Former Matamata Swifts footballer, Scott Hilliar, is making a name for himself in the cut-throat world of Australian semi-professional football.

On Sunday December 5, Scott captained his Melbourne-based team, Avondale FC, as they won the Victorian state-wide Dockerty cup final. Avondale won 1-0 over Hume City thanks to a late penalty, with Hilliar’s role, as a central defender, critical in keeping a match winning clean sheet for his team.

Open to every club in Victoria, more than 210 of them, the Dockerty Cup win was Avondale’s first major trophy and a huge milestone for a club relatively new to the state’s top flight. Scott is one of only two permitted non-Australians in the squad, so to have the honour of captaining the team and lifting the cup was a huge thing for the young Kiwi.

“This has to count as one of the highlights of my football career to date,” said Scott in the aftermath of his team’s win. “It’s the sort of thing footballers live for and makes training four days a week in a tough semi-pro environment all the more worthwhile.”

Scott was delighted to share his team’s win with fellow import, Mario Barcia, with whom he played during his time at New Zealand national league club Wellington FC. “We’re both expected to play senior roles in the team so there’s nothing better than to see that work and responsibility rewarded with silverware.”

Avondale’s success in the Dockerty Cup has coincided with a run that has seen them take a place in the round of 16 of the Australian-wide FFA Cup, a competition that includes A-League clubs. In a superb twist of fate, Avondale’s next opponents will be the Wellington Phoenix in a match to be played on the evening of Tuesday December 14.

Scott’s football journey began as a six-year-old with Matamata Swifts. He still talks of his time with the Matamata Orcs who, back then, went undefeated for more than four years. He made lifelong friends at the club, with whom he is still in touch.

Progressing through high school, which involved time at both Matamata College and St Paul’s Collegiate, Scott carved out a reputation as a nationally ranked middle-distance runner, before taking up football seriously in his late teens.

He played senior football for Hamilton’s Melville United, then embarked on a New Zealand national league career with stints at WaiBOP United, Waitakere United and Team Wellington. The highlight of his time with Wellington was a 2018 trip to the FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, which was won by a Gareth Bale-inspired Real Madrid.

Scott has been based in Australia since 2019 after he was offered a semi-professional contract by Avondale FC, following an earlier stint at fellow Melbourne club, Richmond FC.

Scott also had a special word for Swifts’ life member Barry Simonsen, who recently passed away. “Simmo always took an interest in how I was going, as he did with all the club’s players,” he said. “He was always around when I was a junior at the Swifts and kept in touch as the years passed. He’ll be missed.”

Photo: Avondale FC’s social media.