Heidelberg’s ‘Twin Towers’ are no more. Steven Pace – one half of the legendary defensive pairing of he and Luke Byles – has retired, and typically ‘Pacey’ goes without fuss or fanfare. At 36, Pace takes his leave of the club and the game with trademark grace and dignity. Understated as always, the ‘Barometer’ opted for a no-fuss exit, following Sunday evening’s unexpected NPL Cup defeat at the hands of Perth.

When I saw him briefly in the gloomy post-game Port Melbourne social club he shared little footy talk in the wake of the upset defeat, instead electing to seek out and bask in the support of family in a far corner of the room. Typical of Pace, really. It was his eyes that gave it away, though. His friendly greeting was familiar and warm, but there was no avoiding the doleful, reflective look as he said simply “six amazing years, Blakey”.

So, we say goodbye and thankyou – as a player, at any rate – to one of the greats. Thanks seems hardly enough. The family guy, a beautiful soul. And a bloody fearless competitor, who bows out a decorated and favorite Warrior son. As I wrote about Pace in a 150 game tribute earlier this season, his demeanour is beyond reproach, without fail carrying himself with a quiet dignity, unhurried and graceful, understated and polite. He has time for everyone. “I just try and treat everyone with respect and do the best I can as a footballer for the club”, Pace explained at the time.

 Again drawing on his 150 game tribute on the HUFC club website in July, Pace was unequivocal is declaring his six years at Warrior headquarters the best and most memorable years of his playing career. “Yes without a doubt (the best years of my playing life)”, he said at the time. “The Heidelberg football club has been great to me and the success we have had over the past two years has made for an incredible experience. It’s the people around the club who make it so special”.

I rate Pace right up with the very best I’ve seen in the past 20 years and I can only iterate something I wrote previously, you don’t just watch Steven Pace play. Rather, one luxuriates in his mastery. Peerless during his era at Catalina Street, Pace, at his best, is simply sublime. Steven, thank you hardly seems sufficient. But it’s the best I can do right now.

Steven Pace Honours

Joined 2014 | Played 159 games | 12 Goals
2017 Premiers Plate, Dockerty Cup, Aust NPL Championship
2018 Premiers Plate, VIC NPL Championship, Community Shield
2019 Premiers Plate

Footnote – Steven, just a reminder about you joining the HUFCTV team, now you’ve hung up the boots. I think you said you would on the undertaking that “only if you go on for another year, Blakey”. Well, Steven, I’m hoping to go around again in 2020. I’ll reserve a seat in commentary for you.

Warrior Nation.