We used to watch the Paul Hogan show - I loved Paul Hogan - and he'd always come out in the Jets socks and Jets jersey. When he met Queen Elizabeth, he had on the tightest AFL shorts you've ever seen, and the Jets socks pulled all the way up to his knees. One day we went to watch Newtown play and we saw Paul Hogan there. We shook his hand! We were excited.
In 1983 the Jets got kicked out of the first-grade competition. Newtown faded away for me then, I was just concentrating on Souths, and I was playing footy myself for Marrickville RSL. Push forward to 2000, I happened to be in a pub, saw someone I knew, Col Murphy, and I said 'Col what are you doing here with a Jets singlet and all, looking sweaty?', and he said 'I just finished training with the Newtown Jets - we're in the NSW Cup'. And I said 'fantastic'. That was a special year for the Jets.
I had just bought a video camera and I asked, 'do you mind if I come down and film the game?' It went from there. I started travelling with the Jets. There were no photographers, so all the Jets had were my videos. At the first presentation night, I taught myself how to edit, put a little package together and presented it to them.
My brother bought the penny farthing bike for $5 at a garage sale, around 2000, for his kid, who fell off it and hurt himself, so after that it just stayed in their garage at Penshurst for a few years. One day he was cleaning his garage and asked me to give him a hand. Halfway through I saw the bike. I got on it, rode it around, found myself on the driveway, then on the street, and I just didn't turn back. I rode all the way home to Dulwich Hill, and every car was beeping and that is why I didn't get off it, because of the buzz of how people were reacting to it.
The bike is a circus clown bike from the 1950s. and I am a bit of a clown myself so people say it really suits me. I was voted class clown of the year at our 20-year school reunion.
I was videoing until 2009, when my camera broke. I took it to get repaired and they said it might be two weeks. It was the first time I didn't know what to do during a game, and I thought, I'll take the bike, that'll be a fun thing - so I decked it out in Jets stuff, put on a flag and a horn and some stickers, and I just had it there, I didn't ride it, and then right at the end we were behind and scored a magic try to win the game. We had a big crowd, so I jumped on my bike and did a lap, and there was cheering and high-fiving and I thought wow, that was a lot of fun.
There was cheering and high-fiving and I thought wow, that was a lot of fun.- John Trad
The next week I brought it again, the Jets scored a try, I did a lap and had some kids chasing me, people taking video and photos and cheering and after that, every time we scored I would do a lap. About a week after that, I got a call from the camera shop, saying it's going to cost $380 to fix. I said let me think about it. By then the NRL was filming every game. I never picked the camera up from the shop.
The kids love it at Henson Park. I can't see what's going on behind me, but people show me videos and there's 30-40 kids there; they can't wait until we've scored a try.
I was never, ever shy. I've got hundreds of photos of me as a kid, and in every photo I was pulling a face. You know what I think brought that along? The death of my father when I was 10. Everyone was screaming. The trauma I must have gone through. It was very solemn at our house for a lot of weeks. No one was laughing, no one was talking - except me. I used to love making everyone laugh.
I was a carer for my mum, who passed away three years ago. She got married very young and had 14 kids - she lost her first four in Lebanon during World War II, during days of malnutrition and starving.
I always want to see them get into first grade, but the sad thing about that is you never get to see them again.- John Trad
When my dad came to Australia in 1949, he got a job in the Ford factory and raised enough money to bring her over. Like all Lebanese, they were in Redfern in those days - we lived next door to Redfern Oval. We were living with my mother's brother who had eight kids, so there were 21 people living in a four-bedroom terrace. Then my father found a place in Dulwich Hill, and we moved here in 1967.
My role has always been voluntary with the Jets. I am the first one there at the training sessions. I've got the keys, I set up the field, get the Gatorade and the water ready; we also assist in the training - sometimes they need to do moves and need defenders, so the trainers get on the defensive side and the players tackle you hard! They don't know you are 56 years old!
Every year you meet a whole new bunch of young fellas, you get to know them for a year or two and they become mates. I always want to see them get into first grade, but the sad thing about that is you never get to see them again. You kind of cherish the moments that you spend with these people.
I won Clubman of the Year in 2011 and again in 2019. To be part of the Newtown Jets family is a real privilege and honour for me."
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