Last Tuesday another shining light in Cessnock's Junior League history went out when former Cessnock identity Phil Burke passed away.
Phil was one of the many rugby league devotees who helped to establish the game for the very young in this city.
During the early 1950's the senior league was so obsessed with the success it was having in the Newcastle competition that scant regard was focused on any of the emerging players just commencing to play the game. In fact, apart from school football where each of the primary schools would have a run against each other on sports day, no other games were available for them in which to participate.
This situation persisted until a group of league enthusiasts formed the Minor League, who played each other Saturday mornings. Phil Burke was one of this group, who along with Albert Hindmarsh established the North End club. At the same time, South Cessnock with Bobby Hodge at the helm and the Aberdare Warriors made up enough teams to form a competition.
As the status of the Minor League grew, other parts of the city formed teams such as West Cessnock, under the tutelage of Arthur Ingham and Paxton representing the "bush".
All of this activity went on to form the nucleus of Cessnock Junior League and it was the likes of Phil Burke and his mates who were responsible. When pioneers of the game of rugby league in Cessnock are mentioned, Phil should be remembered as one of those who played a significant role.
In the February 2 edition of the Advertiser, I was surprised to read Rod Doherty state that he was an advocate for jobs in the area and that he supported job-creating initiatives during his time on council.
This is very different to his actions in April 2016 when he voted against an extension to our quarry at Black Hill and the jobs that it provides. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story, Rod.
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