SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 30: David Peachey of the Bears walks off the ground after playing his last rugby league match after the 2007 Premier League Grand Final between the Parramatta Eels and the North Sydney Bears at Telstra Stadium September 30, 2007 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

Central Coast and North Sydney – the area the NRL forgot.

It is said there are far too many Sydney teams in the NRL. The South, East and West are all represented. The North is only represented by Manly. Leaving the Greater North unrepresented and forgotten.

It’s not often you hear the words the forgotten North Shore of Sydney. Sydney’s Northern Suburbs are more affiliated with the rich and privileged with private schools more associated with Rah Rah the 15 man game.

Rugby league is a game loved by millions North of the Bridge. Stretching from Milson’s Point and up to the Central Coast and beyond.

The North Sydney Bears were a team beloved by many on Sydney’s North. The perennial bad luck loses. Playing out of the beautiful historic North Sydney Oval.

In 1994, they were a game away from playing a Grand Final and just a few months away from the start of the Super League Wars. The War that would eventually lead to the demise of the Bears.

Since their extinction in 1999, Bears fans have either stopped supporting Rugby League altogether or have little interest in the game.Β Die hard fans who would have supported a relocated Central Coast Bears if it had eventuated.

The Central Coast were ready to welcome the Bears to their new purpose built stadium in 1999 Unfortunately, this didn’t happen and the Bears were the first collateral damage of the Super League War.

Instead of the Bears, a dysfunctional merger between two bitter rivals from Sydney’s North the Bears and Manly Warringah Sea Eagles were implanted on the Coast in 2000. With neither entity including the Coast ever truly invested the Northern Eagles met their inevitable demise two seasons later.

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Manly rose from the ashes and reformed as a single entity again and returned to Brookvale. The Bears were not so fortunate and never recovered leaving their legions of fans and Central Coast League supporters without a team for the past 16 years.

During that time Bears and Coast fans have watched on while the Gold Coast Titans jumped the queue and are continually disappointed that talk of Perth and Brisbane being the next in line instead of the Central Coast Bears being reinstated.

The NRL has no appetite for a Central Coast team. The only hope in reality is a Sydney team relocating. However, with funds from the latest TV deal and the eventual record breaking next deal it is unlikely a Sydney team would ever need to relocate.

This means Sydney’s North and Central Coast could be without representation for decades to come. The Bears live on only as an entity as a feeder club for South Sydney in the NSW Intrust Super Competition.

Desperate to keep the Bears brand alive the Bears explored the option of buying into the Gold Coast Titans and could potentially bid for a Perth expansion team licence in future.

The Bears have also floated an idea of a Promotion / relegation for the NRL. Although the idea has merit it would be highly unlikely to be supported by existing clubs.

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Sadly for Bears fans and the Central Coast the reality of having a team in the NRL is almost non existent. The biggest losers of not having a localised NRL team are local families and local Juniors.

The local juniors who can’t represent their area. A region similar to the size of Penrith and greater western Sydney. Albeit, both Manly and Roosters have pathways for local youth out of necessity for their own benefit.

North Sydney and the Central Coast are the forgotten supporters. When the NRL trot out how great the game is going and have pie charts to prove it, let them be reminded Β that they have an area of Sydney/ Central Coast whom represent their main demographic not represented.

I have suggested that the NRL start a nine’s competition including the Bears. At least this would keep the Bears alive for the interim and give the area representation.

With AFL being very aggressive and progressive with endless supplies of funds, it wouldn’t surprise me that the AFL has a team on the Central Coast before the NRL do.Β Call me nuts, but it could be decades before a Central Coast team is wanted by the NRL. A lot can happen in that time.

For Central Coast League fans I hope they get an NRL team in the foreseeable future and that team is the Bears.

Tell me what you think! Do you want a team on the Central Coast and should it be the Bears?

11 COMMENTS

  1. The Roosters have not forgotten these regions, after giving a few years to the people of the Central Coast we are now giving to the region of the Bears. But Bears remember in front of royalty at the SCG in 1977 the Roosters captain coached by Arthur Beetson defeated Norths 13-9 captain coached by Bill Hamilton in front of the Queen of England in the Wills Cup Final…Just don’t forget Bear fans. “Rooster is KING” watch the short video below of what Roosters can do to other creatures.

    • Woody, I didn’t realise that you actually had footage of you as a boy when you were attacked by a wererooster called “Gregory Peck”. I’m not only amazed that the footage is in colour but that you even had video cameras back then before there were even “talkies”.

      Proof that you must be an alien, Woody, after all. πŸ‘½

  2. This debacle is the result of the ugly Americans super league war. The greedy desire by the controller of one news organisation to dominate Rugby League has ongoing ramifications. Norths are just hanging on in the lesser competitions, Balmain and Wests have had to dilute their identity with the West Tigers with the Balmain side almost sunk due to financial difficulties that have resulted largely from the super league debacle. And for all this the ugly American is still allowed to have his fingers in the pie.

    The NRL needs the Central Coast and the North Shore. The Bears should be reinstated to NRLs top completion ASAP along with one other team. The competition should be split in two with each team playing each other twice and the winner of each competition to play in a grand final.. Every five years the competitions should be redrawn to ensure that over time all teams will play each other. Oh yes, remove the ugly Americans organisations from any coverage of Rugby League.

  3. If Roosters rebrand as East Sydney, Wests become Western Sydney and we have already South Sydney it makes sense to have a North Sydney team.
    Unless 2 Sydney teams merge willingly to create an opening the fans gained will be counted out by fans lost from the existing side that is killed off.
    But the NRL are looking at the money from expansion into Perth first and a second Brisbane side.
    Money talks and until North Sydney have bucket loads of it or the NRL sees it can be a cash cow for them it sadly ain’t gonna happen.

