Born out of the fun and camaraderie enjoyed on the school playing fields against Barker, Waverley, Kings, Riverview and the like, Graham Robinson, Warwick Evans and Forbes Pratt founded the Knox Old Boys Rugby Club in 1959. They had no idea then that the club would sale amazing heights and experience some hard lows.
The club has culminated in the past 10 years since 2002 to feature and win no less than 20 premierships in this time. The highlight in this golden period is winning the 2005 and 2009 Kentwell Cups which also featured during a period where Knox rugby fought it’s way up from 4th division and being the only team in the history of rugby in Australia to win consecutive Divisions in Consecutive years to now play in the First Division of Suburban Rugby.
A community of grass roots rugby played in Sydney by over 5000 players each weekend and the toughest Amateur league in the Southern Hemisphere.
Two of the men who made a huge impact on the club are the legendary “Dancing Dave” Hartnell and Phil “Twinkletoes” Tuck. Dave devoted his life to Knox Old Boys for over 30 years and Phil Tuck gave up a Grade and possibly Waratah selection to save the club when it was at risk of folding at the beginning of the 80s.
Another man who has also seen it all from the 60s to today is the Club’s patron, Ian McPherson. “Mr Mac” has played, coached and inspired many players for 50 years.
Ian “Big Kingie” King was a player all through the 1970s and then supported four of the next generation’s 1st Graders (his three sons and his nephew). Kingie has served as President and is currently 1st Grade Manager (and Life Member).
Mrs Marilynn Buchanan has been truly invaluable as the Club’s secretary through the lowest and highest of times. Marilynn is now enjoying retirement in Nelson Bay1
Interestingly and importantly, a succession of front rowers have played major roles in leading the Club with Richard Martyr, Rory Scott and Bryn Robertson – all tough as nails on the field and inspirational as Club Presidents.
This also is true of Jon Bonwick who, when President and Club Captain, played centre and flanker despite really being a front rower.
The baton has now been passed to an ex Shore boy Nick Hamley. He has had an amazing start to his tenure with winning the Kentwell, Barbour and Club Championships for 2009. Although not a Knox Boy he was the epitome of a humble servant to this club and is still to this day.
Knox’s story would not be complete without mention of the great Barra Brui fire of 1999 where our clubhouse of 25 years was gutted by vandals. But thanks to the efforts of Grahame Pratt and Dave “Spider” Uttley, most of the “history making” photos were redeveloped and also a great number of fellow Subbies clubs volunteered vital training equipment.
Knox has had a number of Suburban Rugby representative players including Robert Fitzsimons (66), Roger Knight (66), Dan Hickson (80-82), Phil Tuck (80-85), Lester Stump (82), Bruce Peden (83), Scott Laycock (87), Andy Martyr (90), Stu Reed (90), Chris Waite (96), Guy Wilkonson (97), Richie Lingard (03), Hamish Bayliss (04-05), Mike Smith (06), Oliver Sheer (06,07), Stewart Graham (05-07), Rohan “Mammoth” Cook (07), Paul Nash (07).
However, arguably the Club’s most valuable contribution to Australian Rugby are the three Old Boys players who went on to serve worthy roles as officials. Two players became chairman of the Australian Rugby Union – Ross Turnbull and David Clark and Ian Ross is currently the Chairman of NSW Suburban Rugby.
Being dropped two division 4 in 2000 almost ruined the club as a merger with close rival almost came to fruition. One week out from the 2001 season there were 7 players at preseason and it was decided on that night the club would do everything to stay as an entity. Guys like Ian Frame and Jon Bonwick manned the phones and gathered some ex players and some fresh blood.
In 2002 the club had risen from the ashes to steam roll 3 teams in division 4 and the fight back had begun…. In those history making days Club Coach Michael Kelynack brought a very professional approach to training, emphasizing to players that winning a premiership starts in February. Mike gave training structure and purpose and introduced the First XV jersey to motivate players to want to play at the highest level.
