It’s been an ongoing debate for the past few years about the possibility of bringing back the North Sydney Bears and putting them on the Gold Coast. With the recent news about relocation and the Gold Coast Titans being one of the teams in discussion, is now an opportunity for a deal between North Sydney and Gold Coast and is it something that could work?
Gold Coast is a team currently playing with no pride or passion for the jersey they’re wearing. There are certain players that will go and give it their all each round, but that unified sense of playing as one seems to be lacking.
2016 saw Neil Henry take Gold Coast to their first finals appearance in years and it looked like he was on the path to turning the club around and having them play as team, but due to off-field issues, it ultimately fell apart. With Justin Holbrook set to take charge at the helm, he faces the difficult task of salvaging the Titans and hopefully build them into something special.
One of the benefits of the Gold Coast Bears is a culture and legacy that the Titans don’t have. The long history of the North Sydney Bears and their 90 years in the first-grade competition, and more years with their continuation in the lower grades, the Bears immediately bring something that is missing on the Gold Coast.
They bring pride in the jersey and a respect for history. There has always been talk about why people move to the Gold Coast to play footy, is it because of the love they have for the club or is it the pay check and great destination?
Even with other young clubs in the NRL, there is something instilled into the jerseys. Wearing a North Queensland Cowboys jersey is going out and representing a rugby league heartland where fans will travel hours to watch them play. Legends like Thurston and Bowen poured their sweat into the jersey to help make it something meaningful.
Melbourne has instilled a high expectation and work ethic that comes with wearing their jersey. You don’t go to Melbourne for a nice payday to play mediocre football, you’re there as another cog in the machine pushed to work hard and keep the juggernaut going.
But what does it mean to be a Gold Coast Titan? Being a Gold Coast Bear is a chance to play for a rich history. To put on the famous red and black strip and run out onto the field knowing what the Bears meant and still mean to diehard footy fans is motivation to give it your all.
Queensland and Bears legend, Billy Moore, has been campaigning for the Gold Coast Bears to be a reality for a long time now. Even recently he has continued to share his opinion on the subject.
If more North Sydney veterans share his same opinion and show their support, then having the backing of influential former players is another motivation for the players to run out onto the field.
It brings an identity to a club that struggles with knowing exactly what its identity is. Some North Sydney Bears fans might be against the idea, and that’s understandable, but while it’s not getting the exact team they love back into the NRL, it does bring its history back and potentially a game or two could be played each year at the old North Sydney Oval.
And current fans of the Gold Coast Titans might be against it too. Especially those that have bought into the Titans brand. But if the Gold Coast Bears is a success then it keeps a team in the city for fans to attend, a chance for Gold Coast juniors to play in their area.
In a perfect world, Justin Holbrook comes in and turns everything around. And I wish him all the best and hope he succeeds. There have been times in the past where the Titans have shown success so it’s something that can be done.
But the benefits of having the Bears brand, the history and passion that comes with it could be what’s needed to take Gold Coast and turn them into a powerhouse club in the NRL.
Running out onto the field each week and knowing that you’re connected to a history that includes players such as the great Ken Irvine, Cec Blinkhorn, Garry Larson and many more brings meaning to the jersey that Gold Coast currently don’t have.
It brings a stronger sense of purpose. No longer are you just going to the coast because of the great beaches and nightlife, you’re going there with an expectation that was set by the greats of yesteryear.
The idea of the Gold Coast Bears might lead to nothing. It’s a gamble. But Gold Coast are reaching a point where they might need to take a gamble to ensure survival.
A partnership between the current Titans owners and owners of the North Sydney Bears could be beneficial to both parties, an opportunity to make new history while also showing respect to the red and black heritage of the past.