SADLY there will be no grand final farewell at Cahill Oval today for Ian Bourke and Blake Mueller, the pair who have been instrumental in the success at Lakes United for many years.
Two of the most influential players at the club over the last decade, the pair will call it quits after today's final-round game against Kurri Kurri.
They came to the club from vastly different backgrounds, but both have had an incredible influence at the Seagulls.
Bourke, 30, moved to Newcastle from the Central West town of Cowra in 1996 at the age of 18 to play for the Knights.
After two years in the Jersey Flegg side he joined Lakes and has been with the club ever since.
He captained Lakes in 2000 at the tender age of 22, when they lost the grand final to Waratah-Mayfield.
The tenacious hooker got his revenge the following season when he led the team to grand final glory over Western Suburbs.
His crowning glory was to captain-coach Lakes to back-to-back grand final wins in 2006 and 2007 and, despite financial trouble and most players severing ties with the club, Bourke stayed for what was always going to be a tough 2008 season.
"I probably should have retired last year and gone out on a winning note," he said. "But that would have been the wrong thing to do by the club.
"I wanted to have one more year because I owed that to a great club that has been so good to me."
During his time at the club Bourke represented Newcastle several times, including the game against Great Britain in 2006 which he lists as a career highlight alongside his premiership wins.
Mueller, younger brother of former Knights back-rower Brock Mueller, is a local boy who started in the juniors at Belmont North and played in the 2000 grand final at the age of 18.
The rugged second-rower played 15 first-grade games for the Knights between 2003 and 2005 and is a fiercely loyal Novocastrian and Belmont boy.
"When I left the Knights my manager wanted me to explore options at other NRL clubs, but I don't have it in me," 26-year-old Mueller said. "It was the same when I came back from France to play in Newcastle it was always going to be at Lakes.
"I have never considered playing for other clubs because my heart would not be in it."
Mueller said injuries and a desire to travel had forced his premature retirement from the game.
"My ankles are no good, my knees are no good, my back is no good and my neck is not great," he laughed. "Over the last few years I've got into other things like travelling, and while I could probably keep playing, I don't want to play myself into the ground."
Mueller said there could be no more fitting farewell than celebrating with family, friends and the Lakes Old Boys after a win over Kurri.