Inaugural NT Thunder player and three-time Premiership player Cameron Ilett has today announced his retirement from NEAFL football, effective at the end of the 2017 season.
The 32-year-old informed the playing group before training this evening that he would hang up his boots at season’s end, after an unparalleled nine-year career in the Territory colours.
“This has been a really tough decision to make, but I knew coming into this season that it was probably going to be my last. Not that it makes it any easier,” he said.
“I’m still passionate about footy and love playing alongside the boys every week, but I’m looking forward to spending more time with my family.
“There is so much talent coming through the Thunder programs and AFLNT Academy, and I’m more than happy to step aside knowing the Club will thrive long into the future.
“I would like to thank everyone at the NT Thunder Football Club for embracing my family and me over the past nine years. When the time comes, I will leave here a player that has made friendships and memories that will last forever.
“To the Thunder members, sponsors and fans over the many years, thank you for your continued support, it has been an honour and privilege to play in front of the ‘Thunder family’ in Darwin, Alice Springs and at away games.
“I firmly believe because of the players that have worn this jumper before me that it is a great responsibility to pull on the Territory colours week in, week out and so I look forward to finishing the season strongly and seeing how far we can go in 2017.
“I’d like to make special mention of my family – my partner Jade, my three beautiful children Stella, Artiki and Summer, my parents Roger and Lesley, my brothers Jarred and Ryan and sister Chantelle and all my family and friends. Without your guidance and unwavering support, I wouldn’t have been blessed with this enriching experience.”
NT Thunder Head Coach Andrew Hodges paid tribute to one of the Club’s greatest players.
“Cam has been the ultimate player and person for our football club, he embodies our culture and values in every sense, and it is in-part thanks to his tireless work ethic both on and off the football field that we stand tall today,” Hodges said.
On the same day as his retirement announcement, Ilett jumped to the lead in the 2017 NEAFL MVP, and Hodges had nothing but praise for his star performer.
“His effort and attitude is second to none and to see him spend just as much time with the young footballers coming through the ranks, as he does with his teammates who have been there with him from day one, or the volunteers that fill water bottles on game day is very humbling and sums him up to a tee.
“Cam is a once in a generation type player, he puts his body on the line each week for the good of the team, and his professionalism on and off the field is outstanding.
“I’d like to thank him and his family for their outstanding contribution to our club. They will always be part of the Thunder family.
“And should Thunder or the wider organisation be able to help Cam further his coaching aspirations in the future then we will only be too happy to assist,” he said.
Ilett debuted in 2009 and is originally from the St Mary’s Football Club in the NTFL. He has since gone on to win three premierships, five club champion awards, a league medal and captained the Club from 2011 – 2014.
Debut: Round 1 2009 vs. Southport
Current NT Thunder games: 167
Current NT Thunder goals: 179
NT Thunder captain: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Premierships: 2011 (twice – Eastern and Northern conferences), 2015
NT Thunder Club Champion: 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016
NT Thunder Most Professional Award: 2016
NT Thunder Players’ Player Award: 2016
NEAFL Team of the Year: 2011- captain, 2013, 2014- captain, 2015- captain, 2016- captain
QAFL Team of the Year: 2009, 2010
Grogan Medal: 2011
Andrew Ireland Medal: 2011
100 NEAFL Games: Round 3, 2016