Our Newcastle Jets are in the A-League grand final against Melbourne Victory, can you believe it? It has been just over ten years since we last were in the big dance, so let’s look at how much has changed in ten years.
Firstly, let’s look at what 2008 was like in Newcastle.
- Kevin Rudd was the Prime Minister of Australia
- You could walk from Queens Wharf Brewery to Hunter Street Mall via a footbridge.
- You could still catch a train into Newcastle station and shop at David Jones.
- Opal cards weren’t around, so it was still bus fares and paper tickets. In Newcastle, buses still had three digits, and you could go to the shops on one bus without changing.
- The Store was still open and was owned by Con Constantine who also owned the Newcastle Jets. Constantine was stripped of the Jets’ licence in 2010.
Speaking of owners, Nathan Tinkler Huge then took over and promised Newcastle the world. Tinkler was a prolific businessman, specialising in mining and owned Patinack Farm, a horse racing stud. Newcastle believed in him, but he had plans to build a coal loader at Kooragang and got the community onside before he unveiled them by then purchasing the Newcastle Knights. Again, Tinkler promptly promised an NRL premiership within three years by bringing Wayne Bennett in to coach the team.
Nathan Tinkler eventually went bankrupt and put the club into voluntary administration, so the Newcastle Jets were looking for a new owner again.
Enter Chinese business, Ledman Group, a leading LED screen manufacturer. Ledman Group bought the Newcastle Jets in June 2016.
Ernie Merrick was appointed the coach in May 2017, replacing Mark Jones, who was the Jets’ assistant coach who took over after Scott Miller was sacked in September 2016. Ernie has turned a team that were wooden spooners in season 2016/17 to potential premiers for season 2017/18 and restored faith in a city’s sporting pride.
Now, the Newcastle Jets’ faithful (Including yours truly) have something to cheer about, a grand final berth and the grand final is in their hometown. Tickets sold out in minutes, member allocations were exhausted within hours. The Football Family allocations were also exhausted within minutes of going on sale. Flights to and from Melbourne are booked out and finding accommodation in Newcastle is like searching for a needle in a haystack.
Football Federation Australia is working closely with broadcasters and Newcastle City Council to set up live sites so the locals who missed out can join in the festivities. Those details will be finalised by the end of the week, and I will be sharing that information on Life + Style.