Candelo-Bemboka jersey history comes to light

• Original players from the Candelo-Bemboka Panthers are on hand to show their support and present current players with “chocolate soldier” jerseys on Sunday.

• Original players from the Candelo-Bemboka Panthers are on hand to show their support and present current players with “chocolate soldier” jerseys on Sunday.

THE origin of Candelo-Bemboka’s original chocolate soldier jerseys has been revealed. 

Bemboka’s Terry Hambilton said it was his father, Doug, who had ties with the Penrith Panthers and brought down the jerseys in 1969. 

“Dad was captain-coach of the Panthers in 1967 when they were able to form,” Hambilton said. 

“I  was Penrith’s ball boy at the time.”

Hambilton said the jumpers were “brand new” and had been created in 1969 for Penrith’s following season, but a design change to the brown “Vee” saw the jumpers sitting in an office.  

“They were brand new, they were sitting in Merv Cartwright’s office,” Hambilton said. 

“We changed the jumpers so instead of wasting them, we took them down to Candelo-Bemboka.”

Hambilton said he had two original jerseys in his “football room”, including the 1970 brown vee. 

“They are bloody horrible, it’s the worst jumper I’ve ever seen,” he said with a laugh.

When Penrith entered the NRL it had royal blue and white jerseys, but was forced to change it’s colours as it joined at the same time as Cronulla [Sharks]. 

Hambilton said the club kept a tribute to its heritage in the logo. 

“You’ll find a red and blue stripe on the emblem,” he said. 

Hambilton played for Candelo-Bemboka for three years and described it as the “greatest time in my life”.

Hambilton saw some of the best pass through the Penrith Panthers while his dad was in charge. 

“Dad is a life member of Penrith, but he ended up on the board of the Canberra Raiders.

“Timmy Sheens made his start there, even the fat man Daryl Brohman was there,” he said. 

“The coach of the Titans was my sand boy back then, little Johnny we called him.”

Despite a vast history in the NRL Hambilton said the highlight for him was the return of the Candelo-Bemboka Panthers.  

“It’s the greatest thing I ever heard that the Panthers are back.

“It’s a wonderful thing to see them going again.”

Hambilton said a statistic most people wouldn’t realise is the Panthers still hold the most first grade premierships in Group 16. 

“We still hold the record for that,” he said. 

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