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HISTORY OF THE NORTH SYDNEY CLUB

On February 7,1908, the North Sydney Rugby League Football Club was formed. When Mr. H. Glanville moved that the Club be formed and affiliated with the New South Wales Rugby League, (seconded by Mr. D. Murray), North Sydney became the first Sydney club to officially affiliate with that body.

Although Newtown had been the first club to form, Norths were the official recipient of the number one receipt from the New Souths Wales Rugby League. Officials elected at that first meeting were Patron: Mr.G.Clark, M.L.A., President: Mr. J. Fennelly, Vice- Presidents: Messers E. Blue, R. Friend, W. Dunne, C. Ford, and Dr. McKinnon. Secretary: Mr. W. Hedge, Treasurer: Mr. H. Glanville, Committee: J. Abercrombie, J. Devereaux, W. Hunt, S. Deane and A. Odbert.

With the North Sydney Junior Rugby League formed, Messers D. Lutge and A. Odbert were elected as the Club's first delegates to the New South Wales Rugby League. At the same meeting, Mr. Charles Ford was nominated for the position of Vice-President of the N.S.W.R.L. and was duly elected.

North Sydney Oval was secured as the Club's home venue at a cost of one shilling per month per member. In order not to burden the Club's finances any further, the players paid the cost themselves. Sid Deane, who in 1914 went on to be the first Norths' player to Captain Australia, was the first to receive compensation due to loss of wages through injury. He received one pound - a modest amount to pay when considering the question of compensation had been the catalyst for the birth of Rugby League back in 1895.

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.

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).

New South Wales representative Queenslander, Bruce Walker, captained the Bears in the final of the 1976 Amco Cup.

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.

North Sydney remained loyal to the Australian Rugby League during the Super League war of the mid 1990s. In the 1996 ARL season the Bears 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.

Merger Years

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 currently 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 is consisted 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.

Team of the Century

On 26 August 2006 the club announced their "Team of the Century".
Position Player
FB Brian Carlson
WG Ken Irvine
CE Jimmy Devereux
CE Greg Florimo
WG Harold Horder
FE Tim Pickup
HB Duncan Thompson
PR Gary Larson
HK Ross Warner
PR Billy Wilson
SR David Fairleigh
SR Mark Graham
LK Peter Diversi
Bench Sid Deane
Bench Ken McCaffery
Bench Billy Moore
Bench John Gray
Coach Chris McKivat

Former Players of Note

Australia
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
Neville Hand

New South Wales
Mitchell Pearce^

New Zealand
Fred Ah Kuoi
Clayton Friend
Mark Graham
Daryl Halligan
Kieran Foran^
^Did not play first grade for North Sydney, instead played junior representative rugby league for North Sydney after their fold from the NRL

Coaches

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

Club Records

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
Biggest Loss
56 points, 3–59 against Glebe at Wentworth Park on 17 July 1915.
Highest Points
64 points, Norths defeated Balmain Tigers 64–12 at North Sydney Oval on 30 May 1999.
Highest Score Conceded
60 points, Brisbane Broncos defeated Norths 60–6 at QSAC Stadium on 26 April 1998.
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

Club Honours

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

Australian Internationals

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

Supporters

North Sydney Bears supporters had traditionally been described as "long-suffering". Two notable fans are Joe Hockey, Federal politician and Hollywood star Michael Rawlings.