The celebration of two heritage Rugby League clubs possessing extremely rich histories will commence this Sunday afternoon, when the North Sydney Bears host the Newtown Jets in the first leg of their annual clash for the Frank Hyde Shield.
Frank Hyde played two seasons for the Jets in 1936-37, and two more seasons for the Bears in 1942-43, as well as playing for the Balmain Tigers in between and representing NSW on five occasions.
He then enjoyed a highly successful media career as a radio broadcaster, but his deep connection with the two clubs that will run out at North Sydney Oval this weekend was topped off in his final year, when Hyde represented the Bears as the captain/coach of the 1943 NSWRL premiership losing side that went down to his former club, the Jets.
There is a piece of Frank Hyde history that is shared in the walls of both the Jets’ and the Bears’ organisations, and North Sydney coach, Ben Gardiner, hopes to see a big crowd at North Sydney Oval this Sunday at 3pm to witness the rich past of Rugby League celebrated at a heritage ground between two heritage clubs.
“This game against Newtown for North Sydney is an important game because firstly its two heritage clubs coming up against each other, both clubs that have been through fairly hard times and fought their way back to have identities within the NSWRL competitions,” Gardiner told NSWRL.com.au.
“Not only do we come up against each other, there’s a reason for us to do it, and that’s the great Frank Hyde. He had a relationship with both clubs, and was one of the great commentators of all time.
“He did a lot of other things in Rugby League as well, so we see this game, as well as the game in a few weeks time as a great opportunity to represent Frank and what he did for the game and what he did for both heritage clubs.”
The Frank Hyde Shield not only adds to the long rivalry of the Bears and the Jets, but it is also a celebration of both clubs.
If that wasn’t enough, the Bears have just released a heritage jersey that they will wear this weekend for the game, