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On 4 July, 2018, a sporting era seemed to pass as Hawthorn champion Cyril Rioli announced his retirement from AFL football, two weeks shy of his 29th birthday. Once the shock had subsided, the football world paused and applauded a one-of-a-kind player whose brilliance transcended club allegiances and old rivalries. Paying tribute to his star pupil, Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson summed it up best: “His ability to influence a contest with a minimal amount of disposals is like no player I have ever seen and that’s why the whole footy world loves watching him play.”
A pure footballer whose speed and skill delighted even hardened cynics, Cyril was one of the most decorated stars of League football, winning four Premierships and three All-Australian guernseys in 189 games as a key contributor to Hawthorn’s golden run under Clarkson.
In 2015 Cyril followed in the footsteps of his uncles Maurice Rioli and Michael Long, claiming the Norm Smith Medal with a scintillating display as the Hawks secured that remarkable hat-trick of Premierships. On Grand Final day, no player struck fear into opposition hearts as did Cyril Rioli.
From Cyril’s first thrilling days as a fresh-faced rookie in Hawthorn’s 2008 Premiership season, AFL Media photographer Michael Willson has been right on the spot, documenting the unpredictable genius of a football superstar in the compelling images in CYRIL: Celebrating a Hawthorn Champion. Emerging from Wilson’s stunning photographs is a unique and intimate portrait of a football star-not just showcasing the spectacular marks, freakish goals and thrilling tackles, but taking fans inside Hawthorn’s inner sanctum and letting us see the private Cyril.
A must for Hawthorn fans and lovers of the Australian game, CYRIL is a beautiful keepsake in honour of an irreplaceable player.
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