|Full name||North Sydney & District Rugby League Football Club|
|Founded||7 February 1908 (foundation club)|
|Competition||NSWRL, ARL, NRL, New South Wales Cup|
|1999||14th of 17|
|Premierships||2 – 1921, 1922|
|Runners-up||1 – 1943|
|Minor premiership||2 – 1921, 1922|
The North Sydney Bears are an Australian rugby league football club based in North Sydney, New South Wales. They compete in the New South Wales Cup, having exited the National Rugby League following the 1999 NRL season after 92 years of top-grade competition. The Bears are based on Sydney's Lower North Shore, and have played at North Sydney Oval since 1910. There is a bid supporting a resurrection of the club in the NRL as the Central Coast Bears, based in Gosford, New South Wales.
The club was established in 1908, making it one of the original founding members of the New South Wales Rugby Football League, and one of Australia's first rugby league football clubs. North Sydney continued competing with some success in the first half of the 20th century in the NSWRL, and through the ARL and NRL premierships until they merged with Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles to form the Northern Eagles for the 2000 season. The merged club lasted only until 2002 when it split again, with the Bears returning, but this time in the NSWRL competition the second-tier rugby league competition, where they continue to play today.
North Sydney are in partnership with the Rabbitohs, taking the place of Souths reserve grade. Until the end of season 2009, Souths were coached by the Bears' record-breaking top points scorer, Jason Taylor.
North Sydney was formed as a foundation club of the newly arrived rugby league game in 1908 and were known as the Shoremen. Like the other Sydney district clubs, Norths were largely born from players and officials from the local Rugby Union club, Northern Suburbs Rugby Club. The club initially struggled to obtain access to North Sydney Oval, but council obstruction was removed and the Shoremen played their first real home game in 1910. Many good players such as Andy Morton, Jimmy Devereaux and Sid Deane were lost to English clubs in the years after making the semi-finals in the season of 1908.
They were nearly dropped from the competition during World War I because of dwindling spectator numbers. Towards the end of the war, Norths' fortunes improved, playing quality and spectators numbers increased and they won 2 premierships in 1921–22 coached by Chris McKivat. Unfortunately, these would be their last first grade premierships and their last grand final appearance was in 1943. when an injury riddled North Sydney were beaten by Newtown 34–7. North Sydney's Captain-coach in the in the Grand Final of 1943 was the future doyen of rugby league broadcasters, Frank Hyde. Hyde, who was living in Lane Cove at the time, had been forced to switch from Balmain to Norths in 1941 due to the leagues residency rules which stated that a player was required to live in their clubs district. As Lane Cove was in North Sydney's district, the club protested to the NSWRFL and claimed Hyde from Balmain.
The team became known as the North Sydney Bears during the 'fifties after accepting a sponsorship from the nearby Big Bear supermarket at Neutral Bay.
The 1952 season saw North Sydney reach the finals for the first time since 1943.
The Bears continued to make appearances in the finals during the next few decades, and produced arguably the greatest winger the game has ever seen in Ken Irvine. Irvine still hold the record for most first grade tries for one club (171).
The nineties saw finals appearances and near misses in 1991, and 1993–1998. On 14 July 1994 the club was fined $87,000 for breaching the salary cap. That year they came within one match of the grand final.
The following year saw two separate national rugby league championships, and confirmation of the club's intention to move north to New South Wales' Central Coast. By the start of the 1999 NRL season the future looked bright, with plans for the move north well underway, but one unfortunate and apparently non-negotiable outcome of the Super League war's peace deal was a criterion designed to reduce the number of teams in the NRL to fourteen.
Due to their insolvency, the North Sydney club were not even considered for the NRL's inclusion criteria. After some deliberation and the rights of the members of the football club handed over to avoid an embarrassing 'NO' vote on the merger question, and the signing of most of the Bears younger brigade and few from the senior team, the name Northern Eagles was born. The name Northern Eagles had little relevance to North Sydney with many people feeling the word Northern represented the Northern Beaches and not the word Norths or North used to describe North Sydney since 1908. The word Eagles reflected the Eagle or Sea Eagle of the Manly club and had nothing to do with the beloved Bear mascot of the North Sydney club. The originally mooted Northern Phoenix was dismissed by the dominant Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles faction. The team colours were largely based on the old Manly colours, another 'reason' or the excuse that most Bears' fans used to refuse to support the joint venture.
The joint venture club played out of North Power Stadium (now Blue Tongue Central Coast Stadium) at Gosford, a ground largely developed by the Bears and Brookvale Oval, but poor on-field performances and factional fighting led to the collapse of the Northern Eagles in 2002, after only three years. Bears fans' worst fears were realised when the Northern Eagles' licence then reverted to Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, leaving the foundation club out of the top flight of rugby league in Australia after more than 90 years.
