When it comes to pride in their history, Adamstown Rosebud players wear their heart on their sleeves.
In 2019, they’ll take this show of spirit to the next level with the football club preparing to don a heritage-inspired strip to commemorate the club’s 130th anniversary.
Established in 1889 at the suggestion of locally-based soccer fan Reverend John Penman, Adamstown Rosebud is one of the oldest clubs still existence in Australia.
Currently playing in the Northern NSW Football National Premier League, the club also played in the former National Soccer League between 1984 and 1986 as Newcastle Rosebud United.
Adamstown has ridden a rollercoaster of both championship triumphs and far leaner seasons over the years, with highlights including 31 First Division premierships and 28 players who have gone on to represent Australia in the national team.
But regardless of their ups and downs, some things never change including the passion of the players and administrators for both the club itself and their home ground of Adamstown Oval.
Club president Andrew Licata said Adamstown has a long and rich history of which it is understandably proud.
“The Hunter Valley area or Newcastle area, was where some of the first football clubs were formed in Australia and we’d be amongst the earliest clubs in Australia,” he said.
“That’s probably a fact that’s not really that well known around the place. I know you've got some big clubs in Melbourne, Sydney and they probably have taken a little bit of the limelight, but the Newcastle area was really the cradle of football in Australia.
“I think when you’re in the club there is a special attachment to the place. The football culture has changed a lot in that now … there’s a lot of people that kind of move from one club to another, but when they do land at Adamstown, they then understand the history behind it.”
Highlighting that history is one of the club’s goals for 2019, with the new uniform enabling them to provide a visual reminder of the past.
While it will still sport the familiar red and green colours that Adamstown has long been known for, the playing shirt will also feature a diagonal stripe from the right shoulder to the left waist as a tribute to the design worn by the Adamstown team of 1896.
Added touches will see the club’s 130th-anniversary logo added to the shirt front, while the back will showcase the names of the 28 Australian Internationals who have previously worn the Rosebud kit.
Adamstown’s goalkeepers will be decked out in blue in a symbolic return to the club’s original colours, which were two different shades of blue, with a V on the chest of the shirts reflecting the design worn by the club’s Youth teams in the 1930s and 40s, and goalkeepers in the 1950s.
Licata said focussing on the history was one part of the club’s commitment to developing players both on and off the pitch.
“We feel a responsibility towards our young players, and so for us, it’s not just about developing good footballers, it's trying to develop good people that, you know, will make a good contribution to society that may not necessarily be football,” he said.
“I think it's important to be able to link to the history and talk about the different people that have been involved in the club and have contributed. We’ve had people who were prominent footballers for the club but then went off to war and became ANZAC heroes; there are other people who have made other contributions in all sort of walks of life within Newcastle and in even broader areas.
“We talk about the Australian internationals that we’ve had, often those who have played international football are obviously the ones that people remember, but there’s lots of other people that contributed in great ways that made the club survive over these many years.”
Of course, you can’t talk about Adamstown without mentioning its long line-up of players who have gone on to represent Australia, including their most capped representative Ray Baartz, who played for the Socceroos 59 times from 1967-1974.
The illustrious list of internationals also includes Col Curran, who donned the green and gold 35 times and in 1974 became the first - and only - Novocastrian to play in the men’s World Cup.
Now in his seventies, Curran still recalls his time as a Rosebud with great fondness.
“I was at Maitland (football club) and then in about 1962, myself and Ray Baartz, who was also at Maitland, were asked to go to Adamstown, and we did,” he said.
Col Curran Heritage Cup
“I was playing first grade at 15, and I was there until 1970 when I went to Sydney.
“It was a club that you didn't want to leave, but you had to leave back in those days because they very rarely took people from the North, Northern New South Wales, to make the Australian side and you had to go to Sydney to be under the eyes of the coaches. That's the only reason I left.
“Other than that it was the best club I’ve ever been to, and played for.
“I couldn’t wait to get to training of a night, the team spirit was fantastic, and you knew everybody, and you just had a ball. It was a great club to play for.”
With three senior squads (First Grade, Under 20 and Under 18), and four youth squads (Under 16, Under 15, Under 14 and Under 13 years) in the National Premium League, it’s clear Adamstown is still a great club to play for.
Licata said they were looking forward to continuing that tradition now and into the future, with the help of the skilled coaching staff, passionate players, dedicated volunteers and the generous sponsors who provide much-needed financial support.