Newcastle Rugby League: Grand return for Goannas as Cessnock turns black and gold

As a child Karen Nickerson remembers when all things Cessnock Leagues Club and Goannas footy ran out of her family home.

Her late father Ray was a founding member of the venue and also sat on rugby league committees.

It's little wonder why the sport runs deep in Nickerson's veins and why she's looking forward to Sunday's Newcastle Rugby League grand final at McDonald Jones Stadium when her beloved Cessnock take on Western Suburbs for the 2019 title.

"Football has been life," Nickerson said.

"The club for a couple of years worked out of our family home at East Cessnock. We'd have people come and knock on the door saying they wanted to become members.

"For many years our home phone number didn't get transfered over to the club so there'd be calls saying 'can you send my husband home, he's been done there for X number of hours'.

"Between my mum, myself and my sister we could recite the phone number off by heart to transfer them back to here [the leagues club]."

Following her father's death in 2016, Nickerson and sister Cherie Douglas "have picked up the reins and ran with footy and club".

Nickerson as a Cessnock Leagues Club director and Douglas as secretary of the Goannas.

Douglas has been in overdrive this week organising all sorts of bits and pieces to mark Cessnock's return to a first grade decider after a five-year absence.

There was the team dinner at Cessnock Leagues Club on Wednesday, which featured a reunion of The HiFi's two surviving members who performed their legendary hit Don't Knock The Nocks.

Grand final supporter shirts were ordered, made and collected on Thursday with retiring player Brendan Hlad and Goannas teammate Kori Barber modelling at Flanagan's Menswear.

A couple of doors down Vincent Street and sponsors Bombora Surf, owned by Debbie and Steve Blain whose son Rod played in the club's last premiership in 2003, have decked out their shopfront in black and gold balloons, old Cessnock jerseys and even a cuddly Goannas mascot.

Kane Bradley, who played in the halves during that most recent title 16 years ago, also had an uncle Gordon who lined up in the success prior in 1977.

"I pretty much remember everything about it [2003]," Bradley said. "We had a great bunch of blokes and we still get along now. The town had just been hanging for it."

On the way out of town, near Goannas headquarters at Cessnock Sportsground, there's a sign.

"Cessnock Goannas. Your town, tour team. Next game Cessnock v Wests. Away. Sunday."

This story Newcastle Rugby League: Grand return for Goannas as Cessnock turns black and gold first appeared on Newcastle Herald.