The Newcastle Herald was used as shin pads in a women's footy game in 1972

Girl Power: The West Rosettes played against Leichhardt Wildcats in 1972.
Girl Power: The West Rosettes played against Leichhardt Wildcats in 1972.

We’ve all heard about newspapers being used to wrap fish and chips.

Despite this, Topics was surprised to learn that the Newcastle Herald was used as shin pads during a women’s rugby league game in 1972.

Helen Davies knows the story because she was the one wearing the shin pads.

“My husband put newspaper in the front of my socks, so I wouldn’t get bruised,” Helen, now in her mid 70s, said.

Helen was playing for the West Rosettes against Leichhardt Wildcats in a match at Kentish Oval in Lambton.

“They did work well,” Helen said, of the Herald shin pads.

“We only had sandshoes on, but the team from Sydney had proper footy boots.”

Lambton’s Phil Mahoney, who was coach, told Topics a couple of weeks ago that “it was the toughest game I’ve ever seen”.

“One of the Wildcats grabbed one of our girls by the ponytail, as she raced for the try line,” Phil said.

The next time this ponytail puller ran with the ball, two Rosettes “got this woman in a sandwich tackle and flattened her”.

Helen, who played hooker, recalled that she was one of the tacklers.

“From what I can remember, we thought it would be a touch football game. We could see they were serious. It ended up being full-on tackles.”

Helen enjoyed the one-off match, saying “it was fabulous, I could have kept going”.

“I remember after the game we were going to grab the coach and throw him in the mud, but he ended up throwing me in the mud instead.”

Helen’s son Jeff Davies was about six or seven at the time.

“I can remember the game being very tough with lots of laughs from the crowd, but not many in the middle,” Jeff said.

“I still tell everyone my mum was hooker for Wests.” 

As it turns out, footy runs in the family.

Helen’s granddaughter Layne Morgan won a gold medal last month, playing rugby sevens for Australia in the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas.

Newcastle’s Greatest Win?

The Newcastle team that beat Parramatta 14-7 in the State Cup Final in 1964.

The Newcastle team that beat Parramatta 14-7 in the State Cup Final in 1964.

Speaking of footy history, former NBN sports presenter Mike Rabbit came across a photo in a Wallsend shop window of “arguably Newcastle’s greatest win”.

Mike stumbled across the photo while on the campaign trail. He’s running for Newcastle City Council as an independent.

It was a photo of the Newcastle team that beat Parramatta 14-7 in the State Cup Final on August 29, 1964.

“In the photo is John McLaughlin, now on the Wests’ board,” Mike said.

On the road to the final, Newcastle beat South Sydney, North Sydney and St George (who that year won their ninth of a record 11 straight premierships).

Nathan Brown’s Gesture

Nathan Brown and the Dudley-Redhead under 10, division three side.

Nathan Brown and the Dudley-Redhead under 10, division three side.

Topics feels for the Dudley-Redhead under 10s rugby league division three side, who face a tough game on Saturday.

“We played a semi-final last week, but we lost. We get a second chance this week,” coach Dean Campbell said. 

But with a couple of players away on holiday and an injury, the team will only be able to field nine players, instead of 11. Under the rules, no fill-ins are allowed.

The coach, players and parents considered forfeiting, but decided to go ahead.

At training at Dudley Oval on Wednesday, the boys were a bit dejected.

A chance meeting with Knights coach Nathan Brown lifted their spirits. Nathan gave the boys a bit of a motivational speech.

“He gave them a great pick-up,” Dean said.

He shook all the boys’ hands, got some photos and wished us the best. It was a brilliant gesture.”