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Grand day for Newtown

October 1 2012

by Jodie Newell

Finally the Newtown Jets won a grand final. After years of disappointment, rejection from the main tier of New South Wales Rugby League in the 1980’s, heartbreaking losses in 2006 & 2008, the Jets had their day literally in the Homebush sunshine on Sunday.

And boy wasn't it enjoyed by the multitude of their loyal fans, players and hard working officials who have rebuilt the club into an irresistible, sincere rugby league brand.

We are all familiar with the classic Blues Brothers film, in which two social misfits are given a “mission from God” to achieve an honorable goal, overcoming any obstacle placed in front of them. Well the film’s director John Landis may be paying a visit soon to the Jet’s administration asking coach Greg Matterson for his gameplan scripts. The Jets season in 2012 was full of great escapes and miracles.

What if Jack Littlejohn had missed his penalty kick on the siren against Illawarra? what if the Cutters hadn't worked harder at Kogarah Oval in the first elimination final? what if Daniel Mortimer had missed the extra time field goal in the semi final against the North Sydney Bears? In the end it didn't matter, it seemed the Jets were going to win the VB NSW Cup no matter what hardship or obstacle. They simply had a fierce desire to win when it really counted.

Coach Greg Matterson has to take huge credit for keeping his team focussed and installing a belief into his players. Throughout 2012 when the chips were seemingly down, the tough, uncompromising coach refused to accept anything less than total commitment from his players and they responded accordingly.

In a modern world of sports science where key performance indicators are the norm, Matterson is an old school type, firm but fair, relying on passion and good old fashioned toughness to get the message across to his team.

Quite wisely the Sydney Roosters are taking the Newtown Jets organisation very seriously. Roosters CEO Steve Noyce could be seen in the Newtown rooms sporting a Jets royal blue polo shirt and wide grin after their grand final win, clearly signaling his club’s support of Newtown. Greg Matterson also made mention of the Roosters in his immediate remarks to all present in the sheds after the game. The Roosters are looking to rebuild vital moral and it couldn't begin in a better place than with the Newtown Jets.

On the players side, each did their bit to ensure the VB NSW Cup was theirs. Adam Henry who couldn't play in the grand final due to an arm injury, was magnificent throughout the finals series. Mose Masoe and Daniel Mortimer were sensational. Masoe the big bear of a player, told NMG Sports after the game that he dedicated the win to the recently deceased Arthur Beetson. Beetson had been instrumental in getting Masoe to the Roosters. “Arty” and “Bumper” Farrell must have exchanged many a word over the Jets big win, in the rugby league sportsbar in heaven yesterday.

Josh Ailaomai provided plenty of muscle upfront, whilst winger Peni Tagive chipped in with some handy runs on the wing. The big unit in Justin Carney was also superb. His line breaking runs in the preliminary final against the Bulldogs were pulsating.

The popular clubman in Mark Kheirallah provided much needed support for his team mates from the sidelines. The list could go on and on. It was a top effort from the Jets playing staff.

Some Observations on Grand Final Day:

  1. BulletThe Balmain Ryde Eastwood Tigers were gallant in defeat and put in a fine performance yesterday. Tigers coach Paul Fletcher got the very best out of his players and is one of the most talented coaches in the VB NSW Cup. We would like to thank him for his time given to us during the post-match phase. He always made himself available for an interview and gave us some insightful comments about the grand game of rugby league. We wish him all the best for season 2013.

  1. Bullet Sean Meaney has to take a lot of credit for getting his side to the grand final from eighth position. The captain expressed at times a volatile nature, which earned the wrath of the referees during different stages of the season. To Meaney’s full credit he remained totally focussed throughout the Tigers finals campaign. He was extremely gracious on Sunday after his side’s loss. We would also like to thank him for making himself available for post-match interviews.

