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The Newtown RLFC, Australia?s first Rugby League football club and proud to be sponsored by the Sydney Airport Corporation and the Petersham RSL Club, is 97 years old on Saturday, January 8, 2005.
The club was formed at a well-attended public meeting in the Newtown Town Hall on the 8th January, 1908, and has always been the definitive "battlers" club, having known the highs and lows of the fortunes of the Rugby League game.
Newtown played in the NSW Rugby League premiership competition between 1908 and 1983, before succumbing to a long struggle with soaring costs and disadvantageous social and demographic changes in its confined inner-western catchment area. The club won first grade premierships in 1910, 1933 and 1943, and narrowly lost to Parramatta in the memorable Grand Final of 1981. Originally known as the Bluebags from 1908 to 1972, they have been called the Jets since 1973.
The Jets re-entered senior Rugby League in the NSW Rugby League Metropolitan Cup in 1991. They dominated this competition, winning first grade premierships in 1992, 1995, 1996 and 1997, and finishing as preliminary finalists in 1994 and 1998.
The Jets were invited to participate in the NSW Rugby League First Division competition in 2000, and the club is gearing up for its sixth season in the flagship competition of the NSW Rugby League, now known as the NSW Rugby League Premier League. The club has recently entered into a strategic partnership with the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, whereby the Jets will be Cronulla?s official feeder club and the Sharks? entry in the 2005 NSWRL Premier League competition. In addition to their Premier League commitments, the Jets will also be fielding a team in the 2005 NSWRL Jim Beam Cup competition to serve as their reserve grade squad.
Famous Bluebags and Jets personalities in the club?s first 97 years have included such famous Rugby League names as the Farnsworth brothers, Charles "Boxer" Russell, Arthur Folwell, Frank Hyde, Herb Narvo, Frank "Bumper" Farrell, Charles "Chicka" Cahill, Len Smith, Noel Mulligan, Dick Poole, Brian Clay, Johnny Raper, Frank Farrington, Jack Gibson, Brian "Chicka" Moore, Lionel Williamson, John Ferguson, Tom Raudonikis, Phil Gould and present-day Premier League coach and former player Colin Murphy.
Prominent Sydney business identity John Singleton has been a long-standing benefactor and supporter, and has been the club?s Official Patron since 1995.
Celebrity Jets supporters include names like actors David Wenham and Max Cullen, legendary DJ Ron E. Sparks, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Dr. Peter Jensen, punk rockers Frenzal Rhomb, Tim Freedman from The Whitlams, nightclub maestro Normie Erskine and NSW Government Ministers Andrew Refshauge and Carmel Tebbutt.
The Newtown club has been successful in attracting high profile corporate sponsorships, namely prestige business organisations such as the Sydney Airport Corporation and the Petersham RSL Club, as well as support from an array of inner western hotels and business enterprises.
This feisty old Rugby League club is certainly moving forward as the club's Centenary Year looms in 2008.