The Newcastle Knights have a long and proud history and one man has been through it all.
80-year-old Neville Allan has been around since the club’s inception and dedicated an impressive 32 years… the longest ever service at the Knights.
It’s an achievement the octogenarian is undeniably proud of.
“I enjoy doing it, my health is ok and I’m still firing on all cylinders at the moment,” he said.
“While these people want me to keep doing it, I’ll keep doing it.”
HE LOVED FOOTBALL.... JUST NOT LEAGUE AT FIRST
Not always a league supporter, Nev’s first love was actually Aussie rules.
As a younger lad, he played for Newcastle City as a ruck rover and in the forward pocket.
And true to his NSW roots, he barracks for the Sydney Swans.
It wasn’t until years later, after his son became interested in playing league, did Nev get his first taste of league.
“One year my son didn’t have a coach, so I put my hand up,” laughed Nev.
“I brought a coaching book, coached for a couple of years before I started to manage teams.”
A VERY BUSY MAN
In 1965 the father of two worked for Shortland county council as a linesman, but also threw himself into a number of managerial roles for Newcastle’s local league.
He managed junior sides at Central Charlestown from the U11s to the U19s and later for South Newcastle.
Good at what he did, in 1978 he was enlisted to manage a number of junior rep sides including Harold Matthews and Newcastle rep, and the country U19s.
HIS START AT THE KNIGHTS
Finally, in 1988, Nev kicked off what was to be a long relationship with the red and blue.
“The Knights called me up and asked me if I wanted to be a manager of the Jersey Flegg side because I was managing the country side at the time,” he said.
The grandfather of five was the U20s right hand man for five years and part of two premierships.
He also managed the Knights U21s before being put on the club’s books in charge of maintenance at Marathon stadium.
He admits those 30 years involved in league were some of the best of his life.
HELPING TO NURTURE SOME OF THE GAMES GREATS
“Andrew Johns, he’s my boy,” smiled Nev.
“I knew Andrew way back when he was 14 years of age and he never walks past me now without saying g’day.
“I also used to bring Matthew Johns down to training and when he was 18, he signed on the dotted line with the Knights.
“When I brought him home from training, my wife walked out and gave him a big kiss to congratulate him, and I have never seen a young bloke go so red.”
Nev has also worked alongside some of the NRL’s best coaches including Trent Robinson, Rick Stone, Michael Hagan and Dean Pay.
“Trent and I have a really good relationship,” he said.
“I wanted to call him to congratulate him for winning in England at the World Cup Challenge.
“Trent came to the Knights as a coach, he played with Parramatta when we beat them in 2001.
“Dean was also my front rower in the country side in 1987.”
IMPORTANT ROLES AND PROUD DAYS
In 1995 Nev took on the role of Knights gear steward, which he has to this day.
“I collect the gear for the players, check to make sure it’s all there and distribute out to the players in different teams from Harold Matthews through to first grade,” Nev explained.
He managed reserve grade and NYC for almost ten years and took over as stadium manager in 2009 until he retired in 2011, although still volunteering as gear steward.
Without a doubt, one of his fondest memories was the 2001 grand final…. A day he’ll never forget.
“I was down in Sydney and I said to Gary Callaghan, we’re going to win this,” Nev grinned.
“In the dressing shed after the game, there is a photo of us somewhere, sitting drinking a can of Tooheys with our premier’s shirt on.
HOW THINGS HAVE CHANGED
“These days you don’t see anyone having a beer in the dressing sheds now,” he joked.
“It has got very scientific, they’ve got dieticians; we had never heard of dieticians back in the day.
“Sizzler was a sponsor and all the families used to come in and eat there.”
A LITTLE HELP ALONG THE WAY
The Knights stalwart has dedicated his life, heart and soul to the game and more closely the Knights.
But the 80-year-old admits he couldn’t have done it without the help of one important person.
His wife of more than 60 years, Bev, because behind every good man is an even better woman.
“I couldn’t have done it without her.” He smiled.
“She used to help me pack away equipment delivered to our house late at night, welcome them with a cup of tea and a biscuit.”
THE GAME COMRADERY
These days Nev can’t go anywhere without being stopped for a yarn.
It's thanks to his years of service to the game, both locally and for the Knights.
“I just enjoy being involved in the club, the juniors are especially special to me,” Nev added.
“The young boys, they have all the respect for you, even when they play at the local club, they acknowledge you.”
Still now, he continues to make friends on a regular basis.
“It’s good to see Mitchell Pearce and Dave Klemmer, they all walk up and say hey mate,” he said.
“Today Mitchell just tapped me on the shoulder and shook my hand, so they appreciate you which is all you want.”