Sydney footy club recreates the moment the Newcastle Knights won the 1997 grand final as part of their Mad Monday celebrations
- Knights beat Manly in epic ARL grand final
- Andrew Johns and Darren Albert were the heroes
- Carinbah footy club re-created that moment
A suburban rugby league club in Sydney has re-created one of the most iconic moments in footy history as part of their Mad Monday celebrations.
Caringbah club De La Salle Rugby League was celebrating the end of its season when they decided to set up the thrilling finale to the 1997 ARL grand final.
Players dressed in Newcastle jerseys re-inacted the last-gasp play that saw Andrew Johns put Darren Albert over for a famous win that has become enshrined in rugby league folklore.
In 1997, Australian rugby league was split into two factions, with Newcastle emerging as champions in the 12-team ARL competition, while Brisbane asserted their dominance in the 10-team rebel Super League.
The Knights, in only their 10th season, reached their first grand final, facing off against the reigning premiers and arch-rivals, Manly.
Their journey to the final was fraught with challenges.
BHP announced it was closing down that year, leaving the town and its workers down in the doldrums.
Knights players celebrate on the back of a truck in front of a reception by 50,000 supporters during a parade through the streets of Newcastle in 1997
Johns came out of hospital where he was receiving treatment for broken ribs and a punctured lung to play in the grand final where he laid on the match-winning pass for Darren Albert
Star halfback Andrew ‘Joey’ Johns found himself in the hospital for most of the week, tending to three broken ribs and a punctured lung.
Meanwhile, their inspirational captain, Paul ‘Chief’ Harragon, was battling with a strained hamstring.
‘We were down and out, we were reeling from all those job losses with BHP closing, the Super League war, it was our Bicentenary and we’d had nothing to celebrate, so all that collective cause just magnified the situation,’ Harragon said at the time.
In the midst of this dramatic backdrop, Johns summoned the strength to leave his hospital bed and join his teammates for their final training session.
Unfazed by the pain, he boarded the bus to Sydney with the team the day before the game. On the field, he played through the agony, ultimately orchestrating the winning try for Darren Albert.
With just seconds on the clock and the scores locked at 16-16, Johns set off on a darting run from dummy-half along the tight blind-side, luring a couple of Manly defenders.
It created a gap so wide it could accommodate the Queen Mary and Darren Albert saw it too, charging on to a Johns pass for one of the most memorable rugby league tries in history.
While the attacking players dressed as the part in Newcastle jerseys, the defending players opted not to wear the Manly strip and instead dressed as the Jamaican bobsled team made famous by the movie Cool Runnings.
‘Lacklustre defence from the Jamaican bobsled team,’ one follower joked.
Rushing from the dead ball line, players dressed as nuns, the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland, Mario, Duffman, Marge Simpson and more came in to celebrate ‘Darren Albert’.