Newtown’s oldest living former player Joe Wade has passed away at the age of 99. The Rugby League historian David Middleton is certain that Joe was also the oldest living former NSW Rugby League first grader.
Joe Wade’s passing severs one of the last remaining links with an era in the Newtown club’s history that now seems almost impossibly far away.
Joe grew up on a farm outside of Oberon on the NSW central-western tablelands. He moved to Sydney in the late 1930’s and became a wharfie at Darling Harbour. He was graded with Newtown in 1939 and played seven first grade games in 1940. Joe’s first grade team-mates included some of Newtown’s most illustrious names of the 1940’s – Frank “Bumper” Farrell, George Debnam, Jim Brailey, Athol “The Monaro Express” Stewart, Tommy Nevin, Tom Kirk, George Stonestreet, Lin McLean, Keith Phillips and Percy Williams.
Joe later moved to Lithgow where he worked as a coal miner. He played and then coached with different Rugby League clubs in Lithgow well into the 1950’s. The Wade family later moved to Toronto on the western shores of Lake Macquarie.
His family brought him to the Newtown RLFC centenary function at the Newtown Town Hall on the 8th January 2008, where he made a huge impression on those who had the honour of meeting him on that august occasion. Joe’s presence topped off what was a truly memorable day in the club’s history and he was hailed as a living treasure of the Newtown club.
He retained a keen interest in the club’s activities and he was very proud of his special association with the Bluebags. His family members told us that he took great pleasure in the Jets’ 2012 NSW Cup premiership victory.
Newtown RLFC extends sincere condolences to all the members of the Wade family on Joe’s passing, and we are very proud of Joe’s contribution to the Newtown club and to Rugby League football.