Kiama Knights first grade and under 9 premiers to celebrate success 50 years on

The Kiama Knights first grade (left) and under 9s are both celebrating the 50th annversray of their 1969 premierships.
The Kiama Knights first grade (left) and under 9s are both celebrating the 50th annversray of their 1969 premierships.

Fifty years ago this year the Kiama Rugby League Club under 9s claimed premiership glory.

Something their Knights' first grade counterparts were also able to emulate, albeit in a grand final replay.

The two title-winning teams are staging a 50th anniversary reunion on Sunday, August 11 at the Kiama Showground.

The reunion will coincide with the Knights' home game with the Nowra Bomaderrry Jets.

James Regan, who played hooker, in the successful under 9s premiers has been working on the gathering.

"We were the only two Kiama sides to win premierships that year," he said.

The junior Knights took their grand final win 3-nil over rivals Shellharbour, a side that had dominated the age division in previous seasons.

"They dominated the under 7s and 8s and most of the 9s year and expected to win the grand final," he said.

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"We had a big guy on our team Mark Lavender and we've heard the Sharks' game plan was to kick off to Mark and hit him with everything in an attempt to intimidate him and put him off his game for the rest of the match.


The Kiama Knights under 9 premiers with manager Bruce Browne (back left) and coach Phil Greenaway (back row from left) Mark Witheridge, Robert Stead, Mark Lavender, Shane Tierney. Middle row: Gary Lee, Colin Campbell, Tony Snelling, Ian Gould, Robert Roy. Front row: Neil Piper, James Regan, Tony Browne, Wayne Filmer and Steve Simpson.

The Kiama Knights under 9 premiers with manager Bruce Browne (back left) and coach Phil Greenaway (back row from left) Mark Witheridge, Robert Stead, Mark Lavender, Shane Tierney. Middle row: Gary Lee, Colin Campbell, Tony Snelling, Ian Gould, Robert Roy. Front row: Neil Piper, James Regan, Tony Browne, Wayne Filmer and Steve Simpson.

"The only thing it didn't work.

"They kicked off to Mark alright, but he got the ball scooted around the outside of them and scored from the kick off.

"We then held on to record a memorable 3-nil win.

"It's still something we stir the Shellharbour guys about - their great game plan."

The Kiama Knights 1969 first grade premiers (back row from left) Bert Reed (manager), Bob Burns, Ray Cowden, Brian Dore, Ron Luff, Jim Lymbery, Bob Walker, Kan Condon, John Jolliffe, Eddie Lovegrove (treasurer). Front row: Kevin Reed (ball boy), Jim Hennessy, Rex Browning, Trevor McDonald, Ken Gentle (captain-coach), Graham Ditton, Jim Gunning. Absent: Terry King. Team mascot was Peter Gentle.

The Kiama Knights 1969 first grade premiers (back row from left) Bert Reed (manager), Bob Burns, Ray Cowden, Brian Dore, Ron Luff, Jim Lymbery, Bob Walker, Kan Condon, John Jolliffe, Eddie Lovegrove (treasurer). Front row: Kevin Reed (ball boy), Jim Hennessy, Rex Browning, Trevor McDonald, Ken Gentle (captain-coach), Graham Ditton, Jim Gunning. Absent: Terry King. Team mascot was Peter Gentle.

Lavender went on to play first grade both with the Knights and Dapto and growing up was a brilliant athlete.

At one stage he held the world under 16 long jump record for a number of years and was only broken by legendary US Olympian Carl Lewis.

"It's going to be great to get the guys back together," Mr Regan said.

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"Even some of the Shellharbour guys are coming."

Knights under 9 player James Regan's memorabilia from the 1969 premiership.

Knights under 9 player James Regan's memorabilia from the 1969 premiership.

Another highlight of the grand final win was the side was presented with its premiership pennants after the game by legendary Nowra Warriors player Tony Branson, who by that stage had signed with the mighty St George Dragons and had represented Country, NSW and Australia.

Branson played five tests on the 1967-68 Kangaroo Tour against Great Britain and France.

"He even signed my premiership pennant which I still have," Mr Regan said.

"Having someone like Tony there was a big deal."

And 50 years on Mr Branson, who now is back living in Nowra, will also attend the reunion as a special guest.

"It will be special to have Tony there as well," Mr Regan said.

"I contacted him and he was thrilled that someone even still remembered him.

The Kiama Knights under 9 premiers celebrate their 3-nil grand final win over Shellharbour.

The Kiama Knights under 9 premiers celebrate their 3-nil grand final win over Shellharbour.

"At the time, for us as young kids, to have him make the presentation was huge.

"It was something I certainly always remembered."

The pair crossed paths again in the late '70s early '80s when they undertook a coaching course together.

Mr Regan went on to play hooker in the top grade with the Knights and Sharks before making the move to rugby union with the Kiama Cows in the 1980s, playing fly-half or inside centre.

Kiama Knights under 9 premiership player James Regan proudly shows off his blazer with his father Neville.

Kiama Knights under 9 premiership player James Regan proudly shows off his blazer with his father Neville.

Mr Regan came from a strong league family, his father Neville played half-back in lower grades at Eastern Suburbs winning a premiership in 1949.

His father also captain-coached both Kiama and Jamberoo over the years.

Jamberoo's win over Kiama in the Group Seven grand final in 2017 was the first time the two sides had met in a grand final since 1951 when his father was actually coaching Kiama.

That year they lost the decider 15-5.

The previous year he had coached Jamberoo to the decider but Kiama had taken the crown 2-nil in a grand final replay after the sides had earlier played out a 5-all draw.

The Kiama under 9s side was coached by Phil Greenaway and managed by Bruce Browne and included Mark Witheridge, Robert Stead, Mark Lavender, Shane Tierney, Gary Lee, Colin Campbell, Tony Snelling, Ian Gould, Robert Roy, Neil Piper, James Regan, Tony Browne, Wayne Filmer and Steve Simpson.

The Kiama Knights under 9 premiers blazer pocket.

The Kiama Knights under 9 premiers blazer pocket.

The Kiama Knights under 9 premiership pennant.

The Kiama Knights under 9 premiership pennant.

The same year, 1969, the Kiama Knights first grade claimed the Group Seven premiership with a 14-2 win over Bomaderry in a grand final replay at Shellharbour after the sides had been locked 2-all in the first season decider.

The Kiama side was captain-coached by Ken Gentle, while Bert Reed was manager and included Bob Burns, Ray Cowden, Brian Dore, Ron Luff, Jim Lymbery, Bob Walker, Kan Condon, John Jolliffe, Jim Hennessy, Rex Browning, Trevor McDonald, Graham Ditton, Jim Gunning and Terry King. The ball boy was Kevin Reed, while Peter Gentle was team mascot.

Players from both the Kiama and Bomaderry teams are expected to attend the senior reunion.

The reunion will be held on Sunday, August 11 with players gathering at the Pavillion from 1pm.

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