The New South Wales Cup
North Sydney play in the second-tier NSW Cup competition, serving as the reserve side for the South Sydney Rabbitohs. They have also been affiliated with the Warriors and the Storm in the past. In the 2007 NSWRL Premier League the North Sydney Bears made the Grand Final facing off against Sydney rivals Parramatta. They were beaten 15–20 by Weller Hauraki, scoring a controversial try with just 10 seconds to go, on the '7th' tackle. The team consists of players from the South Sydney full-time squad and North Sydney part-time squad. North Sydney finished the 2008 season as NSW Cup minor premiers. In 2009 Bears lost to Balmain Tigers in extra time to miss out on the Grand Final 19-18. 2010 was a poor season for the Bears, who received the wooden spoon (Last Place), However this was turned around in the 2011 season with the Bears missing out on the Grand final by one game to Canterbury Bulldogs, Deon Apps and Curtis Johnston Represented the bears in the 2012 NSW Residents side with Curtis Johnston finishing up leading try scorer for the competition by end of round 26 with 28 tries. 2012 saw the Bears make the semi finals, missing out on the minor premiership by For-And-Against to the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. They lost their first semi final to Newcastle Knights but had a chance to remain in the running of the competition the week after only to give up a 36-6 point lead to Newtown Jets and lose in over time 36-38 from a Daniel Mortimer 35 Metre Penalty Goal. Newtown Jets went onto to beat Balmain Tigers in the 2012 NSW Cup Grand Final.
The Central Coast Bears
There is a movement for a return to first-grade Rugby League for the once proud club, with the North Sydney Bears moving to Gosford (on the Central Coast, New South Wales) and becoming the Central Coast Bears. The Bears bid committee is lobbying the NRL for inclusion as the next expansion team. They are headed up by Perry Lopez and Greg Florimo and has the corporate backing of a number of local Central Coast and some North Shore businesses. The proposed team would play 11 games in Gosford and 1 game at North Sydney Oval (obviously against Manly as part of a heritage or rivalry round). North Sydney legend David Fairleigh is proposed to become the inaugural coach. Prominent rugby league personalities who have publicly backed the club include Phil Gould, Andrew Johns and Peter Sterling while support has also come from as high up as Federal Shadow Treasurer and North Sydney MP Joe Hockey.
Bears fan Alan McLoughlin, a Central Coast resident, has set up a Facebook petition to bring the Bears to Gosford. It has been speculated that the revived foundation club, the North Sydney District Rugby League Football Club, would form part of the Central Coast Bears consortium with several private investors. These are the two other Sydney Rugby League clubs which shared common geographic borders with the Bears, across The Spit and across Sydney Harbour respectively, for much of their existence. These are the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles and the Sydney Roosters, respectively.
The Central Coast Bears have initiated programs with local juniors and schools playing rugby league in the region and have been a big hit with the kids. The Central Coast Bears have 7200 financial members with continuous new members joining weekly. They were aiming for 5000 by March 2011, when the official bid is handed in to the NRL but have since passed that mark in 2010, Mortgage House signed a 3 year deal to sponsor the Central Coast Bears, they are also the major jersey sponsor for the Bears. Ken Sayer, CEO of Mortgage House, plans to underwrite the bid for $10 million to help ensure their financial equity is shored up when the bid is submitted. Both major political parties support the Central Coast Bears bid, with Labour supporting the bid by granting $100,000 for the Bears, and Liberal party supporting the bid by promising to acquire land at Mt. Penang, Central Coast, NSW to build a state of the art, Sports Center of Excellence should the Liberals win the upcoming election.
With weekly membership drives and ongoing community involvement, the Central Coast Bears are targeting entry into the NRL in 2015.
Team of the Century
On 26 August 2006 the club announced their "Team of the Century".
Former Players of Note
- Martin Bella
- Cec Blinkhorn
- Kerry Boustead
- Brett Dallas
- David Fairleigh
- Mario Fenech
- Greg Florimo
- Bill Hamilton
- Ben Ikin
- Ken Irvine
- Peter Jackson
- Les Kiss
- Brian Williams
- Graham Rawlings
- Liam Grady
- Gary Larson
- Denis "Dinny" Lutge
- Don McKinnon
- Billy Moore
- Mark O'Meley
- Jason Taylor
- Duncan Thompson
- Dean Widders
- Billy Wilson
^Did not play first grade for North Sydney, instead played junior representative rugby league for North Sydney after their fold from the NRL
