A 40-year friendship wasn’t enough to lift the Cessnock Goannas to glory in the Newcastle and Hunter Community Rugby League open men’s competition at Baddeley Park at the weekend.
But, even though Maitland United secured the victory 26-10, you couldn’t wipe the smiles off the faces of life-long mates Mark “Wilto” Wilton and Shane “Webby” Saunders.
The pair, who’ve known each other since the age of five or six, donned the Goannas famous jumper in the D grade third round showdown.
The last time the duo took the field in the same Cessnock line-up occurred back in 1999 – more than two decades ago.
“It was great to play alongside Webby again,” Wilton said.
“I loved every moment of it.
“Although we’ll probably pay for it later in the week.
“It’s just a shame we didn’t get the right result.”
Wilto and Webby first joined forces in 1988 as members of the Aberdeen Tigers.
They both then represented the NSW Schoolboys three seasons later.
“He was a terrific player,” Wilton told the Newcastle Weekly.
“Webby also gained selection with the Australian Schoolboys that same year – and enjoyed plenty of success down the track.
“He made Country in 1993 and was a regular member of the Northern Division rep squad between 1993 and 1996.
“Webby won a first grade premiership with the Denman Devils in 1997, too.
“Between the two of us, I reckon we’ve played 1000-plus games.
“And, there might be a match, or three, still left in the old legs.”
As for Wilton, himself, he enjoyed a pretty good career in the bush as well, winning many titles with Aberdeen.
A favourite son at Hunter Valley Group 21 club, the Tigers, he’s also worked closely with the Newcastle Knights’ talented juniors and was a member of the Goannas’ support crew when the team secured the 2020 Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League crown.
Newcastle and Hunter Community Rugby League open men’s
Northern Lakes d Thornton Beresfield 36-26
Cardiff d Kurri Kurri 32-16
Dora Creek d South Newcastle 28-6
Belmont Souths d Northern Hawks 68-0
Swansea d Glendale 34-6
Newc University d Windale 32-20
Shortland d Aberglasslyn 40-30
Dudley d Budgewoi 32-30
Awabakal d Hamilton 34-32
Kotara d Wallsend Maryland 34-20
Woodberry d Morisset 30-18
West Wallsend d Fingal Bay 26-6
East Maitland d Kearsley 26-0
Western Suburbs d Waratah 28-18
Maitland United d Cessnock 26-0