The history of the nib Newcastle Knights is kept alive by the many men who pulled on the red and blue jersey since the Club’s inaugural year in 1988.
Knights TV has tracked down some of the best through the years to see where they are now and what their lives look like after footy.
It has been three decades since Tony Townsend played his first game for the Newcastle Knights but the memories of that inaugural team are still vivid.
“It was 30 years ago but it doesn’t seem like 30 years and they were special times,” Tony reminisced.
“I came up from St George (Illawarra Dragons) and other people were local, some were country and I think we were all in the same boat.
“It created a really good culture at the start, particularly with Alan McMahon, Alan Bell and the other coaches, David Waite and Robert Finch.
“It was a great culture… a very exciting time for the town, it had great support and I can look back on some great memories.”
The foundation Knights hooker was seen as a force on the football field and not much in his mentality has changed after footy as he continues to serve the local community as one of the region’s men in blue.
A Dungog lad, Tony started his football career in 1985 with the St George Illawarra Dragons but got the chance to move back home to play for the Newcastle Knights in 1988 and become one of the players to help lay the foundations of a Knights legacy.
Back then, Tony juggled playing football and working for the NSW Police Force but ‘that’s what they did back then’.
“When I first played for St George, it was after night shift and that’s what you used to do,” he said.
“You worked and you played footy on the weekends but it has changed now and it’s all professional.
“I’ve been in the police well over 30 years now and there’s a lot of similarities about policing and playing football because it is a real team environment.
“It is a bit edgy, you don’t know what will happen next but it has been a great career.”
A great career indeed, now known as one of the Hunter’s top cops.
His hard work and dedication has led him to become the Port Stephens local area Commander and he is currently filling in as Acting Commander for the Lake Macquarie local area command.
But while he’s maintained a busy life since his time as a Knight, his passion and support for his former team has not wavered.
“I have maintained my Membership, we’ve still got tickets and I go to the games with my family,” smiled Tony.
“I have been involved in the Old Boys committee to try and maintain that commitment to the Club.
“A lot of people that have come to the Club, have actually stayed in the area and continue to support the team.
“The main thing for us and the culture of the Club is about having a go and giving it your all.”
While Tony admits the Club has been through some tough times, he has no doubt things are looking up and is anticipating a successful 2018 season.
“We have got some really promising players,” explained Tony.
“I think they were a bit unlucky in terms of the results this year, it could have gone a different way and I don’t think their position on the table reflected the way they played.
“It looks like Nathan Brown is building a really good culture at the Club and I’m really excited about next year.
“We are still maintaining great support despite the position on the table and fans have really embraced their football team which is an important part of their culture.”