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? The Newtown RLFC, Australia?s first Rugby League football club, is 98 years old on Sunday, January 8, 2006.
? The club was formed at a public meeting in the Newtown Town Hall on the 8th January, 1908 and has always been known as the definitive battlers club, having experienced 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 football 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 seventh season in the flagship competition of the NSW Rugby League, now known as the NSW Rugby League VB Premier League. The club has recently entered into a strategic partnership with the famous Sydney Roosters DRLFC, whereby the Jets will be the Roosters? official feeder club and the Roosters? entry in the 2006 NSWRL VB Premier League competition. In addition to their VB Premier League commitments, the Jets will also be fielding a team in the 2006 NSWRL Jim Beam Cup competition to serve as their reserve grade squad.
? Famous Bluebags and Jets personalities in the club?s first 98 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, Colin Murphy, Phil Gould and Craig Field. Prominent Sydney business identity John Singleton has been a long-standing benefactor and supporter, and has been the club?s Official Patron since 1995 and a Life Member since 2005.
? Celebrity Jets supporters comprise an eclectic list of names such as actors David Wenham and Tony Barry, Tim Brunero from ?Big Brother?, legendary WSFM DJ Ron E. Sparks, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Dr. Peter Jensen, punk rockers Frenzal Rhomb, Tim Freedman from The Whitlams, entertainer Normie Erskine, NSW District Court Judge Stephen Norrish and the NSW Minister for Education and Training, Carmel Tebbutt.
? The Newtown club had a successful season on the field in 2005, with the VB Premier League team reaching the preliminary final and the Jim Beam Cup side making the semi-finals also. Everything points to another big year for the Jets as the oldest club in Australian rugby league moves one year closer to its centenary in 2008.
Photo caption: The great Frank Hyde is the Newtown club?s oldest-living former first grade player.