When football fans walk through the Bonson gates at TIO stadium, they are reminded of the Bonson family, one of Darwin’s most famous and most talented footballing clans.
The son of Buffaloes champion and AFLNT Hall of Famer, Don Bonson, Joe Bonson commenced his League career in 1953/54 with the Nightcliff Tigers Football Club.
Considered by many to be one of the greatest footballers ever to play in the Northern Territory, Joe Bonson was an elite local footballer that played the game so well he helped put Territory football on the map.
Joe was one of four Bonson brothers to play League football with the Nightcliff Tigers. A supremely talented footballer, Joe Bonson also played for North Adelaide in the SANFL and West Perth in the WAFL.
Joe Bonson was a member of the Tigers Grand Final runners-up teams in 1957/58 and 1965/66. He then claimed the ultimate prize in the NTFL, being a member of the Tigers Premiership winning teams in 1956/57, 1960/61 and 1964/65.
Twice runner-up in the Nichols Medal, Joe Bonson went on to win the coveted medal in 1958/59 and 1959/60, making him one of the few dual Nichols Medalists. Joe Bonson won an astounding six club best and fairest’s from 1957/58 to 1962/63 and was the Clubs leading goal kicker a remarkable three times in 1961/62, 1962/63 and 1964/65.
Joe Bonson also represented the NT in a game against the Mt Isa League select team ‘Mary Kathleen’ in 1961.
Joe Bonson was recognised as a true Tiger great in 1966 when he was awarded Life Membership. His lifetime contribution to NT football was also recognised when he was made an NTFL player Life Member in 1986 and inducted into the AFLNT Hall of Fame in 2010.
Joe Bonson retired in 1970 having played his 200th League match, the curtain finally closing on one of the Northern Territory’s great footballing careers. We welcome Joe Bonson, a genuine Nightcliff great, a man who gave his all for the Tigers season after season into the AFLNT Team of the Century.