‘Defining Moments’ and Refining Myths in the Making of Place Identity: the Newcastle Knights and the Australian Rugby League Grand Final



This paper deals with the role of the media in refashioning place identity and in repositioning places in the cultural system of space. Specifically, it examines as a case study the media coverage of the September 1997 success of the ‘Newcastle Knights’ in the Australian Rugby League Grand Final. This event produced an intriguing moment in the reimagination of the identity of Newcastle (New South Wales), an industrial city undergoing ‘deindustrialisation‘. The paper draws on Hall’s (1997) notion of ‘resemanticisation‘ in repositioning place identity to explore how key elements of Newcastle’s dominant identity myths were utilised by the media in the post-match media coverage. Traditional industrial narratives of embattled place were merged with the vision of a bright economic future for a re-identified Newcastle and recoverable elements of Newcastle’s problematic industrial place identity were recast, stripped of their troubling connotations, and deployed in furthering the project of reimagining a prosperous future for the city. The paper thus considers the role of the media and sport in locating and relocating places in the Australian cultural system of space.