This is a good article. Follow the link for more information.

Hunter Mariners

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Hunter Mariners
Hunter 1997.jpg
Club information
Full nameHunter Mariners Rugby
League Football Club
Founded28 April 1995
Former details
CoachGraham Murray
CaptainNeil Piccinelli
CompetitionSuper League
19976th of 10
Minor premiership0
Wooden spoons0

The Hunter Mariners were an Australian professional rugby league club based in the Hunter Region's largest city, Newcastle. Hunter was formed in mid-1995 and was later disbanded at the end of 1997. The club was formed because of the Super League war, which was the rivalry between the traditional Australian Rugby League competition and the new media driven Super League competition. The team competed in the inaugural and only Super League season in 1997, as well as that year's World Club Challenge.

The Mariners faced much adversity in the Newcastle region because of the Australian Rugby League's Newcastle Knights team being already well established in the region.[2] The club played its home games at Topper Stadium and missed out on the finals of the 1997 Super League season, but made the grand final of the World Club Challenge. The team was overshadowed by the Newcastle Knights who won the ARL competition and were admitted into the 1998 re-united competition. The Mariners were disbanded after being left out of the new competition because they believed that the Hunter region could not support two entities.



The New South Wales Rugby League competition (NSWRL) had been formed in 1908 as the first rugby league competition in Australia. There was a Newcastle based club in the first two seasons of the Sydney-based competition, but they eventually left to form their own Newcastle Rugby League competition. It was not until 1988 that another Newcastle based team was admitted into the NSWRL. In 1995, the Australian Rugby League (ARL) took control of the competition amid the beginning of the Super League war. It was then that News Limited began proposing and deliberating a rival rugby league competition and the twenty teams which competed in the 1995 ARL season were split between the Super League and ARL competitions.[3]

The Newcastle Knights, the Newcastle-based team formed in 1988, aligned itself with the ARL and the new Super League competition was left without a Newcastle-based team. The Super League then established their own Newcastle-based team. The financially successful Newcastle Wests Leagues Club was given a licence to form a club for the 1996 inaugural Super League season.[3]

In July 1995, it was officially announced that the Newcastle-based team would be called the "Hunter Mariners". However, in the middle of 1995, members of the Newcastle Wests Leagues Club did not want the club involved in the rebel competition, and the club held a meeting after 5,000 fans signed a petition objecting to the club’s involvement. After this, and when local unions became involved in the protest, the Leagues Club abandoned the licence. The club then became owned and supported by News Limited.[3]

In early 1996, the Hunter Mariners club was officially launched, without a home ground, but on that same day the Super League was banned from running its rebel competition. Originally the Mariners were allowed to use the Newcastle Knights home ground Marathon Stadium by the Showground Trust, but the Supreme Court found that they had no rights to play there.[2] The club eventually played at Topper Stadium, sharing the ground with the National Soccer League's Newcastle Breakers, and used over $1 million to upgrade facilities at the stadium. After an appeal in mid-1996, the Super League was officially allowed to run the competition, which began in 1997.[3]

1997 Super League Telstra Cup[edit]

The Mariners lost their first three games of the premiership season, their first a narrow loss on their home ground. However, after the first loss at home, the Mariners were able to win seven consecutive matches at Topper Stadium. Despite this home ground record, Mariners were never able to win away from home. They lost all nine matches played away from their stadium, and subsequently missed out on the finals for the Super League season.[3]

The Mariners were able to produce some representative players throughout their one season. Noel Goldthorpe and Robbie Ross were selected in the Super League Tri-Series and Goldthorpe scored the winning points for New South Wales in the final of that series. Tyran Smith, Tony Iro and Kevin Iro were all selected for the New Zealand representative team. While mid-year find Brett Kimmorley was the club’s sole selection for Australia in the Super League Test series against Great Britain.[3]

