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Will's Premiership Past

Will's Premiership Past Will Hoskin-Elliott has discovered a premiership link to the year the ANZAC's landed at Gallipoli
Will Hoskin-Elliott with his great grandfather's Premiership memorabilia.
A premiership medal here at the GIANTS, after starting from scratch, to get up and win one with the boys would be incredible. That’s the goal.
Will Hoskin-Elliott

Over the past few months GIANTS forward Will Hoskin-Elliott has gone on a journey of discovery, exploring a unique family link to the year the ANZACs landed at Gallipoli.

Until a few months ago, Hoskin-Elliott knew very little about a relative that had played in the VFL (as the AFL used to be known) early in the 1900s.

But things have turned quickly for the quietly spoken 21-year old and his family.

As Australia and New Zealand prepare to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ANZACs landing at Gallipoli this Saturday, Hoskin-Elliott has discovered he is the only current AFL player to have a relative play in that 1915 season.

“The last month, two months, I’ve really got to know about Charlie and his history in footy,” said Hoskin-Elliott.

"Before that I knew Charlie played footy and that was it.”

Hoskin-Elliott has discovered his great grandfather is Charlie Norris - a man with a story as unique as his great grandson’s ability to find the goals.

Norris played 124 games for Collingwood and Fitzroy from 1910-1918, collecting three premierships during his career - a substantial number of games considering the shorter seasons of the era.

Norris made his VFL debut at the not so tender age of 28 and remains the oldest player in VFL/AFL history to make a debut at that age and still reach 100 games. He retired at 37 years of age.

Due to a change of name in the Norris/Elliott family many years ago, the link has only been discovered recently, with Will’s father Rodney making contact with Pauline Allen - the niece of Charlie Norris.

In a strange twist of events, the premiership memorabilia of this long lost relative, won in Melbourne 100 years ago, has been just up the M1 freeway near Newcastle - only two and a half hours' drive from Hoskin-Elliott’s western Sydney home.

Pauline and her husband Graeme recently visited the GIANTS’ Learning Life Centre at Sydney Olympic Park, meeting Hoskin-Elliott for the first time and sharing with him their treasured memorabilia.

“My mum gave me this box when it was the 150th anniversary (of the AFL) and she said ‘you’ll probably want this’. She gave me this box and I thought they were cricket caps,” said Pauline when showing her great nephew the family’s buried treasure for the first time.

“But she said ‘they’re your grandfathers' hats’, and my dad had never bragged about his prowess or anything like that.

“My father would just be so proud - just like I know his great uncles are - that he has this heritage.”

Hoskin-Elliott was blown away when holding the precious collection that has been in the family for over a century.

“I didn’t even know they gave you hats. Look at that - the name is engraved and everything. That’s crazy,” said Hoskin-Elliott.

“Premiership medals, premiership caps. It’s just incredible - you can just look at it for hours.

“I’d like to go back and watch him actually - that would be pretty cool.”

Graeme (no relation to GIANTS General Manager of Football, Graeme 'Gubby' Allan) is overjoyed to be sharing this link between the year the ANZAC’s landed and modern football a century later.

“It’s been a long journey and I know Pauline’s father would be extremely proud to know that Will has carried the line, even thought it may not be the Norris line in terms of name, but carried it through to the AFL in such a distinguished manner,” Allen said.

As he sits in the GIANTS' training centre 100 years after his great grandfather won his own medals, Hoskin-Elliott knows that it’s a vastly different football landscape to what has gone before him.

Having joined the club as the fourth pick in the 2011 draft that has been the backbone of the GIANTS, Hoskin-Elliott is hungry to now write his own page in the history books of his family, and the AFL.

“A premiership medal here at the GIANTS, after starting from scratch, to get up and win one with the boys would be incredible. That’s the goal.”