Abermain to select team of the century for celebrations

What Ray Foster doesn’t know about rugby league in Abermain probably isn’t worth knowing anyway.

From premiership dates and Australian representatives to “the bloke who owned the real estate business fish and chip shop and lived down the road” - Foster has got it all covered.

“It’s just Abermain,” the proud president of Abermain Rugby League Club since 1990 said.

“I love the community here.”

But as rugby league fans across the country prepare for tonight’s NRL season opener Foster is busy getting ready for a celebration of a different kind.

Abermain will mark its 100th year in 2013 and the Hawks have a string of events coming up in the next few weeks.

It kicks off this Saturday at 4.30pm with a trial match against Kurri Kurri under 23s at the Hawks’ home ground of Howe Park, located at the end of William Street.

This will be followed by a club reunion at the Criterion Hotel on March 16 with dinner, drinks and an auction from 6pm.

And on March 23 the clock will be wound back to when it all began with a replication of the club’s first match against Branxton in 1913. 

“One hundred years ago Abermain played Branxton at the Albion Ground ­[where Maitland Showground is now],” Foster said.

“That was our first game of rugby league because Abermain had a rugby union team before that.

“Branxton won that match 8-5 and there were five teams in the competition – Abermain, Branxton, Singleton, East End and Kurri Kurri.”

Foster said at one stage three rugby league teams existed in Abermain – Central, the Bend and Mayfield.

And in 1918 they were part of a Newcastle competition including Horseshoe Bend, Broadmeadow and two Western Suburbs teams.

Australian representatives to have played at Abermain include Billy Hamilton and Gary Sullivan while George Hunter skippered NSW.

Abermain will select a team of the century, out of premiership winning sides of 1932, 1953 and 1978, which will be announced at the reunion dinner on March 16.

Tickets are available from the Criterion Hotel. 

The season proper for Abermain starts on April 6 and they will be out to go back-to-back in the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby League competitions after taking out D-grade in 2012 and breaking a 34-year premiership drought at the club. 

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