Report: JEFF STEPHENSON

ADAM Boon will join an illustrious group to crack 150 games with the club when the Bombers clash with Sydney University at Scottsdale Park on Saturday.

That he’s about to achieve the milestone at age 28 would probably have surprised him a tad had you mentioned it to him all those years ago.

You see, Boony made his debut as a cocky, confident 16-year-old in 2007.

Back then there was no such thought of longevity, it was more a matter of getting out and playing and ticking each milestone as it rolled along.

He got to game 100 relatively quickly, but the progress since then has stalled somewhat due to every footballer’s curse – the dreaded injury run.

“It’s been a long time since I played my 100th – there’s been a few injuries since then.

“When I first started playing I thought these things would all rush along quickly and, being a 16-year-old, pretty easily.”

It hasn’t quite panned out that way.

Boony played just 10 games last year and Saturday’s outing will only be his sixth match this season.

Knee troubles, shoulder injuries, bunged-up ribs and operations on most of those vital areas have plagued him in recent times, so the 150-mark will arrive with a sense of relief as well as accomplishment.

Not that he dwells on individual milestones.

“They’re nice when they come along, but you don’t play for that reason.

“Ultimately, it’s all about the team and your teammates and winning premierships and sticking tight with the group.

“That’s the reason I play.”

Ask anyone at the club and they speak in volumes of Adam’s value to the team, his work ethic and his willingness to prick the conscience of teammates to work toward the ultimate – team success.

Well, how about we ask his mate, fellow Bomber and club games record-holder, Matt Thomson:

“Boony and I first met playing cricket together at Cleveland-Thornlands Cricket Club from when we were about eight or nine years of age.

“He didn’t start playing footy with me until about under 11s or 12s, I think, and then we won his and my only premiership in junior or senior footy a year or so later.

“He was very good at both sports and probably could have followed his uncle’s path with cricket, but decided he loved AFL and chose that instead.

“Boony is a competitive bloke and you always know what he’s going to give to you.

On and off the field he’s very similar in that he will always speak his mind and tell you things straight up without sugar coating anything.

“That’s probably the thing about him I respect the most.

“It doesn’t matter if he’s talking to a first-year player or whether its one of his best mates. If you’re not doing what you should be doing, he lets you know.”

Now, let’s get back to Boony.

He’s played with a host of stupendous Bombers’ over the years – Thomson, of course, present-day champ Tom Salter, the reliable Brad Rees and he enjoyed the inimitable Phil Carse as a teammate, when the present-day Camperdown coach strutted his considerable prowess at NEAFL level.

“Phil was a great mentor – he taught me a lot and he led the team well.”

Then there was Jeff White – the athletic ex-Melbourne ruckman, who made his imposing presence felt when he had a season with the Bombers earlier this decade.

“There are so many others.”

He didn’t wish to expand too much on opposition players except to say: “They’re all good players with different attributes.”

He did let slip that he held a lot of respect for two-time NEAFL MVP winner Matthew Payne.

“He’s a smart footballer – very hard-working”, he said of the Aspley co-captain.

“I’ve copped a lot of small forwards over the journey – you’ve always got to work flat out against them.”

Boony believes the present-day set-up at the club is the best it’s been in his 11-year career so far.

“Turtle (coach Leigh Harding) knows so much about the game and has presented us with a game plan that I think can lead us to success.

“We’re learning every game and there’s great belief in the list.

“I know our record this year is not great at 1–13, but there’s only been a couple of real blowouts and I reckon we’ve been in the hunt in at least 10 of those.

“We’ve got to be more consistent and go with the ebbs and flows and start playing out four quarters.

“The signs among the group are really positive.

“We’ve had some injuries that have hit us, but I reckon we can finish this year off well and make 2019 a really good season.”

That, in a nutshell, is representative of the confidence he brings to the group.

But, let’s get back to Thommo one more time:

“We have both been lucky to have played together for so long – around 15 years – and to have stayed so close off the field as well is special.

“He’s a bloke I can talk to when I need advice or if I’m having a tough time and is one of the few people I can trust 100 per cent.

“Behind all those loudmouth antics and annoying sprays, he’s a genuine bloke with his teammates and always has the club’s best interests at heart.

“We speak often about getting the chance to play in a premiership and after both starting our careers with regular 100-point losses it would really be an amazing achievement.

“To do so together would make it even sweeter.

“It’s a testament to his loyalty and commitment to get to 150 games as he’s missed many through injury and in recent times has had to battle multiple knee injuries that some other blokes our age may have just decided was enough.

“But he just puts his head down and gets it done.”

So, there you go.

Milestones may not be something at the top of his list, but when they come along such as this one they are well deserved.

The Park Ridge State High School teacher – it houses an AFL Excellence Academy and that sits well with him, too – is enjoying the moment.

They’ll be a few nerves as he runs out, but that will be taken in his stride as he produces all in his power to engineer a victory – not just as a personal thing for him – but one to be shared by the playing group.

When the time comes to hang up the boots, Boony will be looking for a coaching role and is learning the caper as we speak as assistant-coach of Queensland Under 12s.

Wherever the road leads, rest assured, when the time does come the team who has Adam Boon as a leader will be in very good hands.

Footnote: That cricketing uncle of his is NOT the pugnacious Tasmanian and Australian batsman David Boon. But it IS Ian Healey and he was a very handy conveyance indeed.

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