Hillier: I never imagined I'd join Pompey Hall of Fame
Gemma Hillier admitted she '˜never imagined' she would be inducted into Pompey's Hall of Fame.
The lifelong Blues fan became the first former Pompey Ladies player to receive an award at last night’s ceremony at Fratton Park.
The Lee-on-the-Solent-born striker is part of the Hall of Fame’s class of 2018 along with Alan Rogers, Mick Kennedy and Mark Hateley, while Alex Wilson received a posthumous award.
Hillier spent 17 years playing for Pompey Ladies.
She made her debut at just 14 years old and, in total, made a club-record 293 appearances, scoring 99 goals before retiring last year.
And Hillier told of her gratitude for those who put her name forward.
She said: ‘I’m just so, so proud and what a recognition from the club.
‘I’m so grateful for whoever it was at the club who nominated me and the board to have agreed to it.
‘What an amazing achievement for me, my family and Pompey Ladies.
‘I never expected to be nominated at all.
‘There have been some of the famous people who have played for the club and for their countries.
‘I’d never have imagined that I would be invited to something like this.
‘I was at work when I found out – I’m a school teacher and had just finished an 11-hour day.
‘The Pompey Ladies chairman, Mick Williams, rang me up to tell me the board have decided to induct me.
‘I had to say to him “are you sure, are you sure?” and he obviously was!
‘The favourite moment of my career was playing at Fratton Park.
‘I’ve had the opportunity to play at the ground twice in my career.
‘The second time we beat QPR so that was the best feeling and to lead the team out as captain.
‘I made my debut playing women’s football aged 14.
‘I’m quite small so you can imagine what it was like against some of the women I came up against.
‘It was tricky but I had to learn to play the game a different way.’
After being the first woman to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, Hillier sees no reason why more of her former team-mates cannot also be given the same recognition.
She added: ‘There are a lot of people who played around the time I did at Pompey Ladies who had been at the club for around 10 years.
‘There’s no reason why some of the ladies who are a lot older than me can’t be inducted.’