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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald

Highs, lows, history made and relentless rain in a year of Newcastle sport

After two years interrupted by COVID, seemingly endless wet weather provided a new hurdle for Newcastle sport. But the unprecedented rain failed to put a dampener on a year where mostly sport returned to normal. Here is how it played out.


Jets coach Arthur Papas calls for bigger A-League squads to help clubs combat the scourge of COVID as matches are postponed en masse due to the pandemic. By the end of the month, Newcastle have had six games in a row deferred.

Merewether surfer Jackson Baker makes what he describes as a "bloody good" start to his Championship Tour career, winning his first round of the Pipeline Pro at Sunset, Hawaii.


The Jets' men and women face heavy scheduling, which ultimately shape their seasons. In a situation which Jets coach Ash Wilson sadly says highlights the challenges faced in the women's game, goalkeeper Georgia Boric departs due to work commitments.

History is made when the Knights play their first NRLW game in the postponed 2021 season. Captain Romy Teitzel scores the club's first ever try in a heart-breaking one-point loss to Parramatta at McDonald Jones Stadium.


Baker continues an impressive start to his rookie season on the world tour, placing ninth in the Portugal Pro to have him heading into his home-town surfing event - Surfest - as the No.1 seed.

The Knights men produce one of their finest opening round performances in recent memory, beating the Sydney Roosters 20-6 at the SCG. They back it up with a 26-4 win over the West Tigers when they return to McDonald Jones Stadium for the first time since July 2021 to a 23,214-strong crowd.

The Knights women, meanwhile, end their first campaign winless and holding the wooden spoon.

A 10-man Cooks Hill draw 0-0 with Weston in their first ever NPL Northern NSW match.

Lauren Parker continues her home-town dominance, claiming a fourth straight City of Newcastle Oceania Paratriathlon title at Stockton.

Home-grown teenage talent Archie Goodwin is back in action for the Jets after a string of injury setbacks. He marks the occasion by becoming the youngest player in A-League history to score a match double in a much-needed 2-0 win over Sydney at McDonald Jones Stadium. Jets midfielder Cassidy Davis set an A-League record of her own, finishing the season with an unbeaten 111th consecutive appearance. The Jets women, however, limp to the season's end, hard hit by injuries and unable to fill the bench for their final two matches.

In what is believed to be a first in Australian grassroots rugby union, the Hunter Wildfires announce a landmark commitment to pay their entire women's team.


Baker's dream year continues when he beats North Narrabeen veteran Nathan Hedge to become the first Novocastrian to win Surfest's men's event in 36 editions. Tweed Coast's Macy Callaghan edges out Newcastle-based South African Sarah Baum in the women's final.

Newcastle's men's and women's basketball sides relaunch under the Falcons banner.

Stockton are crowned Newcastle District Cricket Association (NDCA) champions in a rain-affected final with Hamwicks.

Rain wreaks havoc on NPL with three teams having played just one game after five rounds.

The Knights are hard hit by injury with Tyson Frizell the latest casualty of an already depleted forward pack.

Tributes flow after the passing of one of Australia's sporting icons - golfer Jack Newton.

Newcastle's Ky Willott makes his debut for Australia as the Hockeyroos beat Malaysia 3-0 in Perth.


The Jets finish an underwhelming A-League campaign in ninth place after losing 2-0 to arch rivals Central Coast.

Newcastle netball approaches round seven, its season midpoint, with only three rounds played due to wet weather and Lambton Jaffas eye NPL round 12 having played just five matches.

Merewether surfers Morgan Cibilic and Ryan Callinan miss the mid-season cut while Baker retains his CT place for 2023 with a top-22 ranking.


Yasmin and Adam Clydsdale create a unique piece of history by becoming the first married couple to play rugby league for the Knights when the club signs the former from the Sydney Roosters for their second NRLW campaign.

Lakes United celebrate 75 years in first grade of Newcastle Rugby League, the Jets sign Perth skipper and defensive midfielder Brandon O'Neill and the Knights men suffer a fifth straight loss at home, going down 42-6 to the Penrith Panthers.

Charlestown's Blake Windred picks up the biggest pay cheque of his career, pocketing $193,000 after finishing equal 38th in the richest tournament of golf history - the inaugural LIV Invitational Series event in England.


Charlestown Azzurri claim their first NNSW Football Women's State Cup with a 2-0 win over defending champions Maitland at Speers Point. On the same rain-soaked weekend, only one men's NPL game goes ahead. The backlog of games forces an extension to the NPL and NPLW seasons.

The Knights' finals hopes fade in a 42-12 loss to Manly and the wooden spoon shapes as a likely prospect.

The 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham get underway with eight Hunter representatives. They include 17-year-old rugby sevens player Jesse Southwell.

