The Sydney Airport Jets won their match against Group 11 at Parkes last Saturday by 40-4, but among the more lasting impressions for the visitors were the efficiency and professionalism of the Parkes Shire Council and the Parkes Spacemen RLFC, who made the whole weekend possible.
The Parkes RLFC home ground, Pioneer Oval, is a marvellous complex with a playing surface that would be the envy of any NRL club. Officials and players from Newtown and also from both Parramatta and the Roosters, who played in the main game on Saturday evening, were full of praise for the ground and the highly competent organisation shown in running the whole day�s program of football and entertainment.
The record club crowd of 11,452 was slightly larger than the entire Parkes town population! It was a revelation as to how far so many of the crowd had travelled and how much they value the Rugby League game. People had travelled from far western and north western locations like Menindee, Nymagee, Cobar, Lightning Ridge, Goodooga, Lake Cargelligo and Euabalong, as well as the larger centres nearer to Parkes like Dubbo, Wellington, Forbes, Orange and Cowra. One of the most heart-warming and lasting images was a group of little Aboriginal school children from Lake Cargelligo, all of them festooned in bright royal blue Newtown car stickers, yelling their support for the Sydney Airport Jets during the curtain raiser.
Flamboyant centre Jardine Bobongie, a product of the Sharks 2004 Jersey Flegg team, is developing into a cult figure at the Sharks partnership club, the Newtown Jets. Bobongie is shown here in action for Newtown against Group 11 last Saturday in Parkes.
The Brad Fittler Tribute night at the Parkes Leagues Club on the Friday night was a total triumph, with a tremendous crowd of 650 in attendance, excellent catering and a top class program of speakers. Again, no NRL club could have staged a better function and the whole event was a great credit to the Leagues Club staff, Shire Council staff and football club volunteers.
The Newtown boys were splendidly turned out and looked very sharp in their match against Group 11, and were best served by David Hall, Tommy Gemmell, John Sinisa, Geoff Johnson, David Vial, Kevin Kingston and Jardine Bobongie. Coach Colin Murphy said he was very pleased with the form of some of the younger players who are striving for places in Newtown�s teams for 2005. One of the finest sights of the weekend was the joint team photo of the Newtown and Group 11 boys taken immediately after the game. This really captured the spirit of the weekend and of all the participants. This exceptionally positive image of Rugby League football in 2005 can be seen on Newtown�s website homepage at www.newtownjets.com
The Sydney Airport Jets have two away assignments this coming weekend. On Friday night (25th February) the club�s Jim Beam Cup squad take on the Windsor Wolves at the Windsor Sports Complex at 7.30pm, while on Saturday evening (February 26th) the Newtown VB Premier League squad travels to the Express Advocate Stadium, Gosford where they will play the Newcastle Knights at 5.45pm. This is the main curtain raiser to the Knights-Sharks NRL pre-season match at 7.30pm.
A final note on the weekend � for any �know alls� and half-baked �experts� you might encounter who try to tell you about the parlous state of NSW country Rugby League football � let them go to Parkes!