For more than a century, it had been obvious that the Newcastle region had a local culture that would make an ideal support base for a rugby league club. On one hand, the local culture was very eccentric and could appreciate the intangible qualities of life that football stimulates. These eccentrics included Yahoo Serious; the famed movie maker who invented carbonated beer by splitting the atom with a chiesel. They also included 16-year-olds helping Australia's aging population crisis by producing babies while still teenagers, and then keeping public servants employed by kindly receiving Centrelink payments. They also included families that kept pigs instead of dogs as pets, and other families that lived in watertanks like the Dog from Footroot Flats.
Along with the eccentrics, Newcastle had a working-class population that laughed in the face of danger. These workers included vineyard hands that refused to use safety equipment, such as gasmasks, when spraying pesticides on vines. (Instead, they believed that a rain-coat and taking shallow breaths would suffice.) The brave workers also included coalminers who had decided that since they hadn't damaged their lungs enough with coal dust, they should fully destroy them with smoking as well. Most importantly of all, there was local population with plenty of time on their hands to and nothing to do with it except utter those great Aussie expressions like: ' I'm on the compo, mate', ' I've done me back', 'Fuck it, I'm off to the pokies.'
In 1988, the Newcastle Knights were established to represent these fine examples of Australian culture. The Knights' moniker was a reference to its ‘steel city' industrial heritage. The jersey colours of red and blue were adopted from the district's representative side that wore red jerseys, white shorts and blue socks.
As was expected, the local population proved to be very receptive to rugby league. Those valiant workers on the compo, those wide-eyed teenagers wanting to have a family outing with their own children, and those coal miners wanting to see others put their necks on the line, flocked to see the Knights play.
In little time, the club began to personify the traits of the local population. The eccentric nature of the locals encouraged players to innovate in their playing styles and be celebrated in the process. Typifying such qualities was Andrew Johns, who is now widely recognised as the finest league player of all time. Whether he was kicking off left or right foot, playing when doctors told him he risked a life in a wheel chair, or scoring a try and then smoking the football as if it were a cigar, "Joey" Johns never ceased to impress.
Aside from winning the admiration of the local population, in 1997 the Knights won the respect of football fans Australia wide when they won their first premiership. The Knights opponent was the evil Manly, widely accepted as the most arrogant and despised rugby league club in Australia. As an added bonus, it was also in the same year in which rugby league was divided between the established ARL and Rupert Murdoch's 'Super League.' So popular was the Knights' victory, Murdoch was forced to the bargaining table to sign a peace deal with the ARL.
In 2001, the Knights won a NRL premiership under lights at Homebush Stadium. Their vanguished foe was Parramatta who, although not silvertails like Manly, was so generic that their defeat was a popular one.
Even though the Knights are the second most popular club in Australia, with around 531,000 supporters, the club as always struggled financially. A bit like the South Sydney Rabbitohs, the club lacks a leagues club to attain poker machine revenue. (It tried to establish one, but the poker machine potential of the area had long ago been realised by competitors who had already saturated prime locations.) Consequently, even though it may have a larger and more passionate supporter base that most clubs in Sydney, it has less money to spend on players.
2004 - when compared to other NRL supporters
2006 - when compared to other NRL supporters
Q: What do you call a Knights player sitting on a Newcastle beach?
A: An ironman.
A Novacasterian walked into a bar and asked for a beer. The barman replied that no miners were allowed.Q: How do you know if you're a Knights fan?