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Tributes flow for Knights’ founding father Leigh Maughan

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Tributes are flowing in for Leigh Maughan OAM, considered by many as the founding father of the Newcastle Knights.

He was one of the driving forces – alongside Michael Hill and the late Gerry Edser – behind the NRL club’s formation and entry into the NSW Rugby League competition in 1988.

His passing overnight followed a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp was quick to praise Maughan’s legacy.

“Today we lost a local legend,” he said.

“A Novocastrian through-and-through, Leigh wanted a team for our children to cheer for and we can’t thank him enough for his vision.”

NBN presenter Gavin Morris simply called Maughan “one of the greats”.

Knights and Wests Group Australia CEO Philip Gardner echoed those sentiments.

“Leigh leaves an indelible mark on our city, our club and on rugby league,” he said.

“His place in history as a founding father of the Knights is secure and we will always be thankful for everything he did in creating the club.

“He was a regular face at games until relatively recently and his passion never wavered.

“In Leigh’s honour, we will wear black armbands next Thursday (7 March) against Canberra as a show of our deep respect.

“May he rest in peace.”

Creative content producer at STAN Dean Parr admitted it was a “very sad day”.

“I was fortunate enough to know and work with Leigh for a number of years as a very young man across a number of projects from my very first days out of Uni at Level 7 Advertising, then with PROticket and the Hunter Prostate Cancer Alliance (HPCA) … the list goes on,” he said.

“He was instrumental in securing my role with the Newcastle Knights, was always a tycoon of energy and passion, never short of a story and I was lucky to have heard hundreds of them.

“But you’re with Mary now, mate.

“What a life, what a story… was a pleasure. Raising a cold one for you tonight as I’m sure many more will be.

“See you in the next one, my friend.”

A lifelong lover of rugby league, Maughan was well-known in business and in sporting circles as a player, referee and Newcastle Rugby League board member.

However, he was perhaps best known for his commentary, first on Newcastle radio station 2NX and later at NBN Television.

He was also the marketing manager for the HPCA between 2008 and 2015.

Maughan’s vision – that Newcastle deserved a place in the elite Sydney competition – sparked in the mid-1970s and his partnership with Hill and Edser started a decade-long crusade that ultimately led to the Knights creation and admission into the 1988 competition.

He would go on to work for the club as well as serving two stints on the Knights Board of Directors, contributing a total of 21 years’ service in the role.

A Newcastle Life Member, he was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2020 for his service to rugby league in the city and region.

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