By MYLES STEDMAN
Talking to NT Thunder’s Darren Ewing, you wouldn’t know he holds both the NEAFL’s games and goals records, currently sitting at 149 and 601 respectively.
Perhaps his All-League standard has just become part and parcel of pulling on the boots each week, or maybe his down-to-earth joviality and sense of humility has helped him to two premierships for the Territory.
Now, a week after surpassing 600 NEAFL goals, Ewing will this week become the first player to reach 150 NEAFL games.
“It’s something I’m proud of, but it’s not something I’m too worried about now,” Ewing said, when prompted to discuss the incredible marks he’s continually bettering each week.
“It’s all about the team success at the moment – I worry more about that.”
While NT is not quite the beast this season they have been in years past, any team with ‘Boof’ on it will prove tough to beat, and at only two wins back from the top eight, Ewing is confident in what his club is capable of.
“A few things just haven’t gone our way (this season), but we’ve got a really talented list,” he said.
“We just need to work really hard the next six weeks and try and sneak into the finals.”
Despite it looking more unlikely the Thunder will be lifting the premiership cup this season, Ewing’s outlook on 2018 offers insight into why the big man plays such carefree footy, enjoying repeat performances week-in, week-out.
“Even though we haven’t had as much success this year, it’s still probably been one of my favourite years. I really enjoy the group of guys and getting to training,” Ewing said.
“I think 2011 (the team’s first premiership) we recruited really well, we got Andrew McLeod back to the club, that got a bit of excitement going around the place, and we got a few other guys back.
“We had a good year the year before, we were building, and we added a few more polished players and we were very well coached by Murray Davis.
“That was one of my favourite years,” Ewing said, discussing the serious business of winning premierships like a little kid just happy to be running around with his friends.
“2015 (the team’s second premiership) was the same, we were pretty unlucky the year before, we recruited well again and Xavier Clarke was coaching, so there was a bit of excitement.
“We all bought in and had a great year.”
If enjoyment is the secret to Ewing’s success, he certainly doesn’t hide it – the 182cm, 98kg key forward is equally as joyously flippant about his own craft and his incredible ability to kick goals.
“Sitting at full forward is pretty handy,” Ewing laughed, when prodded on the secrets of his longevity.
“Playing that position you don’t do as much as the boys up the ground, but I’ve just been lucky to have played in good sides. I’ve got good delivery every week; I’ve been very lucky I guess.
“I certainly wouldn’t say it’s from doing too much exercise.”
However, Ewing is certainly serious about the role his club plays in football in the Top End, and the impact it can have now and into the future for young locals.
“It’s massive, ever since the club’s come on board in 2009, the local blokes who want to play at a higher level can stay at home (to play footy) and stay with their family,” he said.
“The NEAFL’s a good league, it’s got a good track record of getting people drafted, and it’s great for Territory boys who chose to stay at home.
“It’s a great program, and we’ve got some pretty good facilities up here in the Michael Long Centre. There’s no reason in future years younger blokes can’t stay at home and get drafted.
“Family’s a big thing up here with all the boys, and if they play good enough footy they’ll get picked up.”
Likewise, Ewing has seen a seismic shift in the NEAFL in his eight seasons dominating the competition.
“It’s gotten better ever year, the AFL clubs take it a bit more seriously now, they’re hard to beat,” Ewing said.
“I think the way they do it now works, I’m pretty happy with the league, it’s quite strong.”
Despite being in the midst of another strong season, as he currently sits on 12 games and 33 goals, NEAFL has become a far larger commitment for Ewing in the past few years than when he was a younger man.
However Thunder fans can breathe easy, as Ewing hasn’t considered retirement just yet.
In typical Boof fashion, he’s keeping it simple, working on feeling, and not thinking that far into the future.
“I don’t plan too far ahead, but obviously it’s getting a little bit harder,” he said.
“I’ve got a couple of kids now and one coming in August, so it’s a massive commitment, but I’m still enjoying it. I still love coming to training and playing, but it’s something we’ll weigh up at the end of the year and see what happens.
“I think even if I don’t play NEAFL I’ll definitely be playing somewhere, but you never know what’s going to happen…my body feels alright, so I’ll keep going.”
“Until you drop dead?”
Join our NEAFL Tipping Competition for your chance to win cash! Register here.
Don’t forget to download our free NEAFL App, featuring live Champion Data stats, player bios and more! Available now from the Google Play and Apple stores.
Have your say! Follow the NEAFL on Twitter (@neaflofficial), Instagram (@neaflofficial) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/neaflofficial).