Burton 40: Simon Hilton
Can it really have been this long? It still seems odd not to have him around caroming around the McCormack rink like an out-of-control extra from Rollerball, but six years after the snowboarding accident that ended his Burton Hockey career, Simon Hilton's legacy looms large over BUSH.
Not only was he one of the original Burton Hockey founders, the Welshman was instrumental in lobbying the Burton Hall board to build the actual rink at John McCormack Park back in 1999, a early demonstration of his big heart and big desire to keep the gang together. He carried that heart onto the rink, where he worked and worked every shift of every game. Discipline was not necessarily an aspect of his game that he focused on; the erratic, freewheeling Hilton ploughed through opponents, nets, cage doors, you name it. There were days you wondered whether he even knew that you could stop on skates (Ultimate Burton deadpan humour moment: Simon ploughing through the goaltender and bowling into the net, sending both him and it flying eight feet all the way to the backboard. He pauses three seconds to collect himself as he's tangled up in twine, and then calmly states, 'Net's off!')! He always fought hard for the puck; he was an adept pickpocket and loved to blast the ball as soon as he got it no matter where he was, even if he was behind the net or had his back turned to it. Simon wasn't in it to win necessarily; he just loved to have fun out on the court with his friends, and we always had fun with him every time. That being said, he still managed to post 204 points in his only full season.
Simon also was a pioneer of dubious goaltending equipment; in the early days when goalies were having to fight over who got to wear the lone chest protector in BUSH's possession at the time, Simon created the brilliant 'S-2000' (a 3x2 piece of yellow mattress foam the goaltender would then duct-tape around his body). The S-2000 amazing managed to survive almost two months before it completely disintegrated.
Simon opted out of Burton Hockey after the first year, but came out of retirement to the delight of all of us in 2003. Even if he only made it back for a short time onto the rink before he was done for good, we treasured every second of it. He may no longer be playing, but Simon remains a part of the Burton Hockey crew and one of our best friends to this day. His humour and enthusiasm are positively infectious. A jovial stoner with a heart of gold, the role Simon played in the formational years of BUSH and Burton Hockey cannot be overstated. Our favourite Dude from Highway 6 is definitely one of the Burton 40.
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Ben de Wit