Newcastle Knights launch Hall of Fame

FLASHBACK: The Newcastle Knights celebrate winning the 1997 NRL premiership.
FLASHBACK: The Newcastle Knights celebrate winning the 1997 NRL premiership.

THE Newcastle Knights have kicked off their 25th anniversary celebrations at Ausgrid Stadium today by launching the club’s Hall of Fame.

Presented by the Newcastle Herald, the Knights Hall of Fame will welcome four inaugural inductees from a list comprising the 229 players who have represented the club in at least one first-grade game, and the seven coaches who have guided them, since the Knights joined what was then known as the NSW Rugby League premiership in 1988.

Herald readers will have the opportunity to nominate 10 players they consider most worthy of consideration for the Hall of Fame, and these votes will help formulate a list of 25 to be announced on Thursday, March 1 – the day the Knights kick off the NRL season against 2010 premiers St George Illawarra at Ausgrid Stadium.

From that list of 25, the Hall of Fame selection panel will compile a short list of 10 to be announced on Friday, March 16, when the Knights host the Broncos at Ausgrid Stadium.

The selection panel will then meet again to consider the final list of 10 and rate each player.

From those ratings, the four leading vote-getters will become the inaugural inductees to the Hall of Fame. They will be announced at a gala dinner at Wests Leagues Club in the week leading up to Newcastle’s round-six home game against Parramatta on the weekend of April 6-9.

The game against the Eels is significant because they were the first team the Knights played in the premiership proper in 1988.

On March 5 that year, in front of a crowd of 26,340 at what was then better known as Newcastle’s International Sports Centre, a Parramatta side including internationals Peter Sterling, Brett Kenny and Eric Grothe defeated the Knights 28-4.

The Hall of Fame selection panel comprises long-serving former chairman Michael Hill and fellow Knights founding father Leigh Maughan, foundation coaching director Allan Bell, Herald rugby league reporter Brett Keeble and NBN Television sports commentator Mike Rabbitt.

After the initial hall of fame intake, and on the recommendation of the selection panel, up to two players or coaches can be inducted into the Hall of Fame each year. These will be announced each year at the club’s season launch.

Players and coaches are not eligible to be inducted into the Hall of Fame until after they retire.

Readers can check the double-page selection form guide, which will appear in the Herald tomorrow, listing all 229 players and seven coaches and their respective playing and coaching records in games for the Knights.

For a full report on today’s launch, and for further details regarding the Hall of Fame and a competition in which readers can try to match the final short list of 10, make sure you get your copy of the Herald tomorrow.