Norwich born striker Damian Hilton joined Third Division strugglers
Brighton on 12th March 1998. Despite signing a one-year deal in
the summer of 1997, Damian's second season as a professional at
Carrow Road did not result in any league appearances although
he had made the substitutes bench. His height enables him to play
comfortably in defence although his passing skills have seen him
deployed in midfield with Norwich's Reserves.
Damian's sourjourn at the Goldstone Ground was brief as he was
released at the end of the 1997/98 season. After a spell playing
for IFK Lulea in the Swedish First Division, Damian returned to
England. He played for King's Lynn in their pre-season games and
signed for them, playing in their opening Dr Martens league game
of the 1998/99 season. Damian then suffered from Gilmore's Groin
which limited him to three appearances for the Linnets. Although
he recovered, he was no part of manager Gary Mills' plans and
Damian parted company with Lynn by "mutual agreement" in March
Damian dropped into the Jewson Eastern Counties League, signing
first for Watton and playing one game for them against Sudbury
Town on 13th March. The following week, he joined the masses of
ex-Canaries at Wroxham.
In October 1999, Damian suffered a career threatening injury when
he severed his tibia and fibula in a clash with Harwich's keeper
on 9th October 1999. He missed most of the 1999/2000 season hampering
Wroxham's chances of retaining the Jewson Eastern League championship
according to Wroxham manager Bruce Cunningham who believed Damian
should be performing as a full-time professional.
He returned to form and played for Wroxham until the summer of
2003 when he departed Trafford Park for Lowestoft. This lasted
until the end of November 2003 when he returned to Wroxham.
After Bruce Cunningham quit Wroxham at the end of the 2004/5
season, Hilton was given the role of caretaker manager for the
Norfolk Senior Cup final which was lost 3-0 to Robert
Fleck's Diss. However this did not deter the Yachtsmen's board
of directors in appointing Hilton manager on 18th May 2005. Wroxham's
head trustee and treasurer, Kenny Cooke added: "In view
of Damian Hilton's long service and experience at Wroxham, we
believe he had a head start over all the other applicants, who
we thank for showing interest. And although we hope for a very
successful season, we do not expect miracles because we realise
it may take time to get the Yachtsmen back on course towards previous
triumphs. I am greatly encouraged that the process has already
begun because of the interest shown by returning sponsors, who
have expressed a willingness to support the club under the new
manager." The new manager, a Norwich Union Insurance
consultant said: "I am resigned to the fact that some
of last season's players will not be renewing their contracts,
and there is no point in trying to persuade people to stay who
have already made up their minds to move on. Having said that,
I have a nucleus who have expressed their allegiance and loyalty
to the club and these are the brand of players I am looking for
to rebuild the team into a competitive outfit that the discerning
fans can be proud of." He concluded "I hope to
sign up an assistant shortly, and I also believe the club needs
an experienced scout to trawl through the lower leagues for fresh
talent, which I am certain is out there waiting to be discovered."
Hilton steped down from the role of player-manager in November
2007. He told club officials that although he was concerned about
the recent disciplinary problems, he was standing down because
he still wanted to play and management was getting in the way.
I have enjoyed running the team and winning the championship,
but since I've been back on the field filling in for players who
were unavailable, I've come to realise I cannot also manage effectively.
So if I want to be part of a playing team on the pitch I feel
I ought to give up the manager's job. Quite simply I cannot do
both and I wish to carry on playing while I am able.
Hilton had second thoughts about his future in local football
and wished for his job back while considering playing only in
the case of absolute necessity for the good of the team and so
was re-appointed to the position of Wroxham manager. Hilton said
"I never wanted to leave Wroxham Football Club.
Okay, I changed my mind about playing and managing but after realistically
considering my position where else could I go? I'm very optimistic
about the future of this football club. I have to deal with a
couple of problems that have caused a few upsets in recent games
and I intend to grasp the nettle and take prompt action for the
common good. I've been promised assistance from Graham Challen
and Gavin Lemmon in training sessions and that will give me more
time to study fresh talent as I prepare for next season and beyond.
On 26th March 2008, Hilton led Wroxham to another Norfolk Senior
Cup victory, winning 3-1 against Sherringham. Wroxham's team included
former Canaries Ben Thompson, Josh
Carus, Alex Notman, Lee
Gilman plus unused subsitutes Danny Self
and Shaun Howes
On 16th November 2008, Hilton stepped down as Wroxham manager
for personal reasons. By the end of the month, he had signed for
In September 2009, Damian signed for Norwich United on Ridgeons
League terms though Lowestoft will retain his Ryman League registration.
He later left Lowestoft to sign for Needham Market. In the 2009/10
season, Needham Market won both the Ridgeons League and the Ridgeons
Damian returned to Wroxham in July 2010
He replaced Paul Chick as manager of Norwich United on 9th October
2012, however his first game saw United lose 2-1 at home to Gorleston.
He quit to return as Wroxham’s manager on February 11 with assistant John Eldridge taking charge of Norwich United. Hilton leaves Norwich United as runaway leaders at the top of the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division. Hilton said: “I’m looking forward to a new challenge at a club playing in Step 4 of the football pyramid. Wroxham is a club very close to my heart and I have had many successful years (at) as both a player and a Manager before. The short-term task is very difficult as I will be looking to retain our status in the Ryman League but in the long-term, it has a massive potential and something I am really looking forward to. There is a great infrastructure at the club as are the people behind the scenes.”