IT'S an anniversary that would have gone largely unrecognised and is certainly no cause for celebration.
Ten years ago this weekend, the Newcastle Knights took on Canterbury-Bankstown in a sudden-death final at ANZ Stadium, and Newcastle's season duly ended after a 26-12 loss.
But clandestine events that unfolded both before and after the match would eventually overshadow anything that happened on the field.
In the countdown to kick-off, young forward Danny Wicks had been busy sending texts, including one that read: "If we loose [sic] I'll need to come see yaz."
Wicks was making plans to source illicit drugs, a quest he resumed within hours of Newcastle's season-ending defeat.
"Tell him he's let me down cause I've got 20 blokes waiting," Wicks told one contact via SMS, before successfully arranging to purchase 30 tablets from another source.
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Unbeknownst to Wicks, he was under surveillance by police and his phone had been tapped. Three months later he would be arrested and charged for supplying ecstasy and methylamphetamines.
His $240,000-a-season contract with Newcastle was teminated, and in October, 2011, he was sentenced to 18 months in jail.
More than three years after spending his first night behind bars, Wicks emerged to appear in 39 NRL games over two seasons for Parramatta, including a matchwinning contribution in a 28-22 victory against his former club in round seven, 2015.
His story seems somehow symbolic because it meant that, for the Knights, the first decade of the new millennium ended in turmoil.
And unfortunately for Newcastle fans, drama and controversy would become a recurring theme over the next 10 seasons as the club they supported so staunchly lurched from crisis to crisis.
On a win-loss basis, no club in the NRL has performed as poorly as the Knights over the past decade.
From 240 regular-season games, they have managed just 87 wins, three fewer than their next-worst rivals, Gold Coast Titans.
In those 10 seasons, they have made the finals only twice, in 2011 and 2013, and never won more than 12 of their 24 preliminary-round fixtures, which more often than not is the break-even point for entry into the business end of the season.
Having collected only one wooden spoon in their first 27 seasons, in 2005, they spent three successive seasons (2015-17) camped in the competition cellar.
To put the past decade in context, in the 1990s the Knights made five finals series and won one premiership, then between 2000-09 they reached the play-offs six times and celebrated another title.
While Parramatta, like Newcastle, have finished stoney motherless three times in the past decade, and also qualified for the play-offs only twice, the Eels have won 10 more games over the corresponding period.
Only Parramatta (4345) and Titans (4441) have scored fewer points than the Knights (4506) over the past decade, while Newcastle's defensive record (5682 points conceded) has been the worst in the competition.
Of course, it is impossible to divorce the Knights' game-day woes from the litany of issues they have encountered off the field.
Since 2010, the club has been under the control of four different owners. After 23 years as a community asset, it was privatised in March, 2011, by controversial tycoon Nathan Tinkler, who lasted three years before being ousted by the NRL. The governing body then managed the Knights on an interim basis for a further three years before convincing the Wests Group to fund the operation.
Just as owners have come and gone, so have coaches.
Rick Stone, replaced by seven-time premiership winner Wayne Bennett during Tinkler's reign of error, was reinstated to the hot seat in 2015 but did not see out the season.
In 2016, Nathan Brown took the helm of the incumbent wooden spooners and promptly steered them to the worst season by any club in 23 years: one win, one draw, 22 losses, 305 points for, 800 against.
A year later, the Knights became only the fifth club in history to finish last in three or more consecutive seasons. Three of those teams - Newtown, University and the Gold Coast Seagulls - are long-since defunct.
Despite a winning percentage of 25.5 per cent, Brown lasted almost four years and, at the recent press conference to announce he was leaving, echoed Bennett by claiming the club was "a basket case" when he arrived.
Both Brown and Bennett were of the opinion they left the club in better shape than they found it.
It's fair to say they each encountered turbulence that no coach could have anticipated.
In Bennett's last season, his star signing, Russell Packer, was jailed for a vicious assault, and the rugby league community was devastated when rising star Alex McKinnon suffered a broken neck that left him a quadriplegic. Then Tinkler imploded financially, leaving players and staff wondering when their monthly wages would be deposited.
Brown lost his No.1 playmaker, Jarrod Mullen, after he was banned for four years for taking a banned steroid, while a host of other players were either moved on or demanded releases.
Eventually he assembled a squad many felt was capable of ending Newcastle's six-year stint in the finals wilderness, only for them to lose eight of their last 10 games, culminating in their season-ending 54-10 drubbing from Penrith last weekend.
When Brown announced he was leaving, he insisted premiership success was "a lot closer than what people think".
"If the Knights are winning a grand final in a year or two, there'll be no happier person than me," he said.
Knights fans might be inclined to form the view that is a very big "if", after reflecting on their club's decade of despair.
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