By AFLNT Media
Inaugural NT Thunder player, three-time Premiership player and NT Thunder Team of the Decade captain, Cameron Ilett has retired from NEAFL football.
The 33-year-old originally hung up his NT Thunder boots at the end of the 2017 NEAFL season before deciding he wanted to be part of the club’s milestone year and re-signed for his tenth season in January.
Ilett, who was in top form at the time, went on to win the 2017/18 NTFL Nichols Medal proving he was still the best talent in the Top End.
But after an unparalleled 10-year career in the Territory colours, the time has come for a favourite son to say goodbye.
Instead, Ilett will play at a more relaxed pace and prioritise family time and holidays when he pulls on the boots for the Tongala Football Club in the Murray Football League.
Tongala FC has strong ties to the Territory and has been talking to the star player for some years.
“The decision to retire from NT Thunder wasn’t any easier this time around. I absolutely love this club and think what’s to come is very exciting,” Ilett said.
“But after promising to spend more time with my family last time, next year I am committing to that and Tongala have put together a great package that allows me to have more time at home during the week and also to have family holidays down south.
“I leave Thunder knowing the club will thrive long into the future and look forward to coming back one day in some capacity, having more lessons and experiences to share.
“I would like to thank everyone at the NT Thunder Football Club for embracing my family and being part of my Thunder journey over the past 10 years.
“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 cheering on all the Thunder teams in 2019.
“NT Thunder has created an environment for players, coaches and administration to succeed provided they buy in, have the right attitude and want to continually improve both on and off the field.
“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. Thank you for allowing me to do what I loved for 10 years.”
AFLNT CEO and inaugural NT Thunder CEO, Stuart Totham said Ilett and his family had been big drivers of the club.
“Cam has given much of himself and contributed to the club over a long period. He was there from day one driving the standards, developing the culture and having a positive influence.
“As the years went by, he evolved with the Club and his leadership skills prospered. It is a sad day to have him say goodbye but we know he will stay close and we wish him, Jade and all the family the very best for their future,” Totham said.
NT Thunder Manager Andrew Hodges said work was underway for filling the void Ilett would leave.
“It will always be difficult to replace someone of Cameron’s calibre, he has been a stalwart of the Football Club. We counted ourselves lucky to get an extra season but as superhuman as Cam is, playing at NEAFL level demands full commitment and the time is right for Cam to take a step back.
“Our focus is in building a strong list in 2019. We have a number of young players who have shown leadership potential and will no doubt step up,” 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, six club champion awards, two league medals and captained the Club from 2011 – 2014. In June 2018, he was inducted into the NT Thunder Team of the Decade and was given the honour of being named captain.
Debut: Round 1 2009 vs. Southport
NT Thunder games: 189
NT Thunder goals: 185
NT Thunder captain: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Premierships: 2011 (twice – Eastern and Northern conferences), 2015
NT Thunder Team of the Decade captain
NT Thunder Team of the Decade inductee
NT Thunder Club Champion: 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017
NT Thunder Most Professional Award: 2016, 2017
NT Thunder Players’ Player Award: 2016, 2017
NEAFL Team of the Year: 2011- captain, 2013, 2014- captain, 2015- captain, 2016- captain, 2017, 2018
QAFL Team of the Year: 2009, 2010
Grogan Medal: 2011
Andrew Ireland Medal: 2011
100 NEAFL Games: Round 3, 2016