Sunday afternoon at North Sydney Oval

Adam Bagnall Roar Pro

By Adam Bagnall, Adam Bagnall is a 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.

    If you could choose from any and every NRL player in the competition, who would you pick in your rugby league dream team? Let us know with our team picker right here, and be sure to share it with all your league-loving mates.

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    The Crowd Says (10)

    • Roar Guru

      July 18th 2017 @ 8:52am
      Kashmir Pete said | July 18th 2017 @ 8:52am | ! Report


      Many thanks for article, delightful.


    • July 18th 2017 @ 8:58am
      Andrew said | July 18th 2017 @ 8:58am | ! Report

      Great cricket ground. Awful ground for rugby league. Keep it for reserve grade and those who enjoy nostalgia.

    • July 18th 2017 @ 9:19am
      Big Daddy said | July 18th 2017 @ 9:19am | ! Report

      Has more atmosphere than ANZ by a mile

    • July 18th 2017 @ 10:00am
      Birdy said | July 18th 2017 @ 10:00am | ! Report

      If my memory serves me right, the stands were transported from the SCG to Bear park before its first upgrade.
      When i was a kid sitting on those old wooden seats was a luxury.we used to sneak boxes in to stand on.
      Long live nostalgia.
      On a different note, i notice you are from Pt Kembla Adam.
      They were one of the power houses of the Illawarra league.
      Where are they now?
      Limited what you can find on the internet. I cant even find Illawarra GF team lists pre 85.

    • Roar Guru

      July 18th 2017 @ 10:56am
      JGK said | July 18th 2017 @ 10:56am | ! Report

      I spend many hours at NSO in the 80s and 90s with my grandfather and uncle who were long suffering Bears fans. So I am very fond of it.

      However, the ground is too small to play first grade league – the in goal areas are tiny and pretty much lead straight into the pickets – far too dangerous for the elite athletes in first grade.

    • July 18th 2017 @ 3:59pm
      KiwiBear said | July 18th 2017 @ 3:59pm | ! Report

      Great Article.
      I am a life long Bears fan from NZ and regret that I never got to see a game at NSO back in the Winfield Cup/NSWRL era. Back then I was too young and poor to travel over to Aus but have great memories of watching games broadcast on TVNZ 2. Graeme Hughes and Graham Lowe did the commentary back in those days! Now I live in Melbourne and come up and watch a few game here and there. It is a great ground.!

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