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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
Max McKinney

Knights supporters give women a reception they deserve

Picture by Marina Neil
Picture by Marina Neil
Geoff Campell. Picture by Marina Neil
Knight Yasmin Clydsdale with fan Alira Johnson, 3. Picture by Marina Neil
Picture by Marina Neil
Picture by Marina Neil
Evander Hancock, 11.
Bella Clack, 17, and Hannah Clack, 14.
Albert Terry, 5, and Lachlan Terry, 3.
From left, Caitlan Johnson, Liam Parsons, 9, Zara Parsons, 10, and Shanice Parker.
Lexie Phillips, 15.
Joel Southgate.
Alira Johnson, 5.
Knight Yasmin Clydsdale with fan Alira Johnson, 3.

Hugh Dyer arrived an hour and a half before the civic reception for Newcastle's NRLW side.

The young Knights fan didn't want to miss the chance to meet his favourite players and celebrate the club's premiership triumph.

Along with father Gary, the 13-year-old from Charlestown was the first in line at City Hall, eagerly awaiting to greet the team.

"They've improved a lot since they first came in; a wooden-spoon in their first year and now two premierships in a row," Hugh said.

A rugby league player himself with the Dudley Magpies, Hugh has followed the NRLW side since their first season. He appreciates the subtle differences in the women's game.

"It's just a little bit different to the men. The game's a bit different and I feel like there's more teamwork in the women," he said.

Skipper Hannah Southwell was at the top of his autograph wishlist.

"She's a forward like me and she's a good leader."

Gary added: "They've just done really well and we should be proud of them."

The father and son were among hundreds who gathered outside City Hall on Tuesday to show their appreciation for the side.

Supporters stood across King Street in Civic Park to give the players, who were perched atop the historic building's balcony, an almighty series of cheers.

The team was brought out onto the rooftop deck before skipper Hannah Southwell and coach Ronald Griffiths lifted the NRLW trophy high into the air.

Fans of young and old broke out into the club's iconic New-ca-stle chant on multiple occasions.

"This is unreal," Southwell said. "We had a similar event last season but I think it's even better this year.

"A lot of the girls who haven't been a part of it before are really shocked by the support. It's something they will remember forever."

Lake Macquarie's Brad Beer brought his daughter Maddie to the reception to meet the players. The 10-year-old met Hannah during a recent school visit at St Paul's Gateshead.

"She came to our school to teach us how to play," Maddie said.

The duo also went to Sunday's grand final, watching the side secure a consecutive title with a 24-18 victory over the Gold Coast Titans.

The Knights now have two NRLW trophies and two NRL titles (1997, 2001) to display in their Broadmeadow training headquarters.

"Their skills are improving and their techniques are really good," Maddie said of the NRLW players.

The civic reception was arranged by the City of Newcastle. The players were awarded the keys to the city last year, but lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes happily re-dedicated them.

"These women have been amazing ambassadors and representatives of our city all season, and it is has culminated in a phenomenal win," Cr Nelmes said in a speech.

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