Sunday afternoon at North Sydney Oval

Adam Bagnall Roar Pro

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    The Ken Irvine Scoreboard at North Sydney Oval, pictured here during a cricket match. (Image: Kris Swales).

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    Yesterday, I made the long trek from Port Kembla to North Sydney Oval to cover the Bears and Mounties for the NSWRL, and what a day it was.

    For the record the Bears grabbed a 20-all draw via an 80th minute penalty goal.

    Off I went, using just my phone, because no-one wants to lug a laptop up Miller St, and then through these quaint turnstiles, which were very narrow. Up the stairs to the ground, surrounded by ancient grandstands, a broadcast box which may create some OHS issues, and the famous old fig tree.

    The ground breathes tradition, heritage and all that is good about rugby league – from the architecture, to the reasonable food and drink prices, to the hard wooden benches which were a delight to sit on and take in the action.

    This was my third visit to the famous old ground. The first came back in 2009 when NSW took on Victoria in a Matador BBQs Cup game and about 900 runs were scored, and then in 2012 when the then-Illawarra Cutters took on the Bears in a catch-up game in the NSW Cup.

    My sausage sandwich was as dead as the Bears’ hopes of returning to the NRL, – although I’m sure most would rather have the Bears back than Manly – but it was heaven sitting in the sun as the players ran around, a few former NRL players in Michael Oldfield, Anthony Cherrington and Luke Kelly plying their trade.

    It’s a crying shame that this beautiful ground doesn’t host NRL games anymore and is reduced to reserve grade status, with a couple of hundred die-hards scattered across the hill.

    I’m sure it would need some work done to cater for a crowd of say, 10,000, but it would provide a great day out for old Bears fans and new fans alike.

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