It was the 1988 pre-season.
The newly admitted Newcastle Knights had set up a date with Manly in the Herald Challenge Cup, who were coming fresh off a premiership-winning season with a side that featured names such as Vautin, Lyons, Hasler, Cleal and O’Connor.
The Knights, meanwhile, had a youthful team of players who didn’t have a whole lot of first grade experience among them.
One of them was a former Dragon with just nine games under his belt named Marc Glanville, who joined the Knights not long earlier after deciding Sydney wasn’t for him.
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“In 88 there were three new clubs coming in, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Newcastle, so there was a fair bit of interest from those three clubs,” Glanville told the Our Town Our Team Podcast.
“At the time Sydney was great but as a bloke from the bush out at Wagga, I preferred a smaller town.
“I had a call from David Waite, who coached me in the Australian Schoolboys and was going to be the reserve grade coach at Newcastle, he rang me and said the Knights were interested.”
The decision was not an easy one for a young Glanville, with plenty if clubs seeing his potential.
“I also met with the Gold Coast and was pretty close to signing with them, and then when I met with Macca (Head Coach Allan McMahon) and Waitey (Reserve Grade Coach David Waite) they asked if I’d go up there and have a look,” he said.
“I thought it wasn’t much of a place, but when I went up with the old man and had a look around and saw how good it was, it made the decision easy.”
It turned out to be the right call, with Glanville rewarded with 188 first grade games and a premiership, however the youthful Knights roster saw them struggle in their early years.
It was a fact not lost on Glanville when he signed, despite the team bonding together well.
“Macca and Waity and Allan Bell got everyone in together and trained together, and built that comradery around each-other, but I was still a bit unsure whether or not I’d made the right decision because I just wasn’t sure how we’d go,” Glanville said.
Which brings us to the Herald Challenge Cup, which pitted the Knights up against reigning premiers the Sea Eagles.
It was also the day Glanville knew he was on to something special, with the Knights coming out convincing 24-12 winners in front of 21,460 fans in Newcastle.
“When we played Manly in that Herald Challenge Cup, they’d won in ‘87 and had some great names in there, and we went out to play them and we gave it to them,” he said.
“After that I thought yep, I’ve made the right decision.”
The Knights would go on to finish 14th in 1988 with just five wins to their name, however the foundation the club is built on was well and truly established in that first season.
“We had a lean year, but in those early times it was such a great experience,” Glanville said.
“The crowds would flock to the ground because they knew we mightn’t win the game, but jeez we’d make a crack of it and maybe damage the opposition.
“More often than not the team that we played lost the week after, because they were so battered from taking on the Knights.”