton-Wickham all-rounder Sam Webber being the others.
In addition, he played 14 first-class matches for NSW between 1964-65 and 1974-75 and represented Northern NSW against England, India, Pakistan, West Indies, New Zealand and the World XI, often as captain.
He skippered the Newcastle representative team between 1970 and 1982.
When his illustrious playing career finished, Hill’s commitments as chairman of both the Newcastle Knights and National Rugby League restricted his involvement in cricket.
But he returned as a coaching advisor/mentor at Wests eight years ago, before switching to Charlestown in a similar capacity.
He also served on the NDCA competition committee and judiciary last season.
Hill was awarded life membership of the Knights in 2005 and is also a life member of Charlestown District Cricket Club.
The NDCA’s most recent life-membership recipients were former Test players John Watkins and Paul Wilson, who were inducted last year.
In other news from Monday night’s AGM, Marjoribanks and Royce McCormack were re-elected as NDCA chairman and secretary respectively.
It will be Marjoribanks’ 11th term and McCormack’s 15th.
The NDCA also named its first-ever team of the season, which comprised: Nathan Price (Wallsend), Rahul Bakshi (Cardiff), Joseph Price (Wests), Dylan Hunter (Newcastle City), Matt Gawthrop (University), Simon Moore (Merewether), Adrian Chad (Toronto), Tim O’Neil (Merewether), Peter Lojszczyk (Wests), Jan Gray (Belmont), Sam Palmer (Merewether) and Matthew Bench (Charlestown).