In 1915, the people of our region were asked again to join the war effort. Young men from across the greater Newcastle area signed up in droves. They became the 35th infantry battalion of the Australian Army and were dubbed 'Newcastle's Own'.
Through two world wars, the battalion is recognised for 14 battle honours, and their community provided donations and food to support their own in Europe and then in New Guinea. The 35th battalion's colour patch was teal and brown.
More recently, the region has adopted the much loved blue and red colours for business, sport and community, but the teal and brown has remained for some.
While it is not my intention to draw comparisons of the horrors of last century wars with sport in 2020, I was reminded by some of the region's sporting and cultural history custodians of the relevance in the colour patch and its close association with community unity.
This month, a group of young sportspeople made their way south to compete in one of Australia's premier sporting competitions.
It is the first time in 22 years that our region has presented a representative team into the Shute Shield. The Shute Shield is a semi-professional rugby union premier grade club competition founded in 1923. The NHRU Wildfires presented three teams in 2020 - premier grade, colts and women's teams.
Not one player is being paid. Not one coach is being paid. There might be just enough strappings to see out most of the 13-round season, but all teams wear kits that proudly represent 'Newcastle's Own'. The uniform kits are teal and brown, but they also include other important symbols that I believe represents our region's passion for unity.
During the pandemic, the loss of sport (among many other economic, social and health challenges) has affected the community in ways we could never have imagined
Despite this, our region has been united in its common purpose to create a path for local rugby players. A call went out to help get the Wildfires back on the park earlier this year and, with the support of many local business people, enough was raised to get three teams together. Most of the $60,000 raised is needed for kits, insurance and transport to and from games. Realistically, most clubs need about a quarter of million dollars for such an effort.
We should be very proud of our own on and off the park.