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REAL NRL: Goannas ready to honour 1972 premiership-winning team

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Rain, hail or shine… the Cessnock Goannas are determined to honour their 1972 premiership-winning team this weekend.

Fifty years ago, the Norm Henderson-led outfit upstaged the Maitland Pickers 18-10 in the Newcastle Rugby League decider.

And, if the weather gods behave, those two clubs will go at it again at the Cessnock Sportsground on Saturday 9 July in front of a legion of “gold and black” fans, including numerous members of the victorious grand final squad.

“It’s a great thing to celebrate,” president Ross Murray said.

“Former St George Dragon Norm Henderson captain-coached the side, which boasted a lot of local kids.

“Guys like Dave White, Doug Clark and Rod Sneesby, who scored two tries, were only 18.

“Norm actually played another two seasons with the Goannas before retiring in 1975.

“He was also named in our Team of the Century, which highlights the influence he had on Cessnock footy.

“Even though a couple of those blokes attend our Old Boys Days, I’m expecting a lot [of the team] will turn up for this.

“And, if the match is called off, we’ll still do something for them.”

To commemorate the occasion, all three Goannas sides – under-19s, reserves and seniors – will wear a 1972 replica strip, which includes every Cessnock RLFC Life Member’s name.

“Secretary Cherie Douglas came up with that idea,” Murray told the Newcastle Weekly.

“I think it’s fantastic gesture, recognising our Goanna greats.

“Members of the 1972 squad will present the first grade jerseys to our current line-up, too, and be introduced on the field prior to the 3pm kick-off.

“Hopefully, it’ll spur the boys on against the Pickers.

“We have our fingers crossed the rain clears because the hill should be packed.

“Then, afterwards, everyone is invited to return to the Cessnock Leagues Club auditorium for some food, photos, chats and beers to celebrate our past and present.”

The showdown between Cessnock and Maitland, itself, should be a cracker as well.

The Goannas handed out a lesson to the South Newcastle Lions 42-16, while the Pickers accounted for the Wyong Roos 28-16 in round 14.

“It was a good win; and a nice way to mark Josh Charles’ 100th appearance,” Murray said.

“He played well, too, scoring a double on the day.

“[Captain-coach] Harry Siejka is doing a hell of a job as well.

“He’s a real gentleman and has been a driving force for the team.

“I believe they’re coming together at the right time of the year.

“But, Maitland will be a good test for us.

“The Pickers are leading the competition and we’re sitting equal second with the Lions.

“So, we need to be strong in defence and sharp in attack.

“We can’t leave anything out on the field.”

Games start from 12.15pm.

  • Cessnock Goannas 1972 premiership-winning team: J. Batey, B. Slade, M. Goldman, R. Sneesby, D. Moore, G. Bradley, L. Hannah, J. Scott, D. Clark, R. Thomson, W. Jobson, N. Henderson, D. White, L. Clifton, W. Mitchell
  • Cessnock 18: Tries – Rod Sneesby (2); goals – M Goldman (6)

Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL)

Denton Engineering Cup

Round 14 results:

  • The Entrance Tigers d Kurri Kurri Bulldogs 30-8
  • Cessnock Goannas d South Newcastle Lions 42-16
  • Maitland Pickers d Wyong Roos 28-16
  • Western Suburbs Rosellas v Macquarie Scorpions postponed
  • Central Newcastle Butcher Boys v Lakes United Seagulls – to be played Tuesday 26 July

Saturday 9 July

  • 3pm: Cessnock Goannas v Maitland Pickers (Cessnock Sportsground)
  • 3pm: Lakes United Seagulls v Macquarie Scorpions (Cahill Oval)
  • 3pm: Kurri Kurri Bulldogs v South Newcastle Lions (Kurri Kurri Sports Ground)
  • 3pm: Wyong Roos v Western Suburbs Rosellas

Sunday 10 July:

  • 3pm: Central Newcastle Butcher Boys v The Entrance Tigers (St John Oval)

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