A quick walk around nib Newcastle Knights HQ today will reveal a thriving workplace with as many as 40 staff working to ensure the cogs of the machine keep on turning.
High performance teams and well-being officers along with a focus on scheduling and sports science dominate the football department, ensuring the players have everything at their disposal to put their best foot forward all season.
According to Newcastle Herald journalist Robert Dillon, this level of professionalism was not always the standard set at the Knights in their early years.
“Training would depend on where abouts they could get access,” Dillon told the Our Town Our Team podcast.
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“If it was wet, they would go somewhere like Dudley or Stockton, where it would be a sand-based field and they could get on.
“They did one whole pre-season at Windale Oval, and they did do a bit of training at the Sports Centre (now McDonald Jones Stadium) on the field.”
So unorganised was the Club that, according to Dillon, they were sometimes denied access to their makeshift training grounds.
Not that it stopped them.
“They did a lot of training at Passmore Oval in Wickham, and there was one famous story where they turned up to train at Wickham and Passmore was all locked up,” Dillon said.
“Glenn Miller, who was a plumber and a bit of a can-do sort of guy, he jumped into his plumbers’ truck and grabbed out a pair of bolt cutters and cut the chain on the lock of the gate and in they went and trained.”
The Knights nomadic training schedule continued for the better part of two decades, with the Club eventually settling into their current home in Mayfield.
“For the first 20 years of the Clubs existence they were pretty nomadic about where they trained,” Dillon said.
“In those days they did a bit of training at University No.3 Oval.
“They had shipping crates with their gear in and a couple of portaloos, but the players didn’t use them, they just went in the bush.”
The team didn’t even have a dedicated gym, instead preferring to continually shop around for whoever offered them the most enticing arrangement.
“The gym they used depended in those days who they could get the best deal with, there was Planet Fitness, then the uni,” he said.
“I’m not sure of the logistics of it but it was almost like they’d go around to find a gym where they could strike a mutually agreeable deal.
“Yet in those years, they won two premierships.”