Fifteen names synonymous with Territory football as well as the 1988 Northern Territory Bicentennial Carnival team have tonight had their names etched in the history books as the latest lot of AFL Northern Territory (AFLNT) Hall of Fame inductees.
Presented by Thrifty Car Rental Darwin, more than 350 people descended on the Mindil Beach Casino and Resort in style on a typically balmy night in the Top End.
From the saltwater seas of the Tiwi Islands to the desert football heartland of Central Australia, the latest lot of inductees join their names to the 50 others who have previously been bestowed with Hall of Fame honours.
For the first time since the inaugural event in 2010, the 'Media' and 'Team' categories each acquired a name.
In all, there were 11 'Players' recognised with records that spanned NT representative football as well as the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL), Central Australian Football League (CAFL), South Australian National Football League (SANFL), Victorian Football Association/League (VFA/VFL) and West Australian Football League (WAFL).
Amongst them are four Nichols Medal winners; the highest individual accolade awarded to a player in the NTFL, with two of those also picking up AFLNT Team of the Century honours in 2016 and Chaney Medals during their careers. The medal is given to the best on the ground in the NTFL men's grand final, of which a total of three players in the list of 15 have received.
Four players who reached further, a career in the AFL, were also bequeathed with the additional status of 'Legend'.
William "Ninny" Briston - Player - A multi NT representative player, he started as a standout junior player before making his Premier League debut with the Darwin Buffaloes in 1980. A 1983/84 Nichols Medallist and dual club best and fairest winner, he played in six grand finals and captained the side to the 1988/89 flag. A very worthy recipient of Darwin Buffaloes Team of the Century recognition.
Alwyn "Froggy" Davey - Player (Legend) - As a teenager, he was a member of the 2000/01 and 2001/02 NTFL premiership teams with the Palmerston Magpies. He played as an NT representative before being drafted to Essendon in the AFL. After 100 games and the AFL Army Award in 2007, he retired and returned to Darwin.
Aaron "Flash" Davey - Player (Legend) - An NT representative player at a young age, he tasted the ultimate NTFL success in 2001/02, winning a premiership with the Palmerston Magpies. After stints in the SANFL and VFL, he was drafted to the Melbourne Football Club as a rookie and went on to play 178 games, collecting the 2009 Keith "Bluey" Truscott Medal.
Michael Graham - Player - In his first season, Graham won the 1973/64 Nichols Medal along with the St Mary's Football Club Best and Fairest. A three-time premiership winner with St Mary's and the 1978/79 Chaney Medallist who also had an illustrious career in the SANFL. A member of the AFLNT Team of the Century.
Edmund Johnson - Player - Often rated as one of the best football products from the Tiwi Islands, he was a foundation player with the St Mary's Football Club in the NTFL. A playing journey of 16 years included six premierships, NTFL representative duties and the honour of having the best backman award in the Tiwi Islands Football League named after him.
Terry Lew Fatt - Player and Coach - Was a member of the first senior NTFL premiership won by St Mary's in 1954/55 and had an incredible 17-year career that included seven premierships. Received the Nichols Medal in 1958/59, won three club best and fairest medals and coached the NTFL representative side on three occasions.
Cyril Rioli Jnr - Player - Originally from Garden Point on Melville Island, he played in 12 NTFL premierships between 1983/84 and 2003/04, earning the Chaney Medal in 1990/91. He was also the Nichols Medallist in 1995/96, a St Mary's best and fairest twice and an eight-time representative for the NT. He was recognised with Team of the Century honours in 2016.
Brian Stanislaus - Player - An eight-time NTFL premiership player with St Mary's he won two club best and fairest, was club captain for two seasons and picked up the club leading goalkicker award six-times, three of them as NTFL leading goalkicker also. He went on to represent the NTFL on 14 occasions against AFL and state league clubs.
Mathew Stokes - Player (Legend) - A regular underage NT representative player, he earned selection to the Australian Institute of Sport in 2000 before being part of the 2000/01 Palmerston Magpies NTFL premiership. After joining the SANFL, he was drafted by the Geelong Cats and made his debut in 2006 before winning the AFL's ultimate prize, a premiership, twice; in 2007 and 2011. He finished his elite career with 200 games.
Benny Vigona - Player - Hailing from Pularumpi on Melville Island he was part of two St Mary's premierships and collected the Chaney Medal in the 1977/78 season, it was the same season he won his second consecutive club best and fairest. Represented the NT before playing WAFL and serving WA and the Aboriginal All Stars.
Matthew Whelan - Player (Legend) - An NT representative player from a young age, he made his NTFL senior debut in 1996/97 before making his way to the SANFL and on to the Melbourne Football Club, where he enjoyed 10 years and 150 games. A Darwin Buffaloes Team of the Century recipient.
In addition to the players, three more 'Coach' and 'Administrator' inductees were duly recognised for their outstanding contribution to Australian Football in the NT:
Roy Arbon - Coach - A name synonymous with Alice Springs football he also enjoyed 13 years across three different clubs in the NTFL before becoming a stalwart of the Pioneer Football Club in the CAFL. He won multiple premierships as a player and a coach, and also played and coached CAFL representative teams before using his skills with the NT Thunder Academy.
Peter Atkinson - Coach and Administrator - More than 40 years involvement as a player, umpire, coach and administrator for both local NT and national level. He helped coach St Mary's sides to 11 grand finals over 10 years and has been involved with NT representative sides since 1974; including being the first co-team manager of the NT Thunder team.
Ray Norman AO - Coach and Administrator - Was one of the first people to become active in football development in remote regions and went on to lead the establishment of the Cazlays Palmerston club. His various roles in government also led to the establishment and maintenance protocols of TIO Stadium. In addition to his work duties, he was an invested coach at Wanderers Football Club before becoming president of the club and later a board member and president of the NTFL.
And without hesitation, the 2019 AFLNT Hall of Fame Committee, led by Chairman Bryan Moroney recommended its first 'Media' inductee go to a voice and man that has become synonymous with Territory footy:
Charlie King OAM - Media - In an effort that spans more than 25 games and well over 600 games of commentating, he began at Gardens Oval in 1996 and continues his calls today. A short playing career in the NTFL was backed up by over 100 games of umpiring juniors and a passion for women's footy, well before it became popular; he coached the first NT women's team at the 2000 and 2002 Nationals.
The last recognition of the night was kept for Territory sport's finest hour, a powerful retelling of the 1988 David versus Goliath moment took place when the inaugural 'Team' induction was handed to the Bicentennial Carnival team.
A total of 37 players, coaches and support staff combined 31 years ago to drive the Northern Territory through three undefeated pool matches before claiming the Second Division Championship.
Led by champion coach John Taylor, and captained by a great skipper in Maurice Rioli, the group proved the universal truth of that oldest of sporting adages – that a champion team will always beat a team of champions. And many believe that the NT team would've disposed of the South Australia, the First Division winners.
A moment unrivalled in NT sporting history was the most fitting way to end NT footy's night of nights.