Season 2018 has come to a close for both of our NT Thunder teams after a year of many highlights.
While our men’s team didn’t make finals, there were still many positives to come out of the season that was.
Abraham Ankers had a stellar year winning the Ilett Medal for the first time, polling 141 votes at the NT Thunder Club Champion Presentation Night held in August. Runner-up on 125 votes was last year’s Medallist Cameron Ilett followed by defender Sam Smith, leading goalkicker Darren Ewing and young ruckman Jack Monigatti.
Ankers and Ilett were also recognised for their great seasons at the NEAFL Awards held in Sydney being named in the Team of the Year, and Liam Patrick won Mark of the Year for his high flying grab in Round 14.
Thunder debuted plenty of young local talent including Rodney Baird, Zane Clarke- Edwards, Dominic Forbes, Matt Green, Malcolm Rosas and Izaak Wyatt, with Rosas named in the U16s All Australian team and selected for the Futures match which is the curtain raiser to this weekend’s AFL Grand Final.
Two other young players, Matthew Green and Michael Mummery were also participants of the National Level 2 Academy.
Thunder Head Coach Andrew Hodges has been reappointed for two more seasons after a mid-season review which highlighted some areas for improvement but also clearly indicated that he is the best person to lead the club forward to at the least the end of the 2020 season.
Being coach of Thunder would have to be one of the most challenging coaching roles in the industry. To his credit, Andrew has built brilliant relationships with the players, administration and support crew; he also has excellent technical skills. With some improved help around him and a playing list with more depth, we believe he is the best person to deliver success for Thunder’s men.
In our first year of VFL W football, the ThunderW were highly successful, making finals and eventually finishing fourth on the ladder.
Given the team was only put together a couple of months before the season started, we had no idea what to expect. Other than committing to playing our brand of ‘Territory tough’, to do so well at our first go, when we were up against a heavy travel schedule and training bases in different locations, it is a remarkable effort.
A total of 54 players represented NT Thunder this VFL W season, a huge effort from coach Tim Weatherald and his crew to keep them all focused and committed from the getgo.
Captain Angela Foley was a deserving winner of the inaugural Best and Fairest Award with Jasmyn Hewett, a worthy runner-up. Emma Swanson, Jordann Hickey and Renee Forth rounded out the top five.
Our women were further rewarded at the VFL W Awards held in Melbourne with Foley and Swanson joined by our leading goalkicker Jessica Sedunary as Team of the Year recipients, and coach Tim Weatherald has now joined the Adelaide Crows AFL W team as an assistant coach.
Hewett was recognised within the VFL W Play of the Year for her high flying mark in Round 5 against the Western Bulldogs, rivalling Liam Patrick’s NEAFL Mark of the Year.
A full list of our club awards can be found on our website, and it is well worth the read to see all the names who were recognised – click here.
As we all know, it takes a team behind the scenes to put a squad on the paddock, and I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of the whole NTFC and AFLNT, to recognise the backing of our key behind the play people.
Our genuine heartfelt acknowledgement and thanks go to our team of volunteers – some whom worked across all of our programs. We are very fortunate to have the support of these wonderful people, ensuring our young players have every chance to reach their football goals.
Jamie Barry and Mitchell Stennett were awarded our Volunteers of the Year for Thunder and Jamie was also awarded the AFLNT Volunteer of the Year, which sees him travel to Melbourne for a deserved AFL Grand Final reward.
We’d also like to thank our sponsors and stakeholders, some of who were new to 2018 and got right behind our endeavours and others who have stuck by us for a number of years now. Without your loyalty and commitment, we’d not be able to run our programs or provide our players and coaches with the same opportunities.
To finish, this year our players exhibited our club values exceptionally with a professional approach, a united front, and a relentless attitude. They showed respect for all and put their talent on display – we are very Territory proud of how they represented our sport, their families and themselves.
We wish the players well as they now turn their attention to their respective NTFL and AFL W seasons and look forward to following their progress.
And we hope to see you again in season 2019 for bigger and better things.