The Maitland Blacks proudly proclaim themselves the family club and one family in particular epitomises that justifiable tag.
The Mahony family headed by Blacks’ game record holder and life member Grant is not only Maitland rugby royalty, they were there at the beginning of the club’s highly successful netball branch as well.
Grant, who played 506 grade games for the Blacks, has been followed into the playing ranks by sons Nathan and Lachlan and daughter Alex, who was a foundation member of the netball club 10 years ago.
While Grant’s wife Allison has not donned the famous uniform she was part of establishing the Rugby Blacks Netball Club while on the Maitland Junior Rugby committee.
“There was no choice but to join the netball team when we entered 10 years ago,” Alex said as the family reflected on it’s unique role in this year’s rugby 140th anniversary and netball 10th anniversary celebrations.
Alex and a group of school mates formed the first Blacks netball team and as they say the rest is history.
The club now has 20 teams, with 200 active players, in every grade from under-8s to A-grade and had four teams in grand final action on the weekend, with Black Storm winning the B2 title and Black Belles taking out the 10 years division two title.
And the numbers are growing each year, with the netball a key part of the club on-field and off.
“It was an idea that was thrown around the junior rugby committee and we went through with it,” Allison said.
“It’s huge now there are Maitland Blacks jackets everywhere. They are all related to Maitland Blacks family’s or friends.
Alex said as the netball club’s longest standing member she was tempted to try to beat her father’s game record.
“If I do move from Maitland I’ll have to fly in to play games to try and beat Dad’s record, but it will be a gough,” Alex said.
She may also struggle to match Grant’s record of 11 premierships from 11 grand finals.
“I’ve played in seven grand finals and not won one. I’m going to keep playing until I win at least won.”
Grant was followed into rugby by sons Nathan and Lachlan. Nathan played first grade before moving to Adelaide, where his first move was to hook up with the university rugby club, who also happen to wear black.
Alex was tempted to follow her brother when the women’s union team was formed.
“I was tempted to try, but grandma said ‘No’. I would have got splattered,” she said.
Lachlan at 20 is the youngest member of the family and has been playing rugby since he was eight.
He will line up with third grade in Saturday’s preliminary final against Hamilton for a spot in the grand final.