NT Thunder players have been justly rewarded for another strong season, collecting accolades at the annual NEAFL Awards in Brisbane on Sunday night.
Retiring club champion Cameron Ilett finished runner-up in the coveted NEAFL MVP award while exciting forward Adam Sambono and everyone’s favourite full forward, Darren ‘Boof’ Ewing featured in the spoils.
Ilett lead by four votes going into the final round of MVP voting but it was Southport’s Jordan Keras who polled nine votes to seal his victory and thwart the fairytale finish for Ilett.
In better news for Thunder fans, Adam Sambono has been recognised as the best youngster in the NEAFL winning the 2017 NEAFL Rising Star.
At 20 years of age, the Daly River prospect is playing his first season in NT Thunder colours and wasted no time, announcing his arrival with an impressive six goals in the Territory’s Round 1 win over Aspley.
He amassed nine MVP votes in the same game, led the league’s goalkicker leaderboard to Round 8, won the ANZAC Day Medal in a four-goal best on ground performance against Redland in Round 4 and sat in second place in the NEAFL MVP after Round 8.
With a call-up to the Under 18 National Championships, Sambono put his NEAFL duties aside and finished the Home and Away Season with 10 games and 29 goals.
The Rising Star is awarded to the most promising young talent in the NEAFL competition.
Nominees must be under the age of 21 and played less than 20 senior games at the start of the 2017 season.
For the first time, Ewing was present on the night to receive his 2017 NEAFL Leading Goalkicker honours and didn’t disappoint.
The NT Thunder forward finished the Home and Away season with 61 goals to his name and an accuracy rate of 77 per cent.
Ewing has been no stranger to slotting plenty of goals in the Territory guernsey and has won eight consecutive leading goal kicker awards for the Club, that’s every year since NT Thunder’s inception in 2009.
He was also named NEAFL’s leading goal kicker in 2016 and 2015 and twice more, in 2013 and 2011 when the league was split into the northern and eastern conference.
In Round 12 this year, Ewing made history when he kicked his 700th Thunder goal. And he did it in emphatic style, kicking a whopping 10 goals at Manuka Oval against the Canberra Demons, his highest scoring game for 2017.
Having played every game this season, Ewing’s average accounted for just over three goals a game, and he was held goalless only once.
In his first 100 Thunder games, he was only kept goalless three times by the opposition, a remarkable feat.
Ewing will forever be in NT Thunder’s and NEAFL’s history books when in 2011 he became the first player to kick 100 goals in the one season.
Proving his worth, Ewing has been named in the NEAFL and the Northern Conference team of the year for seven consecutive seasons.
He is the only player to achieve such a feat and was named at full forward this year.
He was joined by Thunder teammates Ilett (centre) and Sambono (interchange) in receiving the 2017 NEAFL Team of the Year honours.
And in a nice touch, 100-game NEAFL players were honoured for their dedication to helping develop the League.
Ewing and Ilett received their recognition for respectively reaching the milestone in Round 1 and Round 3 2016, while courageous midfielder Matthew Rosier reached his century in Round 12 this year, and captain Shannon Rioli in Round 16.