PRESENTING the medal struck in his honour to his son, Sam, was one of the proudest moments in Darren Thompson’s time at Eaglehawk Football Netball Club.
Medals recognising three of the club’s greats – George Ilsley, Alan ‘Bruiser’ Williams and Darren Thompson – are awarded to the team champions each season.
It was a dramatic finish to the under-18s vote count for the 2012 season.
After the final card was called at Liborius Centre in Eaglehawk, Sam Thompson was on 107 votes, with Brodie Hawke on 106.
“It was an amazing finish to the vote count,” Darren said as he stood on Canterbury Park, a ground in which he starred in many matches on the way to winning six senior club best and fairest awards.
“My heart seemed to be racing at a 100 miles an hour,” he said of the final minutes of the vote count.
“I knew Sam had a reasonably good season, but didn’t see a lot of his matches because of coaching the under-14s.
“Presenting the medal to him was a big thrill.
“Having a medal named after you is fantastic, so to have a son win it makes it even more special.”
Playing his second season in the under-18s, Sam played a mix of half-forward, half-back, centre and wing.
“Winning the medal was amazing,” said Sam of a season in which Aiden Metcalf and Dwayne Smith were joint coaches of the Hawks under-18s.
Although he qualified for the under-16 1/2 team last year, Sam decided to play under-18s.
After breaking his leg in a school match for Bendigo Senior Secondary College, Sam missed seven matches for the Two Blues in 2011.
He went into this footy season fitter and stronger than a year earlier.
“Training in the gym helped a lot,” he said of adding a couple of kilos.
Just like his dad who set up many attacks from half back, Sam’s pace and kicking are major strengths of his game.
“I need to work on attacking the ball and contest more,” he said.
“Dad has given me lots of tips over the years, and a lot of support.” Darren was Sam’s first coach when he started with the under-12s.
Sam’s previous best and fairest award win was with the under-15s in 2010.
Darren’s career with the Two Blues includes two under-18 best and fairest wins and playing in two senior grand finals in which the Borough was defeated by Northern United. A busy year for Darren included coaching the under-14s team, which included son Ben, to a runner-up finish.
On Saturday afternoons and one Sunday, Darren was runner for the Luke Monaghan-coached senior team.
The Thompson clan of parents Darren and Gayle, also includes Darcy, under-17s netball for the Hawks; Jack, under-12 footy for the Borough; and Maggie.
Sam, 17, is back on the field this Saturday playing cricket for Eaglehawk.
Last summer he played under-17s for the Hawks in the morning and then division two with West Bendigo, in which Darren was a batsman and wicket-keeper, in the afternoon.
A highlight was the Thompsons teaming up for a 134-run stand in West Bendigo’s outright win against Golden Gully in the sixth round. Sam hit a career-high 96 and Darren scored 61.
The summer was capped by West Bendigo scoring an 83-run victory in the grand final against Emu Creek.