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Hilton ready to thrive in second stint at Swan Districts

Wednesday, May 8, 2024 - 4:58 PM

Brenton Hilton wanted to focus on starting his teaching career in 2023, he won a premiership at Gingin at the same time and now has come back to Swan Districts determined to find a place in an impressive back-line unit.

Hilton played all of his football with Swan Districts including being part of the Colts grand final team of 2018 and playing four league matches in 2022, but once he finished his studies to become a teacher, he wanted to focus on starting his career in 2023.

He landed a role in the health and physical education department at Aveley Secondary College but didn’t want a total break from football and played with the Gingin Eagles who went on to win the Mortlock Football League premiership.

However, coming back to Swans once he'd settled into life as a teacher was always on the cards, working with new co-captain and two-time Swan Medallist Jesse Turner certainly helped that cause, and he couldn’t be happier to now be preparing for the start of the 2024 WAFL season.

"I'm feeling good and have done a lot of work obviously over the pre-season as all the boys have done as well," Hilton said.

"It's good to be back and things are looking good for us this season, and all the boys are fit and firing.

"It was my first year of teaching last year so I just wanted to be able to go away and have a focus on that for a year, and play a bit of country footy at the same time.

"It was always in my plans to come back so it's good to get back to Swans for this year and the pre-season's done now, and I'm just looking forward to getting into the games."

It was mixed feelings last year for Hilton stepping away from Swan Districts.

There were elements he enjoyed and winning a premiership himself with Gingin certainly helped, but then he felt a tinge of jealousy not being part of the Reserves premiership triumph on Optus Stadium for Swans.

That's when he knew 100 per cent he wanted back in.

"It was actually an enjoyable experience even though I was still keeping a close eye on the boys at Swans and how they were going," he said.

"It put a bit of perspective on footy for me and made me realise I wanted to come back to where I wanted to be, and give it my best crack now this year so it was good.

"My country team actually won the grand final too I think the week before and then to go watch the Swannies boys win the Ressies flag with all my mates playing was awesome.

"I definitely got jealous watching and wanted to be out there with them but it's good to see all those boys I played Colts with win a flag was awesome."

Coming back to Swan Districts this season and Hilton looks like he'll settle into a role down back whether that's in the Reserves or League team for the start of the season.

That league side unit won't be easy to break into considering it includes co-captain Brandon Erceg, club legend Tony Notte, the returning Alex Howard and Jake Pasini along with the likes of Tony Stephens, Will Collins, Brad Lynch, Jesse Glass-McCasker, Cian Ehlers and Luke Taylor.

However, having that depth of a back-line group through both grades is something that Hilton is looking forward to being part of.

"All pre-season I've been training down back which has been good," he said.

"It's good to come back down to the back-line, but that is one area that's very stacked at the moment at the club so I'm just trying to put my best foot forward to play as much as I can this pre-season.

"It might take me a couple of weeks but hopefully I can push my case forward and I know it's such a strong team to try to break into.

"The back-line is one of our real strengths and obviously there's Erc down there who is one of our captains as well. He is a good leader down there and there's lots of other boys who are defenders and we're all trying to come through together so it's very good."

While there is a great feeling between the defenders at Swan Districts, that strong feeling throughout the entire playing group is there coming into the 2024 season and Hilton is sensing that everyone's expectations are high.

"The vibe at the club is awesome at the moment and everyone is getting around each other. There's definitely a strong feeling that both grades are going to do well with the talent we've got on the list," Hilton said.

"From top to bottom it's awesome so it should put the club in good stead to hopefully get back to the finals in the league and hopefully go back-to-back in the Ressies as well so there's a good feeling around the club."

Not only does Hilton work at the same school as Turner, but even before pre-season training resumed for Swan Districts he started working out with his new co-captain.

While he wouldn’t quite say he can keep up with the man who could be the hardest and best runner across the whole WAFL competition, he's got no doubt that work will hold him in good stead throughout 2024.

"I've done a lot of training with Jesse Turner who I work with at school and we've been going since October," he said.

"So it's been good to work with him and doing all that training before pre-season actually started, and that held me in good stead when we got back to the club. It's probably now the fittest I've ever been running wise and obviously all that training with him in the off-season really helped which is good.

"I definitely wouldn’t say I can keep up with him, but just from training with him and doing everything he's doing has really helped me.

"Obviously he's a fitness freak and a running freak, and he's very good at what he does, so just training with him has been good and a fair few other boys have gone down with him so it's been good that he's happy to help out a lot of other boys at the club. We all came back fit ready for a pre-season as a result of all that work."

Hilton is now into his second year teaching at Aveley Secondary College as well and couldn’t be happier with the career path he's chosen, and with the school he has started that life at.

"It's my second year down at Aveley and it's been very enjoyable. It has been good after four years studying coming out of school and being at a WAFL club helped too where we had a few other teachers, or guys studying to be one there," Hilton said.

"Tony Stephens, Corey Gault and obviously Jesse were school teachers already when I was coming through so I got to chat to them about it and it's been awesome so far. We have footy classes down at Aveley which I can run and it's been awesome, I'm very much enjoying that."