News that the North Sydney Bears are preparing a $7 million bid to take over the Gold Coast Titans franchise will be music to the ears of scores of rugby league fans. But supporters of the extinct club – which played its last season in 1999 before entering into the ill-fated Northern Eagles merger – have witnessed several false dawns over the last decade.
Hope springs eternal, however, and Too Good Tuesday is dedicated to reliving some of the Bears’ greatest days of their last decade in the premiership.
4. June 29, 1997: ‘Flo’ stars as Bears trounce Sea Eagles
In one of the most complete performances in North Sydney history, the Bears demolished archrivals and defending premiers Manly 41-8 at North Sydney Oval midway through 1997. The Bears ran in seven tries to two – including a double to fleet-footed winger Brett Dallas – while Jason Taylor kicked six goals and a field goal. But the day belonged to veteran five-eighth Greg Florimo, who in his 250th first-grade appearance for the club enjoyed arguably his greatest performance, earning a rare perfect ‘10’ rating from Rugby League Week magazine.
3. June 27, 1993: Miracle comeback at Belmore
The long-suffering Bears scored one of the most famous regular season victories in their history against Canterbury in 1993. They trailed the ladder-leading Bulldogs 17-0 after just 23 minutes, but clawed back with three unconverted tries to trail by just five points. Norths winger David Hall dived over for his second touchdown six minutes from fulltime, with referee Bill Harrigan awarding a potential eight-point try after Bulldogs halfback Craig Polla-Mounter dived on Hall late. Craig Makepeace hooked the first conversion attempt wide – his fourth miss from as many attempts – but slotted the second from in front to seal the Bears’ remarkable 18-17 escape.
2. September 3, 1994: Norths sink defending champs in minor semi
After a convincing first-up loss to Canberra in the 1994 finals, Norths went into their minor semi-final showdown with two-time premiers Brisbane as distinct underdogs. The Bears raced to a 14-4 lead during the first half, but the Broncos clawed back to level the scores just after halftime. An engrossing arm-wrestle ensued, with Norths absorbing countless waves of Brisbane attack before Bears captain Jason Taylor slotted a sweet 30-metre field goal with six minutes remaining. Taylor’s one-pointer clinched a euphoric 15-14 win and a preliminary final date.
1. September 1, 1991: Bears down bitter rivals to break finals drought
Norths qualified for their first finals series in nine years by finishing second in 1991, and won their first post-season match in 39 years by outlasting archrivals Manly 28-16 in the major preliminary semi-final. The match was on a knife’s edge at 16-all midway through the second half, but the Bears – of whom only three players had appeared in a finals match previously – kicked away with tries to Billy Moore and David Hall. The win was particularly sweet in light of disparaging remarks made about Norths by prop Martin Bella, who left the Bears to join Manly a year earlier.