Current assistant coach to Carey Payne at the Cats and iconic North Eastern Football League player Ryan Darling played his landmark 250th A grade game for the Blyth-Snowtown Cats in their big win over the Rams at Burra Oval last Saturday.
“It's pretty cool to get to the milestones and I wanted to keep it a bit low key because we, as a club have a bit of a history with people getting injured in their milestone games,” Darling told IN THE ZONE.
“Unfortunately it didn’t work as I got a bit of a hip injury and might miss a game or two.
“It's pretty cool to get to the milestones and play that much that footy with your mates.
“‘Mouse’ (Nick McCormack) and Gareth (Ottens) have both got to 250 games so I was nice to be up there with them and having played so much footy together.
“It will be nice to look back on in the future.
“The definite highlights were the three flags ’06, ‘11 and ‘13 and the boys grabbed another in ’07.
“On reflection that first senior flag in 06 was the best.
“We were underdogs and got pumped by 10 goals in the second semi -final, so to beat South was pretty awesome.
“I'll just try and keep playing for as long as I can.”
Darling now 32, (he doesn’t turn 33 until late December), played in a Senior Colts flag with a lot of his mates back in 2002 and a strong contingent has continued over the decade and a half since.
He has collected two Mail Medals, and finished in the top three in the count on another five occasions, played state country football and also had a season of SANFL league football with the Double Blues under Ricky McGowan in 2007.
A consistent NEFL and Central Zone representative player Darling is and has been one of the champions of country football and this association for a long period.
He has endured his share of injuries as well including an Achilles last year and a fractured skull in his second Mail Medal-winning season of 2012. He has won the Barracker, Coaches Footballer of the Year on three occasions as well.
He shared this with Zack Hier in 2011, won it outright in 2013 and shared it again with Josh Vater in 2014.
His coach Carey Payne said that Darling had an outstanding knowledge of the game and is a natural leader on and off the field.
TOUGH INITIATION FOR HAYES
BSR Tigers footballer currently in his second season of SANFL league football with Woodville West Torrens Jack Hayes made his SANFL state debut the match against Western Australia at Adelaide Oval last Saturday.
It was a tough initiation for the lad from Redhill as South Australia went down in the Hayden button Cup match by 26 points.
Hayes had had seven possessions and kicked a goal in the last quarter but it was a exacting day at the office.
His coach for this game dual Sturt premiership coach Marty Mattner suggested the game was a great learning experience for Jack.
“You need to remember two years ago he was playing reserves football and to achieve state level at 22 is a big effort,” Mattner continued.
“We had 13 former AFL listed footballers in our side and they had 11 it was one of the toughest and best quality games from an intensity point of view that I've been out involved with outside of AFL level.
“Jack will learn a lot from this experience and will be better for it moving forward.
“He has been an outstanding player in the SANFL since he started last year.”
Aaron Nietschke’s star just continues to rise.
After outstanding form with the Bulldogs over the opening six weeks, this continued last Sunday.
In the first game of phase two of the SA under 18s state program at Thebarton Oval, The SA Blue side, which Eudunda-Robertstown utility Aaron Nietschke was a key member, won a high class game in front of recruiting staff from all AFL clubs, by four points. Nietschke was outstanding, yet again playing in a variety of roles and was mentioned high in the best player lists.