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My boy Tom – Terry De Koning tells

De Koning's debut revealed Coach Brendon Bolton unveils Tom De Koning as the Blues' newest debutant in a team meeting.
I can’t speak more highly of Tom’s entire experience at Carlton on every level. He’s so happy and grateful to be there.
Terry De Koning

SEEN pacing the concourse at Etihad Stadium last Sunday afternoon was Terry De Koning, the 31-game former Footscray ruckman and proud father of Carlton’s 1199th and latest senior League footballer Tom.

In the aftermath of Tom’s impressive debut, which began with the composed grab and centred kick to Charlie Curnow for Carlton’s converted opening goal, Terry himself was finally able to compose himself and reflect. 

“There’s more anxiety producing than playing I think,” suggested Terry of nervously following his boy’s recent progression from the ranks of the Northern Blues to the big time at Carlton.

“I struggle to sit, I tend to go for a bit of a walk and when Tom goes up in the ruck I get up on my toes.

“But Sunday was a relief . . . and every time Tom’s been faced with a challenge he’s just come up trumps. He seems to stand up pretty well.”

The moment in which Tom’s name was called by Brendon Bolton in the presence of his teammates at a meeting prior to the Bulldogs match went bonkers on the Blues’ social networks – and Terry was not untouched.

“Tom’s mum and I both shed a little tear,” Terry said, “and when we went in for the jumper presentation on the Saturday morning it was even more moving. The players actually applauded Jackie and it was overwhelming, to the point that I had to motion with my hands ‘Okay, that’s enough’.

“I can’t speak more highly of Tom’s entire experience at Carlton on every level. He’s so happy and grateful to be there, he feels very valued at the Club, and that honesty he showed in the video was amazing.”

Two proud parents: Tom De Koning with mum Jackie and father Terry. (Photo: Supplied)

As Footscray’s 700th senior League footballer whose three seasons at ‘The Kennel’ played out under the watch of the then coach Royce Hart, Terry has drawn on his League experiences in his mentoring role to both Tom and younger son Sam, who is also progressing steadily with his footy and will be eligible for selection in next year’s national draft.

“I was very proud of what Tom said about me in a recent interview. I’ve tried to keep things pretty simple with the kids that I’ve coached (and I’ve got older kids as well) - it’s about simple structures and basic messages,” Terry said.

Reflecting on Tom’s junior years, Terry conceded that his boy was always going to be a ruckman . . . “so he knew early days how to take advantage of opponents and win”.

“A fault of mine if I’m going to enter the confessional is that I struggled to play Tom anywhere but ruck because my imagination wasn’t too good, and often when he played forward the ball didn’t get down there because he wasn’t playing ruck,” Terry said.

“In retrospect I probably should have played him key back to give him more of a sense of the game and Sam’s been luckier because he’s been given the chance to play in all positions. But I never talked to Tom in negatives, I instead talked to him about what areas of his game he thought he could change, and I tended to sit back rather than stand up.”

Jessie, Tom, Lauren and Zoe De Koning post-match on Sunday. (Photo: Supplied)

Does Terry see himself in his boys when they play?

“Funny thing, Sam’s played seniors for Mornington whose players wear Footscray colours, and the first time he ran out I just had this funny feeling,” came the reply. “He had the headband, I had the headband and he looks more like me than Tom does, so for a moment I thought I was looking at myself.”

As for the fact that Tom turned out for the first time against the Bulldogs, Terry was quick to point out that his allegiances were not particularly torn, as he himself supported Carlton as a kid – a throwback to the late 1960s when he followed his late father Martin on in his delivery runs.

“Now this is a good story,” Terry explained. “My father, who’s passed away sadly, was mad Carlton. He had a trucking company which delivered groceries to Sergio Silvagni’s shop. In the holidays I used to follow Dad around on his runs and I used to love going into Serge’s because he’d always say ‘Go and get yourself a can of drink young fella’ - and Dad used to say to me ‘Serge must have liked you because he was always tight’.”

To think that 50 years on, Terry and seven of his nine children were there when Tom took to the field alongside Sergio’s grandson in the old dark Navy Blue.