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Bolton sits alongside greats

Swans Media - Tanya Paolucci  February 24, 2014 2:34 PM

SwansTV: Craig Bolton HOF interview Craig Bolton spoke to SwansTV backstage after being announced into the Sydney Swans Hall of Fame
Craig Bolton on Friday night

Craig Bolton on Friday night

Former co-captain and premiership-winning defender Craig Bolton said he had to pinch himself when he learnt of his induction into the Sydney Swans Hall of Fame on Friday evening.

The two-time All Australian, who played 170 games in the red and white, was inducted alongside former team mate Barry Hall at Friday night’s Sydney Swans Guernsey Presentation and Hall of Fame event, which was attended by over 700 guests at The Star Events Centre.

Speaking to SwansTV backstage after receiving his award, Bolton said he never would have imagined that he’d sit in the annals alongside some of the club’s most famous names.

“It’s humbling and it’s an amazing feeling,” Bolton told SwansTV.

“I never thought I’d be held in the same breath of guys like (John) Heriot, (Peter) Bedford and even Barry Hall tonight, so I’m just so thankful for what this club’s given me.

“To be recognised like this, it’s hard to believe.

“They are a great club. The Swans believe in strong values and they’ve got a really long and proud history that they are so proud of.

“They connect with South Melbourne, they look after their own and you see them week in, week out, year after year, they are always giving their best on field.”

After playing four years with the Brisbane Lions, Bolton made his way south to the Swans in 2003 at pick three in the Pre-Season Draft.

The dour defender made an instant impact at his new club and became a regular in the Swans defensive structure and only missed one match in his first seven seasons at the club.

Regularly tasked with taking on the opposition’s leading forward, Bolton was quickly acknowledged as one of the competition’s toughest backmen.

Fellow Hall of Fame inductee, Barry Hall said he had always been impressed with Bolton’s on-field talents.

“I would have hated to play on him because he was one of the more difficult players to play on,” Hall said.

“He was very strong physically, very quick on the lead.

“He was always outsized but he did a fantastic job for us and I really want to congratulate him (on his induction) because he deserves it.”

Bolton was named co-captain midway through the 2008 season in place of Hall and remained in that position until the end of 2010, before announcing his retirement on the eve of the 2011 season.

The Canberra-born player said he could not have asked for a better career than the one he enjoyed at the Swans.

“I feel very privileged to have been invited to play at this club many years ago and now I feel honoured to be a part of it and will be forever,” he said.

“The 2005 (premiership) goes without saying and that was an incredible feeling, particularly to give something back to the supporters who had waited around for all those decades.

“Just to be able to play week in, week out with a great bunch of people - and we had a pretty solid, settled team for a long period of time - it was a great period and it was a great time in my life and is something that I’ll forever be indebted to the club for.”

Since retiring from the game, Bolton has not strayed far from football and was recently appointed General Manager at AFL NSW/ACT.

The 33-year-old said he hoped to continue to spread his passion for AFL both in Sydney and beyond.

“I think all Swans supporters are supporters of footy in general, and we’re trying to grow the game in New South Wales and the ACT and I’m really passionate about it,” he said.

“I was lucky enough to grow up here and play here and we need to keep bringing this gift out there to people who haven’t experienced it.

“It’s on nights like tonight that we realise how special this game can be, so I’m incredibly lucky to be working in an industry that I love so much and trying to help put this game on the pedestal it deserves.”