The efforts of the Maitland Pickers during a COVID-19 affected season in 2020 have not gone unnoticed.
And, in the Parliament of New South Wales Legislative Assembly this month, Maitland state MP Jenny Aitchison delivered a Community Recognition Statement in front of her colleagues to honour the Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL) club for its achievements on the field.
The Pickers opted to contest the prestigious state-wide President’s Cup, stunning all and sundry by not only representing the Hunter impeccably but winning the crown from Sydneysiders Glebe-Burwood Wolves in a nail-biter.
“The club was founded in 1942 and has been a stalwart of our local community ever since,” Ms Aitchison said.
“Despite COVID-19 bringing turbulence to many rugby league organisations across NSW, the Pickers salvaged a season of success.
“The first grade men’s side picked up the President’s Cup, defeating the Glebe-Burwood Wolves 17-16 in a knife-edge grand final at Bankwest Stadium.
“The under-19s also managed a stellar result, reaching the play-offs in their competition.
“The women’s team made it all the way to the decider against South Newcastle.
“However, unfortunately, they did not get the trophy at the end.
“But, I thank very much the senior coach Matt Lantry for his hard work and wish the best of luck to him, all the players and his assistants for this year’s Real NRL.
“I take this opportunity to acknowledge club president Frank Lawler for his endless dedication in ensuring the great standard of rugby league continues in Maitland.”
The Pickers’ rise to the top has not occurred over night.
In fact, Maitland last claimed a Real NRL title in 2011.
“We’ve been building here for a few seasons, firstly under Trevor Ott,” Lawler recently told the Newcastle Weekly.
“He did a lot of great stuff as coach.
“Then (former NRL player) Luke Dorn came in after Trevor.
“He helped rebuild us again.
“Now, Matt Lantry’s taken the Pickers to the next level.
“He’s brought a lot of professionalism into the organisation and attracted a lot of quality players as well.
“With the support of our sponsors, and Club Maitland City, we’re in really good position.”
Lawler was humbled by Ms Aitchison’s praise.
“It’s terrific to see the club recognised recently via a Community Recognition Statement by Jenny in the chamber of the Legislative Assembly of the NSW Parliament,” he said.
“It was a great, positive community endorsement to the club and all involved at the Pickers, from juniors to grade.”
After a bye last weekend, due to representative fixtures, Maitland tackles the second-placed Macquarie Scorpions at home on Saturday 22 May.
Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League
(Round nine draw)
Saturday 22 May –
2pm: Cessnock Goannas v The Entrance Tigers (Cessnock Sportsground)
3pm: Kurri Kurri Bulldogs v South Newcastle Lions (Kurri Kurri Sportsground)
3pm: Maitland Pickers v Macquarie Scorpions (Maitland Sportsground)
4pm: Wyong Roos v Western Suburbs Rosellas (Morry Breen Oval)
Sunday 23 May –
3pm: Central Newcastle Butcher Boys v Lakes United Seagulls (St Johns Oval)