NT Thunder Football Club’s co-captain Abraham Ankers has been duly recognised as one of the best players and most respected leaders in the NEAFL competition when he was awarded 2019 NEAFL Team of the Year captaincy honours.
Presented at the NEAFL MVP Awards in Brisbane last night, Ankers was selected by the panel in the position of rover, a nod to his damaging form in the midfield. It’s the second consecutive season that Ankers has received Team of the Year honours.
A first-time captain for Thunder this season, the 24-year-old played all 18 games; travelling more than 45,500 kilometres from his home base in Alice Springs to lead the side, especially with co-captain Shannon Rioli missing most of the season due to injury. His resilience and dedication saw him highly regarded amongst his teammates and opposition.
Ankers averaged just over 26 disposals per game and kicked 17 goals for the season. He was ranked number two in the NEAFL for contested possessions and number one for inside 50s.
Ankers was NT Thunder’s only selection in the Team of the Year, which can be viewed here.
The purple patch Ankers enjoyed in the second half of the season also saw him well in contention to take home the NEAFL MVP, which ended up going the way of Sydney University’s Jake Bartholomaeus. Ankers finished third overall, six votes off the lead.
At Round 12, the last round before the votes became secret; Ankers sat in eighth spot on 32 votes (a combined tally from coaches and umpires throughout the season). He was 20 votes adrift of Sydney Swans youngster James Rowbottom and nine behind three-time MVP winner, Aspley’s Matt Payne.
His best on ground performance in Round 4’s win against Redland saw him receive the maximum 10 votes, which he backed up in Round 17 after his 43 disposals also against Redland, in front of a vocal home crowd in Alice Springs. He went from fourth on the leaderboard to second, only six votes behind Payne.
A bye in Round 18 saw him fall back to third before a three-vote get in Round 19 in Thunder’s loss to Sydney Uni saw him move into equal second, still three off Payne. In Round 20 Ankers received four votes, passing Payne but falling one behind the new leader, Bartholomaeus. Going into the final round, the MVP was within grasp of four players; Bartholomaeus, Ankers, Payne and Canberra’s Rising Star winner, Angus Baker.
With neither Ankers or Payne polling in the Aspley versus Thunder game on Saturday, the door was left ajar for Baker, who tied things up on 68 votes before Bartholomaeus snatched victory on 73.