Main content
United by Purple

Hills humbled by Tim’s Starlight wish

It was Tim Timaepatue's Starlight Wish to meet the Hill brothers, but he got so much more. It was Tim Timaepatue's Starlight Wish to meet the Hill brothers, but he got so much more.

When a young Freo fan from the Tiwi Islands made a wish to meet Stephen and Bradley Hill, all three were given an experience they would never forget.

He could have picked anyone, or chosen anything to do – but he wanted to meet us.” These were the thoughts that stuck in the mind of Stephen Hill when 17-year-old Tim Timaepatue decided his Starlight Wish was to meet him and his brother, Bradley.

So when Tim arrived from the footy mad Tiwi Islands ahead of Freo’s round one clash with Geelong at Domain Stadium, he was treated to a VIP experience – which included being picked up from Perth Airport in a limousine.

Stephen broke the news to Tim that he would toss the coin as a part of the festivities for the annual Starlight Purple Haze Game, proudly presented by Fremantle Ports.

“When we told him his face just lit up and he had a massive smile,” Stephen said.

“You could tell how excited he was. It was a special moment.”

Even with a significant language barrier – traditional Tiwi is the main dialect of the Tiwi Islands – there was little that could get between Tim and the Hills.

When Tim arrived for training on the Thursday before game-day, he greeted Bradley with a secret handshake.

At training, he warmed up by playing kick to kick with the players and took part in some of the lighter drills.

He enjoyed a chat with senior coach Ross Lyon and many of the players took the time to say hello.

“He was a great kick of the footy,” Bradley said.

“I think up in Tiwi all they do is play footy, so they can all kick a football.

“We had a little kick around at training and he enjoyed it a lot.”

At lunch, Tim took a seat at an empty table, triggering a group of players to get up and sit with him.

Even after the players knocked off for the day, several stuck around for a marathon basketball session on the courts at Freo’s new training and administration facility at Cockburn Central.

“A few of the other boys came out and we were just having a bit of fun,” Bradley said.

“After we had lunch we got a bit of music on the basketball court and Tim even had a little dance with us.

“He and Sonny had a dance battle, so you could tell he had a great time.”

Thanks to the generosity of Freo fans, players and stakeholders, the club raised $147,880 for the Starlight Children’s Foundation helping seriously ill children and their families - bringing the grand total to $1.18 million from 15 years of Starlight Purple Haze games.

One of the more imaginative Purple Haze Pledges in 2017 came via defender Lee Spurr, who put forward $200 if former Fremantle captain and Fox Footy commentator Matthew Pavlich could kick a goal from the 50m arc while in his suit and leather shoes.

Pavlich agreed and upped the ante with $500 of his own money.

While live on the broadcast, Pavlich stepped up and slotted the goal (after missing a practice shot) and gave the crowd his signature fist pump one final time.

But the day belonged to Tim and fellow Starlight kids Orlena and Beau - the nephew of Michael Walters.

Despite the loss, the kids beamed as they came off the ground with the players.

Orlena was pushed in her wheelchair by Aaron Sandilands, Beau was on his uncle’s shoulders and Tim was at the side of the Hill brothers.

In the end, it was clear Tim wasn’t the only one who took a lot from the experience.

“Experiences like this make you think of when you were growing up and looking up to your own heroes,” Stephen said.

“So to have other younger kids looking up to us, it’s a good role to have and, hopefully, I can be a good role model to others.”

“It was awesome to meet him,” added Bradley.

“Stephen and I were both proud and surprised that he wanted to meet us out of anyone.

“And meeting him and just seeing his big smile - it’s something you can’t forget.

“That was probably the best part of it all, just having a good laugh and enjoying our time together.”

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs