Brad Cooke has a wealth of Knockout knowledge. Having attended the tournament annually since 1991, the Bidjigal man has been a punter, player and pundit of the event. He's lent his skills where possible over a number of years and seen everything from tears to triumphs.
Being born and bred in La Perouse, it comes at no surprise that Brad has high hopes for La Perouse on the field. But when calling a game, Brad leaves his bias outside the commentating box, being sure to make fair calls and show enthusiasm for any winning team.
Brad's adamant that the Knockout showcases the best footy in Australia. He told NITV it not only gives league-lovers an entertaining long weekend, but also gives Aboriginal people an opportunity to promote culture, resilience and talent. As such, he has many monuments memories in the vault, here are just some from the men's game in the last 10 years.
2007 Grand Final: Wollumbin vs. La Perouse
The very first Live Broadcast NSW Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout ever and Wollumbin came from behind for the win.
Some beautiful tries from La Perouse in the first half made the match already exciting at just a few minutes in. Namely, Wes Patten (number 7) showing off his skills for the South-East Sydney club as he streaked from 10 meters landing a try. But it was Wollumbin's number 7, up-and-comer Kieran Lander, who was fiercely impressing onlookers with his ball skills. As well as the pure strength and power from Brisbane Bronco professional, Sam Thaiday (number 13).
During the second half, with La Perouse holding the upper hand, their number 3 player, Graham Lyons was sent to the sin bin leaving their defence depleted. From there on, it's a series of tries from Wollumbin; Robbie Reed (number 8), Thaiday; and then a sensational relay of Thaiday giving it to player number 6, who then gives it to Don Malone who runs meters with the ball, then quickly gives it to Josh Kirk (number 5) on the inside who brought the score to 42 -38 in favour of Wollumbin.
2008 Grand Final: Narwan vs. La Perouse
Narwan win after tragic death of their player, Alf Atkinson, in the semi final. Alf had a heart attack during the semi final match and passed away, leaving the Narwan team and its supporters devastated. While all the players were left shattered, it took the whole Armidale community to come together and strengthen the team to continue to play for the final.
During the game, it was Narwan's commitment in defence where they made it pretty clear nothing was going to let anything beat them. Gary Quinlan scored a magnificent try early on in the game which gave the Eels the lead and lead to a great all-round team performance.
2009 Grand Final: Walgett vs. Mindaribba
Chris Sandow misses penalty goal to win, Walgett crowned champions in 2nd half extra time 48-44
It was a game where nothing was conventional. A particularly active game from Sandow, who seemed to be everywhere he shouldn't; he was scoring tries when he shouldn't be scoring tries, taking intercepts when he shouldn't be intercepting. While both teams were at 44-44 head for the last part of the game, Sandow unluckily missed a penalty goal to win.
The extra time went into a second half, with players getting heated and trying to play referee, looking for any advantage they can get. But it was a try by Shaun Daylight who gave Walgett the victory.
2011 Round Game: Yuin Monaro vs. Moree
A comeback like you've never seen in rugby league - coming back from 8 points in the last two and a half minutes, it was South Coast Koori footy like you've never seen it.
In the final minutes of the game, with Moree in the lead, newcomers Yuin Monaro player Scott Laurie kicks a grubber from the 20 metre line, as Aaron Brieley runs away with it, pushing Moree's defence out of the way, he then gives it to Dane Tarere who achieves a stunning try.
But it doesn't end there. 48 seconds on the clock remaining, with Moree still in the lead (but Moree Boomerangs fans very nervous), Aaron Brieley is through the defence, then gives it to Wylie Manton . Yuin Monaro naturally go berserk and make it as the first team into the Semi Finals .
2011 Grand Final: Mindaribba vs Yuin Monaro
After two Grand Final losses in '09 and '10, Mindaribba finally take Knockout victory. With Mindaribba playing exceptionally well over the last few years and Yuin Monaro being very strong newcomers to the tournament, it could have been anyone's game.
Yuin had the "Flashy Brilliance" of players like Aaron Briereley, Richie Williams and Dane Tarere (who gave a momentous 46 metre kick through the posts), but by first try from Cody Walker (number 7) of Mindaribba, the Maitland mob dominated - really, dominated - the whole game, finishing up 56-22 as champions.
2013 Grand Final: Newcastle Yowies vs. Mindaribba
Albert Kelly kicking a sensation field goal in extra time.
2013 Semi Finals: Newcastle All Blacks vs. Newcastle Yowies
A much anticipated clash of the fiercest of rivals from the same community. While NAB consider themselves "the original Newcastle team", and think of the Yowies as the team that was brought together for the purposes of the Knockout, the Yowies were the defending champions.
It was nil all up to half time, with both teams pushing a hard slog and sussing each other out. However, intense rivalry prevailed and a largely physical match lead to havoc blowing up minutes before the siren. With the Yowies through the finals, the tough confrontation throughout the sadly - but not unsurprisingly - ended in a fight on the field.
2015 Round Game: La Perouse vs. Nambucca
Big comeback for La Perouse. La Perouse have very little televised wins, and when they are on screen they inevitably lose the big games. Both, 2007 and 2008 Grand Final losses, and 2013 Semi Final loss.
La Pa - a very young side made up of all local boys - came from behind, with Nambucca leading the first half 22-8! There was a fantastic try from the Rams, with Anthony Cowan (number 7) kicking a grubber, chasing it and pushing it into Dennis Smith who landed it over the try line - showing that there are some things you just can't coach.
But from the second half the Panthers kept climbing and climbing, largely due to the talents of Grant Garvey (number 9) who had an exceptionally busy game. And with Nambucca miss counting tackles and not taking a kick, La Perouse were able to take advantage of the handover and ending the game in victory, 24-22.
2015 Round Game: Walgett vs. Griffith
Physical game with lots of stoppages and fights. Exciting as the players involved were, especially with the NRL calibre players, it was a shock to see them behave this way - because they can’t during the NRL. Chris James is an NRL referee and struggled to contain them. Walgett’s willingness to engage in the disputes cost them the game, and great David Fifita's run led to a try down the grandstand side.
2015 Grand Final: Redfern All Blacks vs. Newcastle All Blacks
Incredible finish of penalty goal on full time to level game and Redfern score in extra time to win it.
Newcastle had lead the whole game and seemingly had it won. But by some miracle (and resilience), Redfern got a penalty right on full time, 50 metres from the goal. Shane Nolan kicked the goal to tie the game and send it to golden point extra time where Redfern scored in the corner after 7 mins to win the game.
All the action from the Koori Knockout 2017 will be broadcast: Online NITV Facebook 29th Sept - 2nd October (Friday to Monday) and On-air on Channel 34 1st- 2nd October (Sunday & Monday).
Catch up with all the action via SBS On Demand after the broadcast.
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