Singleton United Rugby League Football Club (The Greyhounds) will celebrate their 70th anniversary on Saturday, March 18 with a ‘Red & White’ ball at the Singleton Civic Centre Auditorium.
To mark the occasion, the best players of their respective generations will be saluted and a champion team announced.
Singleton ‘United’ Rugby League Football Club was formed in 1947 as an amalgamation of teams from the area that played in the Upper Hunter competition at the time and which ultimately has become Group 21.
Over the course of 70 years, players, past and present, have contributed to the proud fabric of the club, whether it be first grade, third grade, as junior players or indeed female representatives.
It is perhaps a little known fact that Test cricket great Ray Lindwall applied to be captain-coach in the inaugural year.
Lindwall played first grade with the mighty St George Dragons during the war years and was part of the beaten 1946 grand final team.
It was reported he was anxious to return to Singleton having spent time at the Lone Pine Barracks and made many friends in the area.
However, Lindwall retired from rugby league in 1946 to concentrate on cricket and the honour of inaugural captain of the Singleton Greyhounds went to Alan Reading.
The club had a great start, winning successive premierships in 1947 and 1948 under Bill Geddes, but it was a long wait until they tasted success again.
Tough, uncompromising front-row forward Pat Kelly took the club to premierships in 1971, 1973 and 1974.
Lean times were to follow again, until 1990, when the team went through undefeated to claim the Clayton Cup.
In 2017 the ladies game has added another dimension to the club, with the introduction of ‘full contact’ nine-a-side competition for the first time.
A potential pathway for the ladies to represent the Jillaroos awaits and a National-based competition is not too far away.
The strength of the junior club, especially in modern times, has provided a pathway for those following an NRL dream or to go on and become a senior grade player with the club.
The most decorated player to come through the ranks is Steve Simpson who played in a 1996 first-grade grand final with Singleton whilst still a 16 year old.
He went on to play 216 NRL games (1999-2010) with the Newcastle Knights, 13 Origin games for NSW and seven games for Australia.
The late Robert ‘Chickie’ Crampton, from the inaugural 1947 side, is long regarded by elder statesmen of the game locally as one of the best players to ever pull on a Singleton jumper.
Comparing players from different era’s over these past 70 years is a difficult proposition given how much the game has evolved in that timeframe.
Coming up with a champion team over that time is an even greater task but some of the Singleton Old Boys have done their level best to try and achieve just this, a team of Singleton’s best.
Unfortunately, some of the club’s rich history has been misplaced or remains silent as administrations have come and gone with no dedicated club historian during their existence.
So whoever is afforded the honour of being saluted on Saturday evening as Singleton’s best, it is going to create conversation and debate and that’s one of the strengths of the game of rugby league generally – it’s the game that keep’s on giving.