Craig Coombes believes there’s nothing better than ticking off a bucket list item, whether you’re sick, or well.
The dedicated Newcastle Knights fan was on a high this week after he was granted a special wish, to sit in on a Knights training session.
Although considered a unique experience for any Knights supporter, the day meant a great deal for Craig who is terminally ill with cancer.
“It was a bucket list wish to see the Knights train,” he said,
“I’ve seen them play a couple of times, but not train.
“I’ve always wanted to do this, so I’m really happy.”
Craig first became involved with the Cub when he fulfilled a lifelong wish and met Knights’ legend, Andrew Johns at a Knights game in Melbourne last season.
People heard his story after the NRL Footy show covered Craig’s incredible passion for life and the Club.
Craig said he was blown away to meet his all-time favourite player and to have coach Wayne Bennett present him with a signed jersey.
“If it ended that day, I would have been happy,” he smiled.
“It was an amazing feeling.
“I had my son and friends with me and they said seeing the smile on my face was priceless.
“When I saw photos of the day, I thought the same thing.”
Craig said that very feeling came around again when his now mate, Andrew Johns, organised for him call in on Knights training in Newcastle.
Craig was treated to a personal tour through the Knights training facilities at Mayfield Wests with Danny Buderus and was invited to watch the team train before meeting the players.
“It’s a thrill," Craig added.
"This time last month, I’d never imagine sitting here.
“It was a bucket list item. I always thought there was no way of doing this.
“The accessibility is just amazing at this Club.
“It was really heart warming for me that a lot of the players remember me.
“I haven’t seen these guys since September last year so I was just blown away by the absolute niceness of these blokes.
“I get so much joy from watching them play and being here.
“I go to bed some nights, and I do shed a tear, but tonight I guarantee you, I’ll be smiling.”
Although Craig has lived in Melbourne for decades, he grew up in Newcastle, returned in school holidays and lived here for four years with his wife during the 80s.
“Newcastle is still a part of me. I consider it home,” he said.
Craig was joined at training by his cousin Tracey Mitchell who he describes as one of his closest relatives.
“The guys have been wonderful, they are all smiling and saying ‘how are you?’" Tracey said.
"It’s just been awesome. They are such a friendly bunch of blokes."
The trip to Newcastle was a challenge for Craig who decided to bite the bullet and drive himself up from Melbourne while he was feeling well enough.
A decision he says was well worth it.
“My philosophy is, don’t wait to do things, because you never know what’s going to happen," Craig said.
“So I have to live my own philosophy so I said to my wife and family, I’ve just got to do it.
“I really just want people not to just wait until something bad happens."
Craig looks forward to watching the Knights play the Raiders at Hunter Stadium and seeing the team perform well this season.