Don McKinnon Interview – Heritage Jersey Unveiled for the Frank Hyde Shield

It’s known by various names “That 70s Jersey”, “The Norths Leagues Jersey”, “The Avco Jersey”, or “The Old 3 Quarter Sleeve”. It took the Bears to third place in 1982 and 1991. It featured in one of the biggest selling Rugby League VHS tapes “The Amazing 1991 Performing Bears” and it is still one of the best-selling retro jerseys for the NRL. The Bears won the Channel Ten Challenge Cup of 1978 in the strip but contrary to popular myth the Bears did not win the AMCO Cup. They were runners up for that competition in 1976 playing in the hooped jersey.

The all red with semi-psychedelic boxed black stripes laid over the shoulders, usurped the horizontal hooped jersey (similar to the current home strip) in 1979. In Round 19 of the 2016 Intrust Super Premiership, the Bears played the Newtown Jets for the Frank Hyde Shield. For this match, a modern re-visioning of the classic three Quarter Sleeve was introduced in the 2016 season and can be purchased in our merchandise store. PLEASE NOTE: Orders must be received before Wednesday 21st Dec 2016 for delivery before Christmas.

We interviewed Don McKinnon, one of the most loved and successful players to wear that jersey when he visited the Bears shed to present the jersey to the Team.

So Donny How did it come about that you were going to hand out the jersey’s to the North Sydney Bears Team?

Don McKinnon: The Norths Newtown battle has been going on since 1908. My old man played for the Bears back in the 30s and 40s and played with Frank Hyde in the 1943 grand final along with my uncle, also Don McKinnon. Frank was the captain/coach and played for Newtown and Norths, and Balmain for that matter. Flo [Greg Florimo] asked me to come down and talk to the players about the tradition between Norths and Newtown, and I was happy to do it.

So there’s a lot of connections there, and another is the jersey that you would have spent a bit of time in.

DM: Yes I think that Jersey started in 1979. We had the red and black bars before that. In my whole career at Norths, I played in that Jersey so there were some good memories in handing it out to the players.

So what was the mood like in the change rooms, did it take a while?

DM: I just told them a few blood and guts stories of the old Newtown and Norths days. We had a bit of a laugh and just reinforced the tradition of two foundation clubs playing against each other. I also told them that this is a pathway to the NRL. I didn’t play first grade regularly till I was 23. Guys that are 21, 22, 23 they still have a chance to make it into the NRL. The Premiership [Intrust Super Premiership] is a great opportunity for a lot of these guys to get noticed and be brought up to the NRL.

One more question, how are you calling today’s match?

DM: I’m hoping the Bears have a convincing victory!

The Jets overcame a shaky start to win decisively over the Bears 32-14.

At any rate, It’s one of the greatest and most iconic jerseys from the Rugby League’s first successful period of the modern era, but is it a heritage jersey? Only time will tell.

Purchase the North Sydney Bears 2016 Heritage Players Jersey in the merchandise store.