Hunter Mariners

Hunter Mariners

Infobox rugby league club
clubname = Hunter Mariners

fullname = Hunter Mariners Rugby League Football Club
nickname =
short name =
founded = 1997
exited = 1997
ground = Topper Stadium
capacity = 11,000 [cite web|url=|title=The Gardens|publisher=Australian Stadiums|accessdate=2008-03-23]
ceo =
coach =
captain =
league = Super League
season = 1997
position = 6th of 10
premierships = 0
premiershipyears =
minorpremierships = 0
minorpremiershipyears =
runnerups = 0
runnerupyears =
spoons = 0
homejersey = Hunter Mariners home jersey 1997.svg
The Hunter Mariners were an Australian rugby league club based in the Hunter Valley region's largest city, Newcastle. Hunter was formed in mid 1995 and was later disbanded at the end of 1997. The club was formed because of the Super League war, which was the rivalry between the traditional Australian Rugby League competition and the new media driven Super League competition. The team competed in the inaugural and only Super League season in 1997, as well as that year's World Club Challenge.

The Mariners faced much adversity in the Newcastle region because of the Australian Rugby League's Newcastle Knights team being already well-established in the region.cite web|url=|title=Rugby League History - Hunter Mariners|first=Sean|last=Fagen|accessdate=2008-06-13] The club played its home games at Topper Stadium and missed out on the finals of the 1997 Super League season, but made the grand final of the World Club challenge. The team was overshadowed by the Newcastle Knights who won the ARL competition and were admitted into the 1998 re-united competition. The Mariners were disbanded after being left out of the new competition because they believed that the Hunter region could not support two entities.



The New South Wales Rugby League competition (NSWRL) had been formed in 1908 as the first rugby league competition in Australia. There was a Newcastle based club in the first two seasons of the Sydney based competition, but they eventually left to form their own Newcastle Rugby League competition. It was not until 1988 that another Newcastle based team was admitted into the NSWRL. In 1995, the Australian Rugby League (ARL) took control of the competition amid the beginning of the Super League war. It was then that News Limited began proposing and deliberating a rival rugby league competition and the twenty teams which competed in the 1995 ARL season were split between the Super League and ARL competitions. cite book | author=Whiticker, Alan & Collis, Ian | title= The History of Rugby League Clubs
publisher=New Holland Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd | year=2004| id=ISBN 1-74110-075-5

The Newcastle Knights, the Newcastle based team formed in 1988, aligned itself with the ARL and the new Super League competition was left without a Newcastle based team. The Super League then established their own Newcastle based team. The financially successful "Newcastle Wests Leagues Club" was given a licence to form a club for the 1996 inaugural Super League season.

In July 1995, it was officially announced that the Newcastle based team would be called the "Hunter Mariners". However, in the middle of 1995, members of the Newcastle Wests Leagues Club did not want the club involved in the rebel competition, and the club held a meeting after 5,000 fans signed a petition objecting to the club’s involvement. After this, and when local unions became involved in the protest, the Leagues Club abandoned the licence. The club then became owned and supported by News Limited.

In early 1996, the Hunter Mariners club was officially launched, without a home ground, but on that same day the Super League was banned from running its rebel competition. Originally the Mariners were allowed to use the Newcastle Knights home ground Marathon Stadium by the Showground Trust, but the Supreme Court found that no rights to play here. The club eventually played at Toppers Stadium, and used over $1 million dollars to upgrade facilities at the stadium. After an appeal in mid 1996, the Super League was officially allowed to run the competition, which would begin in 1997.

uper League season 1997

The Mariners lost their first three games of the premiership season, their first a narrow loss on their home ground. However, after the first loss at home, the Mariners were able to win seven consecutive matches at Topper Stadium. Despite this home ground record, Mariners were never able to win away from home. They lost all nine matches played away from their stadium, and subsequently missed out on the finals for the Super League season.

The Mariners were able to produce some representative players throughout their one season. Noel Goldthorpe and Robbie Ross were selected in the Super League Tri-Series and Goldthorpe scored the winning points for New South Wales in the final of that series. Tyran Smith, Tony Iro and Kevin Iro were all selected for the New Zealand representative team. While mid-year find Brett Kimmorley was the club’s sole selection for Australia in the Super League test series against Great Britain.

Records and statistics

Individual records

Scott Hill and Tony Stone share the record of playing every eighteen games for the Mariners, being the players with the most first grade games. Nick Zisti, however is the Mariner's most prolific record holder, with the most first grade points for the team with 76 points. This encompasses the most tries for the team with nine as well as most goals with twenty. Zisti has the most tries and goals in a match with three and five scored respectively in a match. The Mariners have only had three representatives, Robbie Ross and Noel Goldthorpe represented New South Wales in the Super League Tri-Series while Brett Kimmorley represented Australia in the Super League test matches.

Team honours

Their home ground success, winning seven from nine matches, was never able to attract decent figure crowds, their highest reaching 7,719. Compared with the Super League competition average of 12,347 and the nearby Newcastle Knights had an average of 14,257 home attendances. With crowds at these levels, the Mariners were unsuccessfully competing in the Newcastle area.


External links

* [ RL1908 profile of Hunter Mariners]

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