The 20th anniversary of the Newcastle Knights 1997 grand final triumph should be marked with a mural

It’s 20 years this year since the Newcastle Knights won their first grand final.

The anniversary falls on September 28. That was the famous day in the Hunter’s history when the Knights beat Manly 22-16 to claim their first premiership.

As fans will remember, Robbie O'Davis scored two tries and Darren Albert crossed the line to secure the match-winning try in the dying moments.

Andrew Johns kicked five goals that day.

The Knights came to mind as we read a story in the Guardian on Friday about Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona.

The story, along with a short film titled How A Player Became A God, marked 30 years since Maradona secured a first title for Italian soccer club Napoli.

“People live for football everywhere, but in Naples it’s like nowhere else,” one fan said in the film.

Maradona’s legacy lives on in Naples through murals and posters around the city.

“Many shops have a patron saint to protect themselves – an image of Diego Maradona,” the story said.

A mural of Diego Maradona in Naples, marking his time as a Napoli player.

A mural of Diego Maradona in Naples, marking his time as a Napoli player.

This got us thinking. Why aren’t there any murals in Newcastle or elsewhere in the Hunter marking the Knights’ 97 triumph and/or the legend of Joey Johns?

Perhaps there is one, but we can’t think of any.

We checked in with the group that organises the murals in Kurri Kurri. It confirmed that Andrew Johns didn’t feature in any of those murals.

This is despite the fact he grew up in the Cessnock area, which apparently included a spell in Kurri.

Does the lack of a Johns mural have anything to do with the fact that he hasn’t exactly covered himself in glory off the field? But, then, neither has Maradona.

When Maradona played for Napoli, he was considered the best player in the world. The same was said of Johns at the Knights.

Footy fans in Newcastle might not be as fanatical as soccer fans in Italy. Nevertheless, Topics reckons there should be a mural to mark the 20th anniversary of the Knights ‘97 triumph.

At least when fans see it, they’ll remember what was possible. And it might help them get through the dark days the club is living through.

Taking A Toll

The former Victoria bridge over Wallis Creek. The bridge was built in 1852.

The former Victoria bridge over Wallis Creek. The bridge was built in 1852.

No one likes to pay a toll to cross a bridge. This was true back in 1817, it’s true now and it’ll probably be true in the year 2217.

But for now, let’s focus on the 1800s. Holly McNamee, secretary of Friends of Grossmann House, said controversy surrounded the Wallis Creek bridge in the early 1800s.

Many had to cross the “steep and deep Wallis Creek” to get to Maitland, Holly said.

“Alexander McLeod built a toll bridge across the creek in 1827.”

McLeod called it the “Family Bridge”.

“Numerous people crossed the river for free by using a fallen tree nearby, until McLeod had it removed,” Holly added.

“After many disputes and court appearances for refusal to pay the toll, the government took it over in 1834.”

The government then built the Victoria bridge over the creek in 1852.

Find out more in a heritage walk on Tuesday at 3.30pm that will raise money for the historic Grossmann and Brough houses in Maitland. The walk costs $25 or $20 for National Trust members.

Phone 4934-4314 to book.

Big Cats

A mountain lion.

A mountain lion.

Last week we told a story of a mountain lion, which Judith Cousins spotted at Jewells Wetland in Lake Macquarie in 1980. Nicholas Stephens responded on Facebook: “My grandfather had a small acreage in Jewells and has always told a story about a mountain lion harassing his dog”.