  1. BulletThe fun police were out in force at yesterday’s game. There was never a better illustration of the difference between stadium sports management and down to earth honest footballing passion than yesterday. Penny farthing exponent and Jets diehard John Trad was begrudgingly given permission to do a cycle round on the smallest of circumferences whenever the Jets scored. He was continually monitored by the powers that be.  And then at the final hooter, John went to get a bucket of gatorade and was going to dump it all over coach Greg Matterson before a black shirt stepped in and told him to stop. It really was ridiculous. Fair dinkum, what has Australia come to??  Traddy wasn't going to harm anybody whatsoever. His spontaneous passion adds much needed colour to the so called “professional’ sports scene. Look at the Sydney Swans stalwart in Kenny Williams who led the Swans in their club theme song with unadulterated, blissful passion on Saturday night. Would he have been given a start the other day at Homebush? or would Balmain Tigers legend Laurie Nichols been given a chance to shadow box on the sidelines?? The people in charge really do need a dose of common sense otherwise the game will become sterile. It’s the characters that make the game great.

  1. BulletThere was another “force’ in play as well yesterday. Media coverage by NSW Cup photo journalists was severely restricted by the powers that be. Jets photographers in Jason McCawley and Gary Sutherland were told they were unable to stand on the sidelines to take photos of the game. Only a handful of “officially” sanctioned photographers were permitted.  Gary and Jason were forced to remain in their seats to take photos.This really was mean spirited, as it was an early curtain raiser, they surely would not have gotten in the way. They are extremely experienced in the ebbs and flows of the game of rugby league and we have never seen them in any shape or form obstruct or interfere with play whatsoever throughout season 2012. Their love of the game and of the Jets is clearly evident in their work. They were robbed of an opportunity to go out onto the field to capture Newtown’s post-match celebrations. In fairness, recognised media from the NSW Cup season were given accreditation to attend the game. However the restrictions put in place were ridiculous. Those who think they know better, just don't. As one wise wag quipped to us at the Petersham RSL Jets celebrations later that afternoon “They simply don’t get it” Never a truer word was said regarding mainstream pro sports and their inability to understand the new digital media environment.

  1. BulletManaged to exchange a few words with Phil Gould on the sidelines prior to the Newtown game. Mentioned that we had viewed the Jets v Eels 1981 grand final during the week on Fox Sports. We remarked on how we saw him play and how he created some nice finessing plays. Phil responded by saying ‘Gee’s that was a long time ago, it was a tough game”. No doubt he would have enjoyed the Jets victory yesterday.

  1. BulletAnother former grand finalist in Canterbury Bankstown legend Andrew ‘Bobcat” Ryan graced the sidelines prior to the Jets game. He is usually behind the mike calling NSW Cup games, but not on Grand FInal day as Channel 9 had rights coverage. Someone remarked that it would be a tough first grade final. Ryan said “The first 20 minutes should be brutal, I’m glad I’ll be sitting in the stands, they can have it” he joked.

  1. BulletThe scenes of sheer joy at the Petersham RSL after-match celebrations were great to witness. Fans wildly cheered the Newtown players as they made their way up their stairs into the function room which had been decked out in blue and white streamers and balloons,with Jets photos from every era plastered on the wall. Newtown club historian Terry Williams had a grin from ear to ear. We bumped into Terry on Friday at the Rugby League Central museum. Terry is part responsible for putting the incredible collection together along with Tony Puletua. Terry told us he didn't go out to Homebush as he felt he didn't want to jinx the Jets after witnessing the 2006 & 2008 defeats. Stay tuned as we will be writing a story about the rugby league museum in the coming weeks

  1. BulletCongratulations to New South Wales Rugby League media guru Brad Preston during the 2012 season. We appreciate his work throughout the 2012 season. Whilst we expressed frustration at the grand final media arrangements for the NSW Cup, he clearly understood our “pain”. Brad totally has his head around the new, modern media environment and fully understands how beneficial it has been particularly with the VB NSW Cup. Community radio in Triple H, Hawkesbury FM, The Twitterverse, Facebook world and various club and fan websites have all contributed in telling the rich story of New South Wales rugby league. Thanks Brad for encouraging the various media groups to participate in the VB NSW Cup of 2012.

  1. BulletOne of the more touching and uplifting scenes yesterday was the enormous generosity of injured Newtown captain Khalid Deeb who gave his premiership medal to the lovely young lad in Jack Kelly, who proudly wore the medal around his neck. Khalid is the longest serving member of the Jets squad playing for 6 seasons. That was one hell of a gesture and illustrates the inclusiveness of the Newtown club. Was definitely one of the highlights of the day.

*Many thanks to Jeffrey Gabriel for the info