  4. In Queensland, we have the Broncs and Titans, basically on the NSW Border at the far bottom of the state and then we have the Cowboys in Townsville at the far Nth of the State. The distance between the two is 1300+ kilometres. In between these two points are an army of NRL fans that cannot get to see an NRL game without devoting a full weekend of travel and accomodation. I live in Bundaberg (Hess, the Kaufusi boys, Gary Larsen etc) 500ks to Brisbane and I used to live in Rockhampton (Munster, Glasby, Ben Hunt, Rhyse Wesser, Matt Sing, Dave Taylor etc) 800ks to Townsville. To watch a live NRL match is a very costly and time consuming endeavour. I have lived and worked in Sydney and all too often I would attend games and the stands were less than half full. There are far too many Sydney clubs and the NRL must start to divest and move clubs to areas where they are appreciated and can help spread the game that to the fans. I think that one or two Sydney clubs actually made a profit last year and they need to be heavily subsidised. Central Queensland is one of the richest areas of the country largely due to the mining and gas, Cattle and Agriculture and Tourism industries. There are $$$$ on offer and a bid had been put in place for a Rockhampton based team but place like Ipswich, Perth and Brisbane seemed destined to win out. Try booking a accomodation in Townsville during the footy season on Cowboys home game weekends. It’s almost impossible, due to the number of fans driving for hours on end to attend the games. If it wasn’t for the Free to air TV coverage I think it would have gone the way of Australian Rugby Union and disappeared from the landscape on Fox and beyond. If you don’t have Fox then you only get to see maybe two games a week on Free to air. Its a joke. rant ends

  5. @ Scorpy

    Bundaberg, perfect! “The Bundy Bears”, problem solved! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

    I was thinking that in order to attract the QLD corporate dollars in Brisbane and to capitilise on the larger population a team in Toowoomba or Redcliffe would have been more viable but I am all for supporting regional communities provided that they can get behind a new club and continue to support it through thick and thin like the Knights and Cowboys. not so much the Titans whose crowd support ebbs and flows and although they have a population in the Gold Coast of around 600K plus on the Central Coast that only has a population of 400K plus the crowd attendance is constant and more often than not filled to capacity.

    @ StormFanAdam

    I’m all for re-branding the Roosters, after all, it won’t be the first time that they have changed their brand. How about the “Chistmas Island C0ckerels”? πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

    Also, Wests’ territory encompasses Campbelltown to Sydney’s south so they are more representative of south-western Sydney while Parramatta and Penrith already have western Sydney covered. Something you may have been unaware of if you are a Storm supporter living in Melbourne.

    Simply put, sadly the “Inconvenient Truth” is that there are too many teams in Sydney and expansion of the game nationally necessitates a thinning of the heard. This really $uck$ for long time supporters of old clubs that have helped to make the game what it is today, including the two remaining foundation clubs, but it does not change the fact that sometimes to build you have to first tear down.

  6. Why cant Bears fans just accept their club is not coming back??? If i recall correctly it was bankruptcy that forced them into the merger that ultimately killed their club, it wasnt as though they copped some raw deal from the NRL in some way or they are the first club to be dissolved. Perhaps if they got behind the Northern eagles they would have a team to support. As Scorpy explains the Central Coast arent exactly the only region without a local team to support. Furthermore there arent a lot of corporate dollars to pursue on the Central Coast unlike Perth and various Qld locations. Whilst this may not be true for North Sydney, I doubt anyone thinks another Sydney team is a good idea.

    • @swooping magpie
      You are 100% correct. Bankruptcy and a debt of 4 million dollars North Sydney to creditors that Manly eventually paid out. Manly also paid out honoured the North Sydney contracts of Adam Muir, Billy Moore, Gary Larson (as retired) and others in 2000, then contracted them back again…. back to the Northern Eagles for even more money.
      Super League….where people could watch Freddy Fittler and the Roosters play league in Japan. My god Super League smoked some heavy stuff in 1999. Though head of the NRL John Quayle wanted nearly all Sydney clubs to merge but knew he would be ousted if he rushed it. So he let Super League and Murdoch take the rap. Murdoch and Foxtel decided to bypass the NRL and Quayle and sign most of the Canberra Raiders, (Meninga, Stuart, Clyde), Bulldogs, Sharks, Panthers etc on $500-600Kk a year. It was sickening to watch them all line up for their cheques. That is where the game ceased to be for the people and greed and abuse of power took over and the war began. TV rights now rule all that Rugby League represents. NRL now ask “How will this decision affect TV rights” instead of building the game around what the people want. Even The Bunker is designed to take longer than necessary because all those reviews take time, extending the broadcast time, and tipping more advertising money toward the TV stations. I would love to see Norths return. But I would love to see the West Tigers revert back to the Fibro Magpies at Campbelltown and win the Amco Cup just as they did in 1977, the Balmain Tigers at Leichhardt and the Newtown Jets at Henson park…..sadly Norths return will never happen. I do miss the Bears.

  7. Oh come on! Sydney already has 9 clubs and NSW 10. There is no way in hell you need another one! The forgotten NRL heartland is in Brisbane. Brisbane city has a club, but Brisbane South, North and West have nothing. Then there are all the satellite cities that all have populations in the hundreds of thousands – Redcliffe/Moreton, Logan, Ipswich, Toowoomba, Sunshine Coast.

    The Gold Coast deserves another team before Sydney does

    • @ Beergardener

      Any chance you found your handle at the bottom of a glass in The Victory Hotel beer garden? I used to visit the place a fair bit when I lived up in Brisbane for 4 years. Anyway, your name brought back memories along with the mention of Redcliffe. I lived 200 metres from Dolphin oval. I couldn’t stand The Caxton Hotel though. Too many QLDers! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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