NT Thunder’s loveable full forward Darren ‘Boof’ Ewing has called time on his illustrious career with the club, telling his teammates on Tuesday evening that season 2018 will be his last.
“I love this club, I love you blokes, and I love being part of all of this. I am very sad to have to make this announcement, but the memories and friendships I have made here will last forever. I am very proud to play for this football club, it has made me a better player and a better person,” he said.
A member of the inaugural NT Thunder side in 2009 and named full forward in the Team of the Decade, Ewing is one of only two players, along with Cameron Ilett, to have played every season of the club’s 10 years.
Ewing, his wife Lauren and their children, Lenny, Pippa and a soon-to-be-third, will relocate back to country Victoria near Warrnambool before the commencement of the next NEAFL season.
“I’d like to thank my beautiful wife Loz who has the tough job of looking after the kids when I’m away playing or training. She also has to put up with my sulking if I don’t kick any goals,” Ewing said.
The 31-year-old is NT Thunder’s games and goals record holder, currently sitting on 193 games and has kicked 780 goals in the black, white and ochre, which is an incredible average of just over four goals per game.
His first goal back in Round 1 2009 against Southport doubled-up as NT Thunder’s first-ever goal.
Ewing was an integral part of Thunder’s first premiership in 2011, and since that year he has missed only one game, which is extraordinary given his aversion to flying.
In the last game of the 2011 regular season, Round 21 against Labrador, he needed 12 goals to reach a remarkable century. A goal kicking masterclass in front of a home crowd at TIO Stadium then ensued. It included was a 65-metre torpedo, as players and fans alike willed him on.
Unfortunately, an 11-goal effort didn’t quite cut it, but a week later he made sure to etch his name into NT Thunder’s and NEAFL’s history books, becoming the first player to kick 100 goals in the one season.
His Thunder head coach at the time, Murray Davis said Ewing was a real character of the club who impressed him with the way he conducted himself.
“What stood out for me was that he was obviously a talented footballer, but he was also a proud player who cared about his performances, though always very humble and highly complimentary of his teammates’ hard work,” he said.
“Boof enjoyed kicking goals and fulfilling his role for the team, but he had a significant influence on the whole playing group.
“He’d tell you himself that he’s not a great trainer but he hardly ever missed a training session and that’s something I really admired,” Davis said.
Ewing has won nine consecutive leading goalkicker awards at the club; this year will be his tenth.
His 2015 premiership coach Xavier Clarke shared fond memories of his ‘old-school’ full forward.
“It was a pleasure coaching Boof for three years. I love his commitment to NT Thunder and his teammates,” he said.
“I also loved that he could change a game. I think he is the last of the traditional full forwards that people love to come and watch.
“His passions are for his family, footy, mates and Home and Away. Love ya Boof!” Clarke joked.
Such is Ewing’s goal kicking prowess he earned NEAFL leading goalkicker honours in 2017, 2016 and 2015 and twice more, in 2013 and 2011, when the league was split into the northern and eastern conference. In 2009, his first year, he won the QAFL leading goalkicker award.
Proving his worth, Ewing has also been named in the NEAFL and the Northern Conference team of the year for seven consecutive seasons (2011 – 2017) and holds the title of NEAFL games record holder (currently 153 games).
In Round 12 last year, the bustling forward made history when he kicked his 700th Thunder goal. And he did it in emphatic style, kicking a whopping 10 goals against the Canberra Demons but it wasn’t his biggest single haul. That feat came in 2013 when in Round 14 against Labrador he booted 14 majors.
In his first 100 games for NT Thunder, Ewing was kept goalless by the opposition only three times, an astonishing record.
Ewing said his achievements were made possible thanks to the tireless work of many.
“I’d like to thank everyone at the footy club, the coaches I’ve been fortunate to play under, all the boys who have run out alongside me and fed me good ball over the 10 seasons, the support staff and administrators who do the hard work behind the scenes, generous sponsors, proud fans and the many volunteers. The volunteers are the lifeblood of any club, and without them, we wouldn’t be fortunate to do what we love.
“I leave knowing there are great things in the future for NT Thunder and believe the young talent will excite fans and deliver the goods for years to come. And I look forward to watching it all. To sitting back, tuning into the ThunderVision stream and getting to be a fan,” Ewing said.
Current Thunder head coach Andrew Hodges said this weekend’s last home game against Southport would be a special occasion for players, staff and fans alike.
“Boof has been an outstanding servant for the club, his departure will be felt by all who know and love Thunder.
“In the offseason we’ll work hard on recruiting our next ‘Boof’, but he’s certainly unique and has left more than goalkicking boots to fill.
“It’s fitting that his first game and goal in Thunder colours was against Southport 10 years ago and now his last home game is against Southport, so I encourage all his and Thunder’s fans to get down to TIO Stadium this Saturday to see him one more time,” Hodges said.
Debut: Round 1 2009 vs Southport
2015 and 2011 Premiership player
NT Thunder Leading Goal Kicker 2017, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 09
NEAFL Leading Goal Kicker 2017, 16, 15, 13, 11
QAFL Leading Goal Kicker 2009
NEAFL Northern Conference Team of the Year 2013, 12, 11
NEAFL Team of the Year 2017, 16, 15, 14
2013 Syd Guildford Trophy nominee
2011 NEAFL representative player
Current NT Thunder games record holder (193)
Current NEAFL games record holder (and first to 100 games)
Biggest single haul: 14 goals vs Labrador at Yeronga Oval, Round 14 NEAFL 2013
First NEAFL and NT Thunder player to kick 100 goals in one season – 2011