Robert Dillon: Seven Days in League

THURSDAY

JUST when all appears lost for the Newcastle Knights, a pinprick of light emerges at the end of a dark and seemingly endless tunnel.

Still wallowing in self-pity after last week's hammering from the Tigers in the battle of the cesspit, Knights fans erupt with a collective, euphoric cheer after news breaks in Sydney that a police investigation has allegedly uncovered evidence of salary-cap rorting.

True, the cops have actually spent thousands of man hours and millions of taxpayers' dollars trying to nail some match-fixers and appear to be clutching at straws to justify the whole circus. But let's not quibble over semantics. If this sticks, some dirty, rotten cheating mongrels will lose competition points.

And best of all, the alleged culprits are Manly, for so many years Newcastle's arch-enemies ... at least until they decided the Knights were beneath their contempt.

Surely the NRL will realise there is no point giving them a 12-point slap on the wrist, as was the case with Parramatta last season.

This calls for a full-speed flying kung fu kick up the date, along the lines of what Melbourne Storm copped back in 2010 ... ie no matter how many games they win, the rorters end up with zero points.

That's justice. That's fair. Suck that up, Silvertails.

Innocent until proven guilty? Pig’s arse.

It's time to strip Manly of every point they have earned (or will earn) this year and save Newcastle from the embarrassment of a third consecutive wooden spoon. 

How good would that be? Even better than towelling them up in the '97 grand final, I reckon.

FRIDAY

I AM delighted to read Donna Page's report today that reveals residents of the Hunter have gambled more than $6.6 billion on the pokies in a 12-month period.

It makes me proud to realise that, pound for pound, dollar for dollar, this community can match any other region in the world when it comes to brainlessly flushing our hard-earned down the S-bend.

Of all the thousands of pokie-addicted zombies out there, it would be nice to think a large proportion of them regularly frequent the establishments owed by the Wests Group.

Pretty soon, by all accounts, the Wests Group will be taking over Newcastle’s NRL franchise, so the more rent money that punters pump through their pokies, the more, theoretically, will filter back to the Knights.

I'd like to think that, in time, the once-impoverished Knights will be so cashed up they'll be in a position to buy a feeder team, such as, for example, Melbourne Storm or Brisbane Broncos.

(Please gamble responsibly, of course.)

LIFEBLOOD: Any hopes of a Newcastle Knights resurrection could soon hinge on the region's pokie players.

LIFEBLOOD: Any hopes of a Newcastle Knights resurrection could soon hinge on the region's pokie players.

Meanwhile, I'm a tad concerned when I see Newcastle's new signing, Aidan Guerra, score a try as the Chooks down the Bunnies 14-12.

The obvious worry is that every "meat pie" he scores for the Rooters is one less he will score for the Knights.

SATURDAY

I RAISE an eyebrow as Nate Myles runs out on debut for his fifth NRL club, Melbourne Storm, against Parramatta.

It's not just that Myles has lived such a nomadic, transient existence he apparently regards hotel corridors as public toilets.

It's more the question of how the Storm belatedly squeeze a Queensland and Test forward (plus former Knight/Bunny Robbie Rochow) under their 2017 salary cap.

I guess it's just further proof that players will accept "unders" to play for successful clubs. Although some may say there is evidence that theory has been disproven in the past.

SUNDAY

AFTER a long, lonely drive, I arrive at the field behind Belmore Sports Ground, where I expect to find a car park.

The gate is locked as a security guard approaches me. "We're full, mate,'' she says.

I explain that I have reserved a park and should be on the official list the club has given her.

"Maayyte,'' she says. "This is a club in turmoil."

"You guys are in turmoil?" I reply incredulously. "What about the Knights? They're about to cop a third straight wooden spoon."

"Does that Tinkler bloke still own them?" she asks.

The whole conversation is a bit surreal ... but I guess she has a fair point.

I mean, what's the definition of turmoil? Tinks was a debacle but at least the Knights (somehow) didn't finish last during his tenure.

Anyway, I reckon we've got her covered. After their miracle 20-18 win today, the Doggies are neither last nor broke.

In saying that, I've never had to park two miles away and walk to McDonald Jones Stadium.

MONDAY

BROCK Lamb is destined to be a sub-editor's favourite for many years to come.

After a 38-0 loss to the Chooks on his NRL debut last year, the headline read: "Lamb to the slaughter."

When he was dropped to Reggies a fortnight ago, it was: "Lamb chopped".

After his unfortunate last-minute penalty attempt against the Dogs, he cops: "Lamb's shank."

Fortunately his teammates - and most fans on social media - are sticking solidly behind young Brock.

He's no doubt doing it tough. Last thing he needs is a lambasting.

TUESDAY

OK, different code, but anyway … I note with interest former Manchester United star Wayne Rooney discussing his decision to rejoin Everton, the club where his illustrious career kicked off.

Roon reveals that for the past 15 years, he has been wearing Everton pyjamas. 

I don’t suppose there is any chance a few former Newcastle juniors – say, for instance, Boyd Cordner, Josh Jackson, Latrell Mitchell and Kerrod Holland –  are still kicking around in Knights PJs?

WEDNESDAY

HERE we are, the morning of the biggest Origin game of all time, and the Sydney Morning Herald find room for an Arsenal story on their back page. God bless ’em.

Ooh to, ooh to be, ooh to be a Gooner.