As a teen, Ash ‘The Flash’ Gordon was a skinny teen with speed to burn but was he too small for first grade?
The first signing the Newcastle Knights made ahead of entering the NSWRL competition in 1998, Gordon was told he needed to bulk up.
If he wanted to play in the top grade alongside the likes of muscle mountains Paul Harragon and Tony Butterfield, he needed to gain weight.
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The problem was, he couldn’t and during the early days, it was a one size fits all mentality to training.
“I was too light,” Gordon told the Our Town Our Team podcast.
“I was 71 kilos, so there was always a focus on me to put on weight. That was always my biggest obstacle.
“It was a matter of trying to get some weight on. Back in those days they didn’t have individual training programs. So, I would do the long runs like everybody else. The fitness – we got flogged.
“In hindsight, I should’ve done two or three really good sessions in the gym rather than running around the oval.”
Without a regular home base and the bare minimum for supplies, it’s fair to say the focus on nutrition wasn’t what it is today.
In an industry where sports science and nutritionists are in every club, the inaugural season for the Knights say home remedies make their way into the plan.
When Gordon was told he had to pack on the pounds, a case of dark beer was sent to his house.
“Back then they weren’t really up to speed,” he said.
“We had milkshakes and things like that.
“I remember being given a carton of Stout because it makes you eat more. I couldn’t drink it but that was an old school remedy to try and increase my appetite.
“I ate quite well but it was in the genes, I just couldn’t put on weight.”
It was a different time.
For the new club on the scenes, they were yet to establish a base.
Rather than train in the one location, they chopped and changed for several seasons, even training on patches of grass without field markings.
“We didn’t have an oval. I remember training at Stockton, you have the soccer field on the left and across the road there was a patch of grass beside the road and water. We trained where the hockey fields are now, we trained at Dudley. We didn’t have a home. The weights room was free-weights.
“When you grow up living with normality, sometimes having the best doesn’t connect with me.
“When you grow up with not much, you didn’t need a lot. Those players adapted to that.
“It was part of the essence of the club and the players we had.”