Round Home Score Away Date Venue Crowd
1 Hunter Mariners 16–20 Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 2 March 1997 Topper Stadium 6,579
2 Auckland Warriors 18–14 Hunter Mariners 8 March 1997 Mount Smart Stadium 20,300
3 Adelaide Rams 10–8 Hunter Mariners 14 March 1997 Adelaide Oval 27,435
4 Hunter Mariners 38–10 North Queensland Cowboys 22 March 1997 Topper Stadium 6,090
5 Canberra Raiders 18–12 Hunter Mariners 30 March 1997 Bruce Stadium 15,650
6 Penrith Panthers 36–24 Hunter Mariners 4 April 1997 Penrith Stadium 8,926
7 Hunter Mariners 18–10 Auckland Warriors 12 April 1997 Topper Stadium 7,719
8 Hunter Mariners 36–16 Perth Reds 18 April 1997 Topper Stadium 4,139
9 Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 26–0 Hunter Mariners 26 April 1997 Endeavour Stadium 12,284
10 Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 48–36 Hunter Mariners 12 May 1997 Belmore Sports Ground 7,126
11 Hunter Mariners 30–6 Penrith Panthers 16 May 1997 Topper Stadium 2,198
12 Hunter Mariners 24–6 Brisbane Broncos 30 May 1997 Topper Stadium 7,124
13 Hunter Mariners 16–12 Canberra Raiders 27 June 1997 Topper Stadium 7,404
14 Hunter Mariners 10–2 Adelaide Rams 5 July 1997 Topper Stadium 2,345
15 North Queensland Cowboys 33–14 Hunter Mariners 13 July 1997 Willows Stadium 11,480
16 Perth Reds 30–22 Hunter Mariners 10 August 1997 WACA 5,083
17 Brisbane Broncos 34–16 Hunter Mariners 18 August 1997 QE II 13,830
18 Hunter Mariners 16–28 Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 24 August 1997 Topper Stadium 5,122

1997 World Club Championship[edit]

The Super League had also begun a rugby league competition in England, and they had created a mixed competition, encompassing Super League clubs from Australia, New Zealand, France and England, known as the World Club Challenge. The 1997 World Club Championship was held in order to crown "the best club in the world". The Mariners were a part of Australasia’s group A and competed in England, before returning to complete the Australian part of the competition. The Mariners won all three games in England, over Paris Saint-Germain, Castleford and Sheffield. They returned home to again win the three games at Topper Stadium and therefore made the finals of the competition.[3]

The finals system meant that they would have to play their finals match in England against English Super League club Wigan. The Mariners shocked the club and the league by winning 22–18. That score line would again be repeated in the grand final qualifier against Australian club Cronulla, another match the Mariners were expected to lose. But the Mariners were able to defeat the Australian Super League runners-up to take themselves to the grand final of the competition.[4] Against the winners of the Super League grand final, Brisbane, the Mariners were blown away by the competition favourites. In what would be their final rugby league match as a club, the Mariners were down at half-time 26–4 and the final scoreline of 36–12 prevented the Mariners taking out a A$1 million prize.[3]

Round Home Score Away Date Venue Crowd
Group Paris Saint-Germain 12–28 Hunter Mariners 8 June 1997 Stade Sébastien Charléty 3,500
Group Castleford Tigers 12–42 Hunter Mariners 13 June 1997 Wheldon Road 3,087
Group Sheffield Eagles 4–40 Hunter Mariners 20 June 1997 Don Valley Stadium 2,350
Group Hunter Mariners 26–8 Castleford Tigers 20 July 1997 Topper Stadium 3,379
Group Hunter Mariners 32–4 Paris Saint-Germain 27 July 1997 Topper Stadium 2,210
Group Hunter Mariners 58–12 Sheffield Eagles 3 August 1997 Topper Stadium 1,965
QF Wigan Warriors 18–22 Hunter Mariners 3 October 1997 Central Park 9,553
SF Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 18–22 Hunter Mariners 11 October 1997 Shark Park 5,214
F Brisbane Broncos 36–12 Hunter Mariners 17 October 1997 Mount Smart Stadium 12,000


The agreement of the ARL and Super League was to unify and become one competition, to be known as the National Rugby League (NRL), was that only twenty teams would compete in the competition in 1998. This meant that three of the twenty-two teams from both competitions was to be demised with the addition of a new Melbourne based team. With the other Newcastle-based team, the Newcastle Knights winning the 1997 premiership, they were admitted into the new competition, however the NRL saw that two Newcastle based teams would not be financially viable.[3]

Late in 1997, the club was offered to merge with Gold Coast-based team the Gold Coast Chargers, which would be known as the Gold Coast Mariners and would be based in the Gold Coast. However the Gold Coast party withdrew late to go alone in the 1998 competition, and while the Mariners tried to do the same, they, along with South Queensland Crushers and Western Reds, were not admitted into the NRL competition, thus ending their tenure as a first-grade rugby league team.[3]

Representative players[edit]

Players from the Hunter Mariners that have represented other teams while at the club include Australian international Brett Kimmorley and New Zealand internationals Kevin Iro, Tony Iro and Tyran Smith. Robbie Ross and Noel Goldthorpe also played for New South Wales in the State of Origin.[citation needed]


