For Simon Hill, today is the first day of the rest of his life. After 15 years at Fox Sports covering the A-League and Socceroos, the broadcaster joins the growing army of ‘ex-Fox Sports’ talent.
Hill, however, isn’t looking back after announcing his surprise exit from Fox Sports in recent days on his social channels.
And, fortunately, he can fall back on the experience of a similar scenario two decades ago.
In 2002, he and his colleagues lost their jobs in the UK as the ITV Sport channel went into administration.
“Back then I had similar feelings,” Hill told FTBL today.
“What am I going to do? What’s my future? But within 12 months I was on a plane to Australia.”
And Australia is where he subsequently built a highly respected career as a broadcaster, writer, and presenter.
For many fans of football, he is a familiar and well-liked voice for Socceroos and A-League games over the last 15 years on Fox Sports.
Hill said of his current situation that adapting to change is all part of life.
“I’m sort of excited. It’s a big change and one that was a bit unexpected.
“But I’ve been encouraged by the fact that already I have contact from a lot of people wishing me well and them being sorry I’m no longer going to be involved in the A-League, at least with Fox Sports.
“I’m excited but also a little bit fearful as I haven’t done this kind of thing for a long time and it is a bit daunting.
"There is some trepidation in that particularly in a post COVID world where travel is restricted.
“But I’m very grateful and humbled by all the messages I’ve received and those who took the time out to write.
"It’s been very humbling to read all these messages and say such nice things," the former Fox Sports star said.
A message to say thanks 👍 pic.twitter.com/elYOy8Y9MS— simonhill1894 (@simonhill1894) July 1, 2020
Western Sydney Wanderers’ Socceroos defender Matt Jurman echoed what many in the A-League feel about Hill’s contribution.
“I’m a big fan of Simon’s. When I’m not playing or re-watching my A-League games, I’m always a big fan of Simon’s commentary,” Jurman told FTBL today.
“He’s just a great guy, he lets the game flow and it’s pretty disappointing if he’s lost to our game in Australia.
"I was pretty shocked when I read the news. I’m sure players in the A-League and Socceroos will back me up when I say that.”
With that in mind, it’s understood Hill has already had some preliminary conversations about potential future projects.
Who knows if that sees him involved in the A-League or Socceroos again.
Last month, the voice of the A-League (as he's often referred) dipped his commentary toes into the live sports streaming arena, covering both the K-League (for Grabyo) and games for the Northern Territory federation.
Perhaps streaming companies will look to take advantage of his broadcast experience.
"I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel strange [leaving Fox Sports] but this is my future and the cards I’ve been dealt.
“We’re in a tough landscape right now,” he added.
“But life doesn’t follow a straight path, does it. You have lots of turns in your life and it’s up to me to make this something new and exciting."
Hill has been one of the most influential and recognized voices in football in Australia since arriving from England.
Over 17 years in Australia (he began with SBS-TV before joining Fox Sports’ Socceroos and A-League coverage in 2005) he’s been a balanced and passionate voice as a broadcaster, pundit, and writer.
His highlights include the many A-League grand finals, derbies, and Big Blues (the A-League nickname for a Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC clash).
But it's some of the early A-League Sydney Derbies which fire Hill’s imagination.
“It felt like being back in Europe. The first A-League Sydney derby that was sold out at the old SFS and the first-ever Sydney Derby at Parramatta, when the stands were absolutely full was incredible.
“The noise generated by the two sets of supporters that day makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on edge, still.
“Great days and those days will be back,” he added on an optimistic note.
Hill also names the 2007 Asian Cup across South-East Asia was also a highlight, though the Socceroos exited the tournament in the last eight.
“Covering those games in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam in a tournament that was very new to us in Australia.
"I just loved that experience. And winning the Asian Cup with the Socceroos eight years later, it was terrific for football in Australia."
Hill has seen the game’s highs and lows.
From the A-League’s strong start in 2005-2008 to its plateau and the Del Piero-powered boom in 2012 to its current situation.
And on the international front, the Socceroos’ thrilling World Cup qualification in 2005 to consecutive World Cups in 2006 - where the Socceroos qualified for the knockout stages - 2010, 2014, and the Russia World Cup two years ago.
Football in Australia, for many, is at a fork in the road.
The future can be brighter, argues Hill, but he’s cautious about a rebirth for the A-League and the game overall.
“It’s difficult to predict. We’ve had a cycle of boom and bust for so long.
"What we’d like to see is steady growth.
“And without assigning too much of a messiah complex to James Johnson [new FFA CEO] he’s got the right football DNA.
“But equally I wouldn’t be surprised if politics stymied all of that [potential growth in the future].”
What doesn’t change is Hill’s love for music. Loud, hard, rock music.
He plays drums in a rock band. It’s something he’s done for years while working at Fox Sports.
Oh, and he’s rather good.
With one of his previous bands, he’s even played famed inner-city live venue Lansdowne Hotel in Sydney.
His current band is called Greenmanalishi.
The band named after a classic track originally recorded by English/US band Fleetwood Mac, which was later re-recorded by legendary high priests of metal (no pun intended), Judas Priest.
Hill rehearsed with the band last Monday night and releases news on upcoming gigs on his Twitter (@simonhill1894)
“One of the great things now is I can play music a little more often now.
“I’m still very much into my metal and playing with the band.
“As soon as the pubs allow bands and punters back, we may be playing some gigs.”
Simon Hill: a genuinely nice guy, a talented broadcaster, writer and presenter, and passionate advocate for the Socceroos, A-League, women's football (and a bit of metal, too!).
For the game’s sake, let's hope he’s not lost to the A-League and Socceroos.
And if so, he'll leave a lasting legacy across the game’s landscape for future generations.
“I’m not quite ready to hang up the microphone, that’s for sure. I hope there is an opportunity to do that,” Hill added.
“It’s a global marketplace, that’s the great thing about football.
"The whole world is our oyster.”