The back page of The Advertiser just won’t look the same anymore, particularly during the Rugby League season.
Brian Davey’s Inside League with The Shadow column has held pride of place there for 40 years but Mr. Davey, who turned 84 last month, has decided to call it a day.
The Advertiser’s longest-serving columnist, Mr. Davey wrote more than 1000 columns under The Shadow’s alias.
The first edition of Inside League with The Shadow was published in The Advertiser on February 22, 1973 and has been a back page staple during the winter months since.
Former Advertiser editor, Bruce Wilson, recalled discussions with Mr. Davey about a weekly column focusing on Rugby League both for the local competition and further afield.
“The column, born out of the Goannas 1972 comeback season was an instant success with Brian’s wonderful uncomplicated and free flowing style appealing to all,” Mr. Wilson said.
“Brian’s identity was a closely kept secret to add to the mystique of the column’s nom de plume, The Shadow.
“As a former editor I would like to add my congratulations and thank Brian for the wonderful working relationship and know the readers will miss him terribly.”
Mr. Davey played for the Goannas for five years until 1957 and the following year became club president, a role he held for 25 years.
He was Cessnock’s ground announcer for more than 30 years until his retirement in 2011 and is also the club’s record keeper.
Mr. Davey said he has seen “tremendous changes” in the sport over the years.
“The game is much faster, but they’re not as tough as they used to be,” he said.
And at a local level, there are a lot more imported players at the Newcastle Rugby League clubs.
“At one time they were all locals, but now they’re about three-quarters imports, and it’s the same across all the clubs,” Mr. Davey said.
“But Cessnock still have very good supporters…we could never be too disappointed about the local support.”
Retiring from his role as The Shadow means no more Sunday nights compiling his thoughts on the Cessnock and Kurri games plus the national competition, ready to fax or drop into The Advertiser office by Monday morning.
And he will finally get to keep his weekly tips a secret.
“My tipping was never any good, because I had to do it on the Sunday night for the following week,” Mr. Davey said.