In the Super League season, the Mariners used a total of twenty-nine players over the eighteen games.[5][6]

Cap Name Nationality Position Career Appearances T G FG P
1 Keith Beauchamp Australia Wing 1997 17 7 - - 28
2 Justin Dooley Australia Prop 1997 4 - - - -
3 Brad Godden Australia Centre 1997 11 2 - - 8
4 Noel Goldthorpe Australia Halfback 1997 14 3 8 - 28
5 Scott Hill Australia Five-eighth 1997 18 2 - - 8
6 Tony Iro New Zealand Second-row 1997 14 3 - - 12
7 Tim Maddison Australia Prop 1997 16 1 - - 4
8 Robbie McCormack Australia Hooker 1997 15 - - - -
9 Paul Marquet Australia Second-row 1997 15 3 - - 12
10 Neil Piccinelli Australia Lock, Second-row 1997 17 6 2 - 28
11 Willie Poching New Zealand Lock, Second-row 1997 13 3 1 - 14
12 Robbie Ross Australia Fullback 1997 16 5 - - 20
13 Troy Stone Australia Prop 1997 18 1 - - 4
14 Richard Swain New Zealand Hooker 1997 14 - 4 - 8
15 Gavin Thompson Australia Fullback, Wing 1997 12 3 - - 12
16 Nick Zisti Australia Centre, Wing 1997 17 9 20 - 76
17 Anthony Brann Australia Prop 1997 16 - - - -
18 John Carlaw Australia Centre, Wing 1997 8 - - - -
19 Troy Miles Australia 1997 3 1 - - 4
20 Paul Sarpi Australia 1997 1 - - - -
21 Mike Dorreen New Zealand Centre 1997 3 1 - - 4
22 Craig Kimmorley Australia Five-eighth 1997 1 - - - -
23 Darrien Doherty Australia Second-row 1997 11 1 - - 4
24 Robbie Bannister Australia Wing 1997 2 1 - - 4
25 Brett Kimmorley Australia Halfback 1997 9 2 4 - 16
26 Steve Ebrill Australia 1997 1 - - - -
27 Craig Wise Australia Centre, Wing 1997 4 4 - - 16
28 Kevin Iro New Zealand Centre 1997 4 1 2 - 8
29 Tyran Smith New Zealand Lock 1997 2 - - - -

Records and statistics[edit]

Individual records[edit]

Scott Hill, Peter Gregory, and Tony Stone share the record of playing all eighteen Super League games for the Mariners, being the players with the most first grade games. Nick Zisti, however is the Mariner's most prolific record holder, with the most first grade points for the team with 76 points. This encompasses the most tries for the team with nine as well as most goals with twenty. Zisti has the most tries and goals in a match with three and five scored respectively in a match. The Mariners have only had three representatives, Robbie Ross and Noel Goldthorpe represented New South Wales in the Super League Tri-Series while Brett Kimmorley represented Australia in the Super League test matches.[3]

Team honours[edit]

Their home ground success, winning seven from nine matches, was never able to attract decent figure crowds, their highest reaching 7,719. Compared with the Super League competition average of 12,347 and the nearby Newcastle Knights had an average of 14,257 home attendances. With crowds at these levels, the Mariners were unsuccessfully competing in the Newcastle area.[3]

Season Pld W D L PF PA PD W% Position
1997 Super League season 18 7 0 11 350 363 −13 38.89% 6/10
1997 World Club Championship 9 8 0 1 282 120 +162 88.89% 2/22
Total 27 15 0 12 632 483 +149 55.56%


  1. ^ "The Gardens". Australian Stadiums. Retrieved 23 March 2008.
  2. ^ a b Fagen, Sean. "Rugby League History – Hunter Mariners". Archived from the original on 24 February 2008. Retrieved 13 June 2008.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Whiticker, Alan; Collis, Ian (2004). The History of Rugby League Clubs. New Holland Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd. ISBN 1-74110-075-5.
  4. ^ Hadfield, Dave (16 October 1997). "The short but amazing life of Hunter Mariners". The Independent. Retrieved 6 October 2009.
  5. ^ Smith, James. "Sydney Premiership 1997 (Super League) details". Archived from the original on 29 August 2005. Retrieved 15 April 2008.
  6. ^ Jeffs, Paul. "Rugby League Tables / Hunter Scorers". Archived from the original on 22 April 2008. Retrieved 15 April 2008.

External links[edit]