I still cant believe that 2012 rugby league season has been run and won! It doesn't seem all that long ago I was at the first National Rugby League (NRL) match of the season, played at the Hunter Stadium on Thursday 1st March to see the Newcastle Knights lose in a Golden Point shoot out to the St George Illawarra Dragons.
So it looks as though my weekends will once again seem hollow without watching 'The Greatest Game of All' every weekend and my summer days will be spent counting down the days towards the first trial matches in February.
So lets take a quick recap on my 'season on the sidelines';
10 x Newcastle Knights NRL home matches. I missed only two home game this year, the Round 8 win against the Penrith Panthers and the Round 10 loss to the North Queensland Cowboys. The low point on the Knights season came with the Round 12 loss to the Gold Coast Titans (14 -24) and the high point was the Round 19 win against the Manly Sea Eagles (32 - 6). Overall the season was a bummer with the Knights only winning 10 from 24 matches and finishing a disappointing 12th on the ladder.
3 x Newcastle Knights NSW Cup home matches. The NSW Cup is the official Reserve Grade fixture for the NRL. The Knights won all three of the matches I attended, the wins were against the Auckland Vulcans, the Windsor Wolves and the Canterbury Bulldogs. All these matches were played at Townson Oval Merewether, which would have to be one of the coldest places in Australia to watch rugby league .... brrrr!
1 x Finals Week Two match. My son and I went down to ANZ Stadium at Homebush to watch the Canberra Raiders lose to the South Sydney Rabbitohs 38 - 16. Although I do live in Newcastle and I have season tickets to the Knights, my heart is still with the Raiders who I have supported since 1983.
1 x Newcastle Rugby League Grand Final. I had a great day watching the West Newcastle Rosellas have a gutsy win against the Cessnock Goannas at Newcastle's No.1 Sportsground. I was only going for the Rosellas because their club, situated at New Lambton, has a great bistro and puts on great entertainment. Mum is a Cessnock girl so I should have gone for the Goannas, however the club at Wests is closer!
Some other highlights of the season were taking my 6 year old grand-daughter to her first rugby league game, the NSW Cup match between the Knights and the Vulcans and also taking my father to the same match. So including my son as well, who also attended, we had four generations attending the same match! Another highlight, was also sitting in the same seats all season at Hunter Stadium, freezing our bums off, catching up with Footy Bob and his family, living out the sporting highs and lows in a tribal atmosphere, with either my son or my wife at my side.
All in all it was a great year.
To me the game I follow is not about wins or losses (however I do prefer the wins), it's about getting out in the community, bonding with strangers who support the same team and building great memories to look back on in years to come.
Oh and by the way, when going to the footy, always take your camera, even a 'point & shoot' can capture the excitement of the day!