Home' Hunter Its People : June 2010 Contents 18 THE HERALD Thursday, June 24, 2010
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TICKETS FROM THE CLUB
WHEN it comes to the news makers in the Hunter
region, sports people are the leaders of the pack.
If the number of times a person is mentioned in
the local press is any indication of their importance, then
the sportsmen of the Hunter are vital cogs in the wellbeing
of the city.
There is no doubt the premiership victories of the
Knights in 1997 and 2001 and the Jets in 2007/08
lifted the spirits of the entire region and showed the
importance of sport to the Hunter population, but it is
a little surprising to find that of the 10 most-mentioned
newsmakers in the Newcastle Herald during 2009, eight of
them are connected to sport.
Seven of those eight were out-and-out sports
personalities, while Con Constantine owns the Newcastle
Jets, but also gained mentions for his business dealings.
If the popularity and importance of the Knights needs
any underlining, not only were the top two on the list the
former Knights coach Brian Smith and the present captain
Kurt Gidley, but they were hundreds of mentions in
advance of any of the other Hunter personalities.
Showing that the city may be sports obsessed but at least
bipartisan, the Knights and the Jets both have four on the
top 10 list.
The only non-sporting personalities to rate were Member
for Newcastle Jodi McKay, the only female on the list wedged
at number five between Jarrod
nko Culina, and
Mayor John Tate,
number seven in
versial Smith was
tle Knights' coach
until he left in
ney City with four
in the season,
ct that he was still
s a clean-sweeping
who kicked from
b some popular
.in 1954, he
30 first grade
for St George and
s before turning to
ng with Illawarra
4, then Hull (UK),
He has never
coached a team to a premiership victory but reached
the finals with Hull, two consecutive grand finals with St
George in 1992-93 and with Parramatta in 2001, when he
was named Dally M coach of the year.
2. KURT GIDLEY
The Knights' captain and Australian and NSW
representative has followed former Knights teammates
Danny Buderus and Andrew Johns as the third straight
Newcastle-based Blues captain.
Gidley carries much of the Knights' 2010 hopes on his
Born in Newcastle in 1982, the fullback or utility player
was a Western Suburbs Newcastle junior and joined the
Knights in 1999, making his first grade debut against the
Dragons at Newcastle in 2001.
He missed the start of this season through injury with a
torn hamstring tendon suffered in the inaugural All Stars
game in February but has returned to the playing field.
3. GARY VAN EGMOND
Football coach Gary van Egmond was the toast of the
town when he guided the Newcastle Jets to the 2007-08
A-League Championship but like Brian Smith, his reign
ended in controversy when he left the Jets on short notice
last year despite being contracted to 2013.
He is now in charge of the Australian Institute of Sport
football program and the Australia under-17 football team.
Born in 1965, van Egmond became a prominent
National Soccer League player before moving overseas
to play for Roda JC. He made his Socceroos debut in the
1988 Seoul Olympics and was back playing in Australia in
the 1990s. He joined Newcastle Breakers as assistant coach
in 2001, remaining as the team was renamed the Jets, and
after a disastrous start to the 2006-07 season he took over
when the Jets were last and winless. He turned the team
around, making the finals and winning the premiership
the following year.
4. JARROD MULLEN
Burdened with the impossible expectation of being ''the
next Andrew Johns'' when the champion halfback retired
in 2007, the five-eighth and halfback is one of the most
dangerous players in the NRL on his day but has not found
the consistency to fulfil his early promise and become one
of rugby league's elite.
Born in Singleton in 1987, he played juniors with Taree
Panthers and Western Suburbs Newcastle before joining
the Knights in 2002 and making his debut against the
Tigers in 2005, aged only 18.
After nine first grade games as halfback and 31 games
in total, he was a shock choice at half for the NSW Blues
in the 2007 State of Origin series but his representative
opportunities have slipped since then.
5. JODI MCKAY
The Member for Newcastle since 2007, the NSW Minister
for Tourism, Minister for the Hunter, Minister for Science
and Medical Research and Minister for Women, is profiled
in the lead story of this magazine.
McKay appeared secure during a year of political turmoil
in NSW surviving a number of Cabinet reshuffles. Many
of her Herald mentions revolved around the renewal of
Newcastle including the rail line debate and health and
THE HUNTER ...
Kurt Gidley and Brian Smith
Gary van Egmond
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