In 2003, we were in 3rd division having just smashed 4th division and won 3 premierships in 2002 the club had just one sponsor The Blue Gum Hotel and there was lucky to be 5 grand in the bank. There was very little talk back then of 1st Division and 2nd Division seemed a distant goal as the footy was tough enough and playing the likes of Blacktown and Blue Mountains now seem a distant memory.
In 2004 we again rose to the challenge and made it back into 2nd division playing some ding dong battles against Hornsby, Newport and Campbeltown. Names such as Jimmy Hunter, Richie Lingard, Steve Brown, Hamish Bayliss, The Mule, Big Figgo, Charlie Pearce, Boo, Toddy and Tim Cussell start ringing in the ears as old stalwarts such as Coops, Scotty Robbo, Rory Scott, Steve Jolly.
2004 was another amazing year as we amassed over 1000 club championship points, won 1st grade, 2nd grade and had a date with destiny in 1st division and the great unknown. Winning 2nd division and heading into 1st Division was a very scary time for the club. We lost many players after the 2002 grand final either through injury or travel and retirement. Heading into the preseason with a new coach Pete Bromley, I remember him saying to us “where are all our players gone from last year” We re-built first grade again and being in first division did not phase us in the slightest as we played massive teams with talented players.
The 2005 Kentwell team consisted of many club greats Burnsy, Cuss, Banga, Toddy, Greggo and we blooded in new heads like Ogs, Dan Morelli, Will Sweeney, Stew Graham, Jeremy Farrell. We won that year and beat a St Pat’s team that had the wood on us all year. We were a team first and wanted to win for each other. We won the clubs first ever Kentwell Cup and claim to be the only rugby club in the history of the game to have won 4 consecutive divisions in 4 consecutive seasons. Again the club lost players and we somehow found new ones in the likes of Nick Boyle, Mike McNair and Adam Carroll.
We began to look overseas for some assistance and found Tom the Pom who was an amazing talent even though we now can’t get him to leave the country. In 2006 we played an immense Drummoyne and lost in the Second Grand final. In our second year in division 1 we came first in the Club Champs, this was a truly amazing second year for a club that had emerged from 4th Division. Club Legend Bonners took hold of Seconds and started an amazing run of premierships for Second Grade led by some of the best in James “Flash” Gordon, Cairnsy, Mammoth, Benny Exton, Ben Mar, Figgo,Obi, Poochie, Macca, Babsy and Rubber man.
We have also saw some new blood emerge in 2007 like Chuck “Tito” Anderson and Sam Renny who played in that colts grand final of 2007 with Myles Taylor, Riley Field, Cobby and a young spritely Addision Hunter. Again we made second in the club champs.
In 2008 we saw a big drop off in playing numbers and we thought the journey may have been stalled. Seconds kept the winning formula with Bangsy and Obi at the Helm and we recruited big Andy Barham for 10 seasons, Adam Renny and co returned from Bathurst and we welcomed Eddie Roach and the Sponge returned for a second year. Firsts were hurt again with retirements and travel but through the life blood of Colts managed to keep things going and did not make the finals for the first time in 7 seasons.
Season 2009 rolled around and we knew we wanted 1st grade back on the winning circle. Alan Manning came down with Kori Chan “Pele”, we introduced ourselves to the “Brothers” at touch and came second in the Bondi Tens. This season the cattle were thin on the ground but we managed to win the club championships for the second time in 1st division and won the Barbour cup for the first time in the clubs history and won back Ross Kentwell with a team made up of all cultures and backgrounds.
To have Matt Petre announce that this is the best club he has ever played for and the best team environment he has been involved in speaks volumes for the entire club and management. Season 2010 Saw us blood in a new group from the successful Colts team from 2009. rob Crawford, Dave Maxton, Jeff Cottee, Alex Cobb, Addison Hunter, Aaron Price all came into Kentwell and the year started where we left off. It was to be Peter Bromleys final year coaching the Kentwell team after 6 seasons and the team won the first 10 games in a row. A late season stumble meant we played for our lives against Campbelltown at Deceyville to play Drummoyne in the 2010 Grand final. With seconds to go Mammoth (Rohan Cook) stole the Ctown hearts as we scored a length of the field try to seal a magnificent win and our 6th first grade premiership decider in 8 seasons. It wasn’t to be for us as we lost to an amaing Drummoyne outfit but we partied just as hard and sadly our Burke Cup team could not make it 4 premierships in 5 seasons.
