in red and black -
2nd January 2003
(Credit: The Sydney
Morning Herald - Footy Folklore)
The new year will bring the return of an icon. Alex
Buzo is celebrating already.
applause at the Independant Theatre sounded different
from the applause across the road at North Sydney
Oval, but the CEOs of each, Doris Fitton and Harry
McKinnon, were remarkably similar.
on your point of view, they "epitomised the bulldog
breed" or were "as stubborn as a mule on
the 1930s to the 1980s they gave the lower North Shore
much of its character. They would not have been pleased
to see the Independant used for speech days and North
Sydney Oval become the home of Soccer. Relief, however,
is at hand.
2003 North Sydney will once again play Rugby league
in the red and black at Bear Park. The only victim
of the league wars, Norths will be playing in first
division. For logicians and the uninitiated, it should
be pointed out that Australia A is the B team, and
First Division is second grade.
coach of the bears will be Gary Larson, who joined
as a player in 1990 and was in the thick of the clubs
most successful decade, in which it made finals almost
every yea, only to fall into oblivion. Larson looked
like a backpacker who opted to play league instead
of going fruit picking when he first turned out for
Norths. But with his snowy hair and horse voice, plus
a work rate to die for, the man Roy and H.G dubbed
"Far side" is almost as much a legend as
his brother-in-law Greg "Go with the Flo"
further boost has been provided by filmmaker Richard
Bradley with his video series, The mighty Bears, the
third volume of which has just been released. Bradley
claims this is the most comprehensive social and sporting
history ever put together.
interweaves film of Norths in action with interviews,
commentaries and song into a masterpiece of its kind.
is database for rugby league film, nor any archive
as such," he says. "Most of the footage
I used has not been seen since it was shown live."
Many of the interviewees - Roy Francis, Fred Griffiths,
Harry Kadwell, Kelvin Nash - won't be seen live again
either, but they were great characters and their contribution
to the club and the region is infinite.
videos contain the frankest, spookiest and funniest
interviews ever seen with sports people. Bradley approached
a wide range of personalities, from academic Andrew
Moore to "bad boy" Doug McKinnon, the player
who vaulted the fence at North Sydney Oval to remonstrate
with a heckler.
character of Norths is tantalisingly mysterious. Some
believe that the Kameraigal tribe, who gave their
name to Camerray, put a curse on North Sydney Oval.
The team has always been likely to topple premiers
and lose to wooden spooners. What attracted Bradley
to the club, which he has followed since going to
Neutral Bay Primary School, was its Bohemian panache.
"They founded this club in 1908 out of economic
necessity and just for the hell of it," he says.
dispute between pay television and free to air resulted
in the forced merger with Manly and then the fraticide
that saw Norths disappear into the Central Coast.
Long time fans were distraught, but now they have
the bears back - both in the flesh and on film. Even
if the clubs bid to join first grade as the Central
Coast Bears in 2005 is successful, the red and blacks
will still play a quota of games at North Sydney Oval
on Friday nights.
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