- Chris McKivat^ 1921–22
- Jimmy Devereux 1924
- Arthur Edwards 1933
- Frank Burge^ 1935 & 1945
- Laurie Ward 1937
- Bob Williams^ 1939
- Arthur Halloway 1940–1941
- Roy Thompson 1941
- Jack O'Reilly 1942
- Frank Hyde 1943–1944 & 1950
- Harry Forbes 1946
- Cliff Pearce 1947–1948
- Harry McKinnon 1949
- Laurie Doran, 1951
- Ross McKinnon^ 1952–53 & 1959
- Rex Harrison 1954–1955
- Bruce Ryan^ 1956
- Trevor Allan 1957–1958
- Greg Hawick 1960–1985
- Bob Sullivan 1961–1962
- Fred Griffiths 1963–66
- Billy Wilson 1967
- Colin "Col" Greenwood 1968
- Roy Francis^ 1968–1970
- Merv Hicks 1971–1972
- Noel Kelly^ 1973–76
- Bill Hamilton 1977–1978
- Tommy Bishop^ 1979
- Ron Willey^ 1980–82
- Greg Hawick 1982–1985
- Brian Norton 1985–86
- Frank Stanton^ 1987–89
- Steve Martin^ 1990–92
- Peter Louis^ 1993–99
- Keiran Dempsey^ 1999
^ Did not play first grade for Norths
5 Biggest Wins
- 62 points, 62–0 against North Queensland Cowboys at North Sydney Oval on 23 August 1998
- 54 points, 60–6 against North Queensland Cowboys at North Sydney Oval on 16 April 1995
- 52 points, 64–12 against Balmain Tigers at North Sydney Oval on 30 May 1999
- 52 points, 55–3 against Penrith at North Sydney Oval on, 16 July 1978
- 45 points, 45–0 against Cumberland at Wentworth Park on 25 July 1908
Highest Score Conceded
Most Consecutive Wins
- 9 matches, 24 July 1920 – 14 May 1921
- 9 matches, 13 June – 14 August 1994
Most Consecutive Losses
- 12 matches, 3 June – 26 August 1979
Premierships: (2) 1921, 1922
Runners-Up: (1) 1943
Minor Premierships: (2) 1921, 1922
Finals Appearances: 1908, 1921, 1922, 1928, 1935, 1936, 1943, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1964, 1965, 1982, 1991, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998
Undefeated Season: 1921 (8 games: 7 wins 1 draw)
Reserve Grade Premierships: 1940, 1942, 1955, 1959, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993
Third Grade Premiership [and equivalent competitions]: 1937, 1945, 1946, 1959
President's Cup: 1918, 1933
H 'Jersey' Flegg Memorial Trophy: 1998
Sevens: Runners-Up: 1996, 1997
City Cup: Winners: 1920, 1922 Runners-Up 1913, 1959
League Cup: Runners-Up: 1919
State Championship: Runners-Up: 1945
Pre-season Competition: Runners-Up: 1964, 1966, 1977
Midweek Cup [as Amco Cup]: Runners-Up: 1976
Channel 10 Challenge Cup: Winners: 1978
- George Ambrum 1972
- Martin Bella 1986–1989
- Tom Berecry 1911–1912
- Cec Blinkhorn 1921–1922
- Albert Broomham 1909–1912
- Michael Buettner 1996
- Brian Carlson 1958–1961
- Tedda Courtney 1910
- Arch Crippin 1936
- Brett Dallas 1996
- Sid Deane 1908–1914
- Jim Devereux 1908–1909
- Peter Diversi 1954–1955
- David Fairleigh 1994–1996
- Greg Florimo 1994–1995
- Nevyl Hand 1948–1949
- Harold Horder 1920–1922
- Ben Ikin 1998
- Ken Irvine 1959–1968
- Clarrie Ives 1921–1922
- Peter Jackson 1991–1992
- Les Kiss 1986
- Gary Larson 1995–1997
- Dinny Lutge 1908–1909
- Ken McCaffery 1957
- Don McKinnon 1982
- Keith Middleton 1950
- Billy Moore 1995–1997
- Andy Morton 1908–1909
- Fred Nolan 1937–1938
- Herman Peters 1921–1922
- Tim Pickup 1972–1974
- Con Sullivan 1910–1914
- Bob Sullivan 1954
- Duncan Thompson 1919–1922
- Roy Thompson 1937–1938
- Laurie Ward 1937–1938
- Lloyd Weier 1965–1966
- Billy Wilson 1963
- Dillon, Robert (2009-05-07). "Burraston fears full-time Central Coast team". theherald.com.au. Retrieved 2009-05-24.
- Headon, David (October 1999). "Up From the Ashes: The Phoenix of a Rugby League Literature" (pdf). Football Studies Volume 2, Issue 2. Football Studies Group. Retrieved 2009-07-07.
- "North may pay record bonus". The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia). 1952-09-08. Retrieved 2009-12-05.
- AAP (2010-04-22). "Melbourne Storm salary cap quotes". The Roar (Australia: The Roar Sports Opinion). Retrieved 2010-04-22.
- Koslowski, Michael (25 September 1997). "Field of teams". The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia: Fairfax Media). p. 6. Retrieved 6 February 2011.
- Bears get logo, now for an NRL jersey Adrian Proszenko
- Heighington can bear to wait if Central Coast get up
- "Keneally comes bearing gifts in not-so-unfriendly territory". The Sydney Morning Herald. 31 August 2010.
- Proszenko, Adrian (07-02-2010). "Heavy Hitter". The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia: Fairfax Digital). Retrieved 2010-02-06.
- Andrew Moore, David Middleton, North Sydney Rugby League Football Club (1996). The mighty Bears!: a social history of North Sydney Rugby League. Macmillan. ISBN 0-7329-0869-8, 9780732908690 Check
- Alan Whiticker, Greg Anderson (1988). The History of The North Sydney Bears. Sherborne Sutherland Publishing. ISBN 1-86275-001-7, 9781862750012 Check
- North Sydney Bears at rl1908.com
- North Sydney Bears at rleague.com