Season 2011 saw a new era which did not start well. We sacked the new head coach and brought in Club Hero Steve Brown. A challenging year with new faces and changes to a tried and true formula. For the first time in 10 seasons first grade did not make the finals series and 2nd grade lost in a minor semi. This season saw many old heads return for 5th grade and try and win a grade the club had never won before. Sam Renny gathered troops and we lost the game by 3 points and revenge was on the teams mind.
Season 2012 was a challenge to say the least. Key injuries to players like we had never seen. Players playing 3-5 games a weekend and putting their bodies on the line for the club. Many overseas lads came to our aid putting their hands up to assist coaches and their new mates at the club.
Whilst a tough year we shocked all by winning 3 grand finals in Once special day. This had not been achieved for ten years before that and what a special day for those that attended. Colts were just magnificent with wolfie defining the season playing colts and many games in grade. We won the Whiddon Cup captained by club stalwart Sammy Cooper and Coached by the Commodore Bryn. It was the tonic needed to bring home our first Whiddon Cup in 50 seaosons. We also managed to clean up Iggies in the 5th grade grand final and get revenge for the year prior and boy did they party hard.
Season 2013 started with much promise and a colts team ready to go back to back and retain the title. First Grade was coached again by Steve Brown and gathered a squad capable of making finals footy and this team showed glimpses through the year of what might have been. Big Jim Bob returned and the human wrecking ball created havoc to most teams. We welcomed many new faces through the year such as Hightower and Anzac, who created a great atmosphere and camaraderie.
Third grade came together featuring the ever impressive dynamic duo of the Rennies and they won another season undefeated playing in the Whiddon Cup. A feat truly worth recognising.
Colts won the Barbour Cup for the Second year in a row captained by our future Matty Woodcock and coached by Jayden Nisbett and Robbie Frame.
The season was saddened by the loss of Lachlan Robertson, youngest brother of the 4 Robbos. He died after a gallant battle with Cancer. On August 16th the club remembered him and raised over $100,000 for the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse with over 40 old cats who assembled to play with each other in Brothers 1V Brothers. This will no live on with the Lachie Robertson Cup to be played annually with a gathering of retired club legends taking on Iggies Legends.
2014 sees a new Presidend in Bernie O’Bree taking the reigns from Nick Hamley who worked tirelessly for 5 years at the helm delivering many premierships and guiding the club even higher. Bernie brings a professionalism and sense of fun and still playing at the ripe old age of just shy of 50.
Season 2015 saw Kentwell feature in the grand final and was a challenging year for depth. We leg Balmain until the dying moments to lose a chance to win our 3rd title in 10 seasons. Mike Cross won coach of the year and fitting for his service to our club.
2016 was year of the colties. Robbie Frame has been Mr Colt for 6 seasons and they won the Barbour Cup undefeated for the first time ever. A tribute to Robbie Frame.
2017 saw a rebuild. Retirements and changes meant Robbie Frame stepping up into the Kentwell Coaching role. It was a challenging season for the club however a time where players stepped in playing 2-3 games a week. Chris Chapman and Hamish McGilvray came out of retirement to assist the club and guys like Jasper Tailor played like men possessed. It was the Judd Cup we wanted and that we won. A team of old Stalwarts picked up the final piece of silverware the club had not won in first division. Even Hugh Jackman got in on the act.
This is a special club run by special people. We embrace anyone and any race. It’s a pleasure to be a part of such an iconic club and have the values that we do.
The below legends have been inducted into the club as life members. People who have given countless hours and effort to running this wonderful club. We thank you and recognise you for your work
2004 Dave Hartnell
2005 Jim Graham
2006 Phil Tuck
2007 Ian King
2009 Ian Frame
2010 Graham Pratt
2015 Richard Martyr
2015 David Uttley