It’s hard to think of a better way to sign off from a club than winning a premiership.
For Darren Albert, his last game in the red and blue could’ve been the 2001 grand final, which the Knights famously took out 30-24 over Parramatta.
The hero of the 1997 decider had played in 23 of the Knights matches over the course of the ’01 season, including the 40-6 thrashing of the Sydney Roosters in the qualifying final.
So why was Albert missing from the decider?
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“For weeks beforehand I had a sore ankle,” Albert said.
“I was always thinking about what it could be, and I just thought it was a bone spur.
“I didn’t think much of it and I was running on it and getting needles every week.”
What transpired come the first semi-final would surprise even Albert himself.
“The week of the Roosters it was hurting quite a lot, but I still didn’t know it was broken,” he said.
“I got two or three needles before the game then another couple at half-time.
“Then after the game I’ve gone to get an x-ray and it showed it was broken up through my ankle, so I missed out on the grand-final that year.”
Having played for months on a broken ankle, doctors were quick to rule him out from any further action that season.
Despite the incredible legacy from the 1997 decider, Albert still wishes he was able to take the field for one last game in the red and blue before departing for Super League.
“It was super tough, I kind of wish I didn’t worry about it and just went and got some more needles,” Albert laughed.
“I don’t know what sort of damage it would’ve caused, but it was a hard end to my season and my career with the Knights and then knowing I was going elsewhere, it was a hard time.”