The Newcastle Knights entered the competition in 1988 and quickly gained a reputation as one of the toughest and competitive teams in the competition. With the Newcastle and Hunter Valley region a breeding ground for Rugby League talent, the Knights began to find success in the late 90s. In the year of 1997, the Knights made their first ever Grand final appearance against arch rivals Manly, winning the game on the siren in one of the most thrilling Grand Finals the game will ever see.
On the back of the freakish talents of immortal Andrew Johns, the Knights would continue to be a top contender in the proceeding seasons following their first Grand Final victory, leading to second Premiership in 2001. In the first night time Grand Final ever played, Newcastle defeated minor premiers Parramatta after going into the game as one of the biggest outsiders in any previous Grand Finals played.
After the shock retirement of captain Andrew Johns in 2007, the club experienced some challenging years both on-and-off the field, with poor on field performances and a high rate of player turnover. In 2011, mining magnate and Newcastle local, Nathan Tinkler, assumed ownership of the club in what was seen as an answer to the club’s financial hardships. The club signed “supercoach” Wayne Bennett on a four-year deal and made some high-profile signings in an attempt to re-instate the club as an NRL powerhouse. Bennett was unable to turn things around at the Knights however and Tinkler’s corporate life dissolved into turmoil after it was revealed he was bankrupt, resulting in him relinquishing ownership of the club in 2014.
This triggered a tumultuous period for the Knights which saw them claim three consecutive wooden spoon between the years of 2015-17. Despite the lack of success, the club still have still managed to develop young local talent as well as recruiting experienced NRL players, most notably halfback Mitchell Pearce for the 2018 season. The Newcastle fan base is arguably the most loyal in the competition making The Knights one of the most community driven clubs in the NRL.
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