Gidley's Newcastle community spirit
Newcastle. Pick up the phone. Kurt Gidley is calling.
The Knights skipper wants to reconnect with the local community and draw upon what makes Newcastle great in 2015.
From Maitland to Cessnock, Port Stephens to Lake Macquarie, Central Coast to Scone and every other nook and cranny within the greater Hunter region, Gidley wants to get back together with the club's fans and thrive like the good old days.
Gidley said the Knights have seemingly "lost touch" with fans in recent years, and the Western Suburbs local junior wants to rebuild that thriving two-way relationship.
"Our community is our backbone," Gidley told NRL.com.
"Ever since I've been a junior and have come through the grades, the community has loved seeing local juniors come through and represent the Newcastle Knights in the NRL.
"They hold that pretty close to their heart, that they get to see local people play and when I say local I mean areas including the Hunter Valley and even the North Coast – we count them as our catchment area.
"As soon as someone sees younger guys coming through the grades and [play] first grade we make them our own and we'd like to see them play their whole career here."
Drawing inspiration from past Newcastle teams, Gidley said his team can learn a thing or two from the club's history when reconnecting with the community.
With Rick Stone, a born-and-bred Novocastrian, returning to coach the club and former Newcastle player and premiership-winning coach Michael Hagan rejoining the Knights as Director of Football, steps have already been made in reforming that bond with the local community.
"We were criticised over the past year because we weren't putting our bodies on the line. Our town is a big working class town, from the old days when it was the BHP to the people involved with the mines nowadays, they're all blue collar workers and that's what this town is about," Gidley said.
"Newcastle is about rolling up your sleeves and having a dig and that's what our club was built on back… when we first came into the competition in '88.
"All of our players back then were tough, they might not have won many games… but the other teams went back to Sydney with sore bodies because they got bashed around. That's what we need to get back to, making it hard for other teams to come to Newcastle and play us in front of our fans."
Gidley wouldn't blame individuals for the Knights' fractured relationship with fans, and said he wasn't sure ex-coach Wayne Bennett or former owner Nathan Tinkler were at fault.
"I was more touching on the fact that the Newcastle Knights need to get back to our grassroots," Gidley said.
"As a team though we underachieved last year and we need to do a lot better than that. We had a terrible start to the season and a horrendous year with off-field things, ownership issues and with players having to be sacked. Those were all distractions we just didn't need and hopefully we can fly under the radar a bit in 2015 as well."