Kent: Knights let down their coach, club and city
IT was strawberry thickshakes at 20 paces in Newcastle on Tuesday.
A day after offering to quit to satisfy the unique thirst of his playing group, Knights coach Nathan Brown got to training and saw his players were still in their post-carb coma.
They could not have pretended to be less interested. And so Brown knew then he had to quit.
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The players were sleeping their way through training like they had slept their way through training last week and had slept through Saturday night's extraordinary loss to Wests Tigers.
They even slept their way through Brown's offer made after the loss to walk away immediately if the players did not want him there coaching. Not one even bothered to reply in the affirmative or the negative.
Brown saw that as a clear indication he had lost the players so he told Knights' boss Phil Gardner on Monday he was stepping down immediately.
Gardner talked him into staying.
Then Brown turned up and saw the complete lack of interest still there in his playing group. The Knights play Gold Coast on Saturday and he is too bruised at the moment to even risk a loss to the Titans with this lot.
There might never be any coming back from that.
It is extraordinary to think Newcastle is still a chance at making the playoffs and seem prepared to let it all go through lack of interest.
The Knights play the Titans on Saturday and Penrith in the final round.
If they win both games and Brisbane lose to Parramatta and Canterbury, and Wests Tigers lose to St George Illawarra and Cronulla, the Knights will finish eighth.
But that is a coalfield fantasy at the moment.
Professionalism is dead in Newcastle, at least for the short term.
Captain Mitchell Pearce tried his best to make him and his players accountable on Monday. He said all the right words.
What his teammates can't seem to be bothered with is that actions are required to back up the strong verbs in professional sport and this lot doesn't seem to have it in them.
And to think it is Old Boys day in Newcastle on Saturday.
Old Boys day is an idea that originated in Newcastle that has now spread around the league and it is a reminder for the club to retain what is important.
Like servicemen marching down Main St, long after the war, a proud heart always beats inside the chest of old Knights players when they turn up to be recognised.
They arrive on Old Boys day knowing they stood for something, that they built something, and the current players will honour that with their performance.
For Newcastle, no matter where they always were on the ladder, that performance was built on the values the club was built on, what the Knights' first coach Allan McMahon called the Three Ts.
They were Tackling, Toughness and Tomorrows.
The Knights' entire recruitment was based around the Three Ts.
Back in those early days the old Knights did not always win but they did always like to beat their opposition up. There was a special pride that came with being tough to beat.
Toughness and hard tackling, from young men with plenty of tomorrows, delivered that.
It was a reputation known around the league, which also carried a certain pride.
Many old players from many other clubs will tell you about certain seasons where they finished above expectation and their little secret, they will say, was they followed the Knights through the draw.
In those pre-recovery days, when the only ice in the dressing room was to keep the beer cold, the Knights often went out and did such a job beating on the opposition they left them sore enough to affect their performance the following weekend.
It happened more than once.
Old Newcastle players take a certain pride in hearing those stories.
This mob, though, has totally lost the moral obligation that comes with professionalism, to say nothing of old Newcastle values.
They would not have bruised a grape against Wests Tigers last week, leaving the Tigers as fresh as new daisies against the Dragons on Sunday.
And the inconvenient truth of that is a Tigers win over the Dragons will effectively end the Knights' season on Sunday.