ON THE MOVE: Newcastle fullback Nathan Ross (left), in action against the Canterbury Bulldogs at Belmore Sports Ground on Sunday, reckons one Knights home game should be taken on the road next season. Picture: Getty ImagesSunday afternoon, winter sun andpacked house at a Knights home game –not in Newcastle.
Hitting the road and sharing the love with fans elsewhere in Cessnock, Scone or further afield throughoutthe club’s catchment area.
Sounds pretty good to me and while logistics must be considered in shifting an entire NRL roundit’s something I’d love to see on the Knightscalendar forfuture seasons.
A fewthings got me thinking about this concept recently, including our trip to Belmore on Sunday and a visit to Gloucester for a fundraiser,but just to clarify before I go any further.
The Knights have the best supporters in the competition. Bar none. Full stop.
In their thousands they turn up alongTurton Road week-in,week-out regardless of the circumstances andfrequentthe only patch they’ve ever known.
Have done for 30 years and running out in front of a red and blue armyat that very stadium never gets old.
It’s why contemplating such a move is difficult, but also pertinent.
Tackling the Bulldogs at their spiritual home, rather than their larger adopted house at Homebush, created a much different atmosphere with potentially on-par crowds closer by on the hill at an older suburban venue.
It also reminded me about the final City-Country clash at Mudgee in May, a pre-season trial match in Orange and rival clubs playing in places like Cairns, Darwin, Adelaide, Perth and even Dunedin.
But while what the Knights have is close to perfect, why not spread that good will to others in regional or country towns for 80 minutes.
The effect of setting up camp, conducting clinics and greeting passers-by can be both real and immediate.
Case in point being theyoung boys I crossed paths with near Barrington Tops last week.They used to fancythe Eels andWarriors, for no particular reason, butafter a first-time meeting with an NRL player assured me they now follow the Knights.
So while the weather and kick-off time mentioned in my opening line are obviously subject to change, the idea remains the same.
And of course the finances andfacilities raise tough questions for organisers, but I can picture the punters scrambling for a seat on the roof and already feel the excitement building in the air.
It might be simply planting a seed, but let’s see if it grows.
In the end it’s all about taking the game to the people.