A long-standing Hunter Rugby “war” will be pushed to the side, albeit for a couple of minutes, to honour our servicemen and women, plus other fallen heroes, at Townson Oval this weekend.
And, thanks to some behind-the-scenes manoeuvring by both clubs’ committees, that rivalry is set to be formalised with the creation of the Adams-Halter Anzac Shield.
Following the abandonment of the 2020 competition, due to COVID-19, “The Greens” and “Two Blues” realised how significant the clashes were to both clubs and their wider communities.
As a result, it was decided to contest an annual fixture – to be played on or around Anzac Day.
Hence, the concept of the shield was born, paying homage to local legends Merewether Carlton’s Neil “Noodles” Adams and Wanderers’ John “Fats” Halter.
“Townson Oval, with its Memorial Gates, has always played a significant role in the community’s remembrance of the sacrifices and contributions of our servicemen and women,” Merewether Carlton president John Davis said.
“As a club, we felt it fitting that on such an occasion we also revere and celebrate the Anzac tradition in our own way by contesting the Adams-Halter Anzac Shield.
“As a serviceman and Merewether’s sole Wallaby, we felt there was no more appropriate individual than Neil Adams to adorn the silverware on behalf of the club.”
Davis said it would be remiss not to acknowledge John Halter’s contribution to the code, too.
“He was an outstanding clubman and his lasting legacy to the Wanderers and his lifetime mateships on and off the field are a testament to the spirit of what this shield seeks to recognise,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.
“In the context of that bond, we recognise and thank all our servicemen and women this Anzac Day.”
In 1942, Adams enlisted and served in the 2/32 Battalion in the Pacific.
At age 32, he toured as a front-rower with the Australian team to New Zealand as Wallaby No. 408.
He was a Country Rugby selector for six years, coach for three and committee member for a further 15.
Adams served three seasons as president of Newcastle Rugby.
He said the high point of his career was the Greens’ 1958 premiership.
Singleton-born Halter is a Wanderers great.
He began playing with the club in 1949, spending 15 years in the first grade ranks displaying outstanding qualities as both a player and captain.
He represented NSW Country and NSW and was also named as a reserve for Australia.
Halter played for Newcastle against the Fijians, Maoris and All Blacks before being picked for NSW Country for a clash with the 1956 Springboks.
When he hung up his boots seven years later, he’d amassed 286 first grade appearances.
He was subsequently awarded life membership of the club in 1964.
The Adams-Halter Anzac Shield will involve the senior, junior and women’s contingents of The Greens and Two Blues, starting with the inaugural showdown at Townson Oval and Gibbs Brothers Oval on Saturday 24 April.
All up, an estimated 600 players are expected to participate across all age groups and grades.
“There’ll be no Dawn Service at the Memorial Gates due to ongoing COVID restrictions this year,” Davis said.
“But, prior to the start of the Premier 1 battle, we’ll host a short ceremony followed by a wreath laying by both club captains.
“All events will be conducted under COVIDSafe conditions and guidelines.”
Adding a further element to the hotly-contested duel is the form of The Greens and Two Blues.
Merewether Carlton thrashed Lake Macquarie 82-3 in its Hunter Rugby season opener last weekend, while the Wanderers proved too strong for Nelson Bay 24-13.
And, the opportunity to maintain that winning momentum should ensure an exciting spectacle for local union fans.
Round 1 results:
Maitland d Singleton 22-13
Southern Beaches d University of Newcastle 27-0
Merewether Carlton d Lake Macquarie 82-3
Wanderers d Nelson Bay 24-13
Bye: Hamilton Hawks
Round 2 draw:
(Saturday 24 April)
3pm: Merewether Carlton v Wanderers
3pm: University of Newcastle v Nelson Bay
3pm: Hamilton Hawks v Maitland
3pm: Southern Beaches v Lake Macquarie