This history of the nib Newcastle Knights is kept alive by the many men who have 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.
Representative prop Matt Parsons played 106 games for the Knights and was part of the historic 2001 premiership winning team.
Now living in Werris Creek near Tamworth, Matt is still a devoted red and blues fan and although 14 years have passed since he hung up the boots on his NRL career with the Club, there’s still fond memories he’ll never shake.
“I finished in 2004 but my memories are pretty strong considering I went to Newcastle from South (Sydney Rabbitohs) and we were battling at that stage,” Matt said.
“We were able to win more games than we lost at Newcastle which was a good difference for me.
“In 2000, we had a really good team and blew the semi-final, but to be able to come back in 2001 and win the grand final made up for it.”
Lucky for Matt, he only worked and played in the early days of his professional football career but coming from a hard-working family, getting back into the workforce was never really a problem.
“When I finished footy, I was working for Carlton United Breweries in Newcastle before I got a job up here in Tamworth,” Matt explained.
“At that job I was away a lot, so I gave it away and went into my own businesses.
“I’ve got a dairy farmers run, a franchise with my wife at our property, and I’m in the Newsagency with my in-laws, so I’m pretty busy.
“I grew up working all the time and only had a few years out of it while I was playing footy, so I was able to go back into work without too many issues.”
The former Knight believes it’s important to have the right mentality when you finally decide to retire from the game.
“When you’re ready to get out, you need to be able to get up out of bed every morning and go to work, and work full days,” he added.
“I think the guys get into trouble who want their money easy and don’t realise you’ve got to work hard, even when you finish footy, so you need to have that work ethic behind you.
“I came from a hard-working, salt-of-the-earth background where my dad was a shearer and my mum worked for Telstra so I just had that bred into me.”
While he may not be in Knights heartland near Tamworth, Matt admits there’s still a lot of country fans nearby who follow Newcastle in the NRL.
“A lot of country people have their favourites and even their second teams as Newcastle because they can associate with Newcastle being a blue-collar sort of town,” Matt maintained.
“I watch the Knights play every week so I share all the fans frustrations at times.
“I’ve got three boys who follow the Knights as well so we’re still pretty keen on the team from up here.”
And while the Club has struggled to perform in the last three years, Matt is certain significant improvement is on the way for 2018.
“Things look like they’re definitely on the improve but we do have to take into account that we have won three wooden spoons in a row,” he said.
“The guys look to have recruited well and we’re moving along the right lines.
“I don’t think anyone’s lost a lot of faith in the last few years, but I think like everyone else, we’re all looking for a bit of improvement.
“Let’s win more games and go from there.”