Newcastle Northstars and the Australian ice hockey community mourn the loss of club legend Don Champagne at age 72.


The Jets sign former England and Arsenal defender Carl Jenkinson.

The Wildfires women finish fourth to secure their first ever finals appearance in the top division of Jack Scott Cup in Sydney premier rugby. They go down 15-10 to heavyweights Sydney Uni in a thrilling semi-final. The men fall agonisingly short of the Shute Shield play-offs.

The Knights NRLW side, led by star signings Millie Boyle and Hannah Southwell, give Newcastle fans something to get excited about when they open their second campaign with a resounding 32-14 win over Brisbane. Southwell is a casualty of the match, sustaining a season-ending knee injury, while younger sister Jesse, fresh from winning Commonwealth Games gold in Birmingham, puts in an impressive debut performance at halfback.

Adamstown Rosebud junior and Matildas midfielder Clare Wheeler signs with Everton in English Women's Super League.


The Knights men end a season of woe by equalling a club record of 10 defeats on home soil in one campaign but coach Adam O'Brien vows they will come back "bigger and better".

Meanwhile, their women counterparts, under coach Ron Griffiths, barely miss a beat on the way to booking a grand final appearance.

Maitland beat Jaffas 3-1 to secure the NPL men's premiership in a tight finish, the Northstars go down fighting in a 3-2 loss to Canberra in the Australian Ice Hockey League final and Toronto continue their recent domination of Newcastle Baseball by beating perennial powerhouse Belmont 7-6 in a thrilling grand final to secure a fourth straight premiership.

Maitland Pickers power past Macquarie in the Newcastle Rugby League grand final to claim the club's first premiership in more than a decade. They win 40-4 with Pickers prop Jayden Butterfield named man of the match less than 24 hours after becoming a father for the first time.

After two years without finals, West Leagues Balance beat University of Newcastle 51-38 in a wind-swept Newcastle championship netball grand final to secure a fourth straight major title. Goal keeper Sammie Chicken is named player of the final.

Norths down Gosford 4-3 in extra time of an epic Hunter Coast Premier Hockey League grand final. Gosford, however, beat Tigers 3-2 to claimed their maiden title in Newcastle District Women's Hockey Association premier league.

Newcastle City claim their sixth premiership flag with a three-point win over Killarney Vale in the Black Diamond Cup Women's grand final while the Bombers prevail in the men's Cup decider, beating Terrigal-Avoca 11.5 (71) to 8.10 (58) to end a 15-year premiership drought.

Minor premiers Merewether Carlton win their first Hunter Rugby Union grand final since 2011 with a 19-7 triumph over Hamilton. The win comes after the finals series was postponed by a week due to wild weather.

The future looks bright for Knights fans when Newcastle's under 21s side come close to the club's first Jersey Flegg title since 1992, losing the grand final 19-18 to Penrith in golden point extra time.

Newcastle cliff diver Rhiannan Iffland secures a sixth successive world title.


A worst-to-first fairytale is complete when the Knights capture the NRLW premiership with a comprehensive 32-12 victory over Parramatta at Accor Stadium. Fullback Tamika Upton is named player of the match.

Meanwhile, on the same afternoon back in Newcastle, a 10-man Maitland Magpies go down fighting, literally, in a controversial 1-0 loss to Lambton in the NPL men's grand final at No.2 Sportsground. Defender Zach Thomas is sent off in the 23rd minute for his role in a melee.

Warners Bay clinch a premiership-championship double and become the first grand final winners in NPLW by beating Newcastle Olympic 4-2 in an action-packed women's encounter.

Ryan Callinan secures another spot on next year's Championship Tour and the Jets men get their 2022-23 season off to a flying start with back-to-back wins.


Hunter-based syndicators Australian Bloodstock celebrate Melbourne Cup glory as Gold Trip wins by two lengths, Wests and Stockton share the spoils after a rain-affected NDCA Tom Locker Cup one-day final and Knights players Caitlan Johnston and Yasmin Clydsdale win the World Cup final in England with the Jillaroos.

Parker claims her third straight world paratriathlon crown in Abu Dhabi.


Cibilic fails to requalify for the CT, the Newcastle men's cricket team claim an unprecedented fourth straight NSW Country Championship and, in their fourth attempt, Waratah-Mayfield win the NDCA Women's T20 final in a milestone match at No.1 Sportsground.

Mark Trenter is the sole survivor of a NNSW Football board overthrow by five of the member zones. NNSWF boss David Eland announces his departure at an extraordinary general meeting.

The Jets men end the year with a gutsy 1-0 win over Adelaide in scorching heat in the South Australian capital to seize a top-six position.

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