Fremantle defender Joel Hamling’s touching tribute to late father as he returns home to the Kimberley

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Jakeb WaddellBroome Advertiser
Joel Hamling and his late father James.
Camera IconJoel Hamling and his late father James. Credit: Instagram

AFL premiership player and Broome product Joel Hamling has posted a touching tribute to his late father after returning home to the Kimberley.

The Fremantle Dockers defender travelled up to the region recently after his father, James, died after a long battle with illness in December.

Hamling, who won a flag with the Bulldogs in 2016, posted several photos of his Kimberley trip to Instagram on Sunday showing him venturing to Black Rock and the Lower Ord in Kununurra and The Grotto near Wyndham.

“Oh how I missed this place,” Hamling wrote.

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“Wet season best season. RIP Dad. X.”

Hamling first opened up about his father’s illness in 2016, citing it as the main reason for departing the Bulldogs and coming back to WA to play for Fremantle after a two-year stint, a decision he called one of the toughest of his life.

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After his death in December, Hamling said he was forever grateful for what his father had done for him.

“It’s been an absolutely pleasure dad,” he posted online.

“I’ll never ever forget what kind of bond we had. I bloody. . . love you mate.

“Until we meet again, RIP.”

Hamling was raised in the Kimberley, where he attended St Joseph’s Primary School in Kununurra and later Broome Senior High School and first played football for the Cable Beach Greenbacks.

The injury-ridden talent missed a match simulation for the Dockers for personal reasons last week, but is on track to play in round one next month, which would mark just his second game in three seasons.

Coach Justin Longmuir said in December he anticipated Hamling, who had two surgeries on his ankle after dislocating it at the beginning of 2020, would play in Fremantle’s season opener against Adelaide on March 20.

Also eyeing a round one spot is fellow Broome product Bailey Banfield, who notched six games in 2021, all coming in the last seven rounds of the home and away season.

Banfield, whose career began with the Dockers in 2018, has signed a one-year rookie deal for 2022 after a battle with injuries and form.

Carlton’s Jack Martin rounds out Broome’s AFL stars. The 27-year-old has played 26 games across two seasons from the Blues, after leaving Gold Coast at the end of 2019.

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