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The North Sydney Bears are an Australian rugby league football club based in North Sydney, New South Walesmarker. They currently compete in the New South Wales Cup, having exited the top-level National Rugby League competition after the 1999 NRL season. The Bears are based on Sydney's Lower North Shore, and have played at North Sydney Ovalmarker since 1910. There has been speculation that the club could be resurrected in th NRL as the Central Coast Bears, based in Gosford, New South Walesmarker.

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 premiership 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 currently in partnerships with the Rabbitohs, taking the place of Souths reserve grade. Up 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 Denis "Dinny" Lutge, Jimmy Devereaux and Sid Deane were lost to English clubs in the few 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 1921-1922 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 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 Tooth Cup.

The Nineties saw finals appearances and near misses in 1991, and 1993-1998. Come the start of 1999 the future looked bright, plans to move to the Central Coastmarker were well underway, but the unfortunate outcome of the Super League war was a criterion designed to reduce the number of Sydneymarker teams. To the puzzlement of most Rugby League fans Norths became the junior partners to bitter rivals Manly-Warringah in a joint venture hastily convened in late 1999.

Merger years

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 larely based on the old Manly colours, another reason most Bears' fans refused to support the joint venture.

The joint venture club played out of North Power Stadiummarker (now Blue Tongue Central Coast Stadium) at Gosfordmarker, a ground largely developed by the Bears and Brookvale Ovalmarker, 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.

The Central Coast Bears

There is a movement among Bears' fans for a return to first-grade Rugby League, with the North Sydney Bears moving to Gosfordmarker (on the Central Coast, New South Walesmarker) and becoming the Central Coast Bears. The Bears bid committee is currently in the process of lobbying the NRL for inclusion as the next expansion team. They are headed up by Perry Lopez and Greg Florimo and likely to be backed by John Singleton.The proposed team would play 10 games in Gosfordmarker and 2 games at North Sydney Oval (obviously against Manly and one other Sydney team). North Sydney legend David Fairleigh would become the inaugural coach. Prominent rugby league personalities who have publicly back 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.

North Sydney 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. Part of the plan, as revealed by Bears officials in 2009, is that ten home games would be played at Gosford, with two traditional clashes, likely to be against fierce rivals Manly and foundation club the Sydney Roosters, played at the spiritual home of Norths, North Sydney Ovalmarker. These are the two other Sydney Rugby League clubs which shared common geographic borders with the Bears, across The Spit and across Sydney Harbourmarker respectively, for much of their existence.

Team of the Century

On the 26th of 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


New Zealand



^ Did not play first grade for Norths

Club Records

Club Records

5 Biggest Wins

Biggest Loss

Highest Points

Highest Score Conceded

Most Consecutive Wins
  • 9 matches, July 24, 1920 - May 14, 1921
  • 9 matches, June 13 - August 14, 1994

Most Consecutive Losses
  • 12 matches, June 3 - August 26, 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

2008 Results from NSDRLFC

Joint NSDRLFC-MWDRLFC Grand Finals

  • A Grade : Berowra 22 Valley 14
  • A Reserves: Valley 16 Berowra 6
  • U19: Berowra 40 Christian Brothers 4
  • U17: Cromer 32 Manly Cove 28
  • U16: North Curl Curl 36 Willoughby 8

NSDRLFC Grand Finals

  • A3: Cromer 16 Nth Ryde 12
  • U/15: Berowra 28 Asquith 12
  • U/13: Berowra 26 Hills Hawks 24
  • U/12: Pennant Hills/Cherrybrook 26 Hills Hawks 10
  • U/11: Pennant Hills/Cherrybrook Red 34 Berowra 0
  • U/10: Pennant Hills/Cherrybrook 18 Asquith 12
  • U/9: Berowra Maroon 26 Willoughby 18

See also


  1. Bears get logo, now for an NRL jersey Adrian Proszenko
  2. Facebook Central Coast Bears petition group
  3. Heighington can bear to wait if Central Coast get up

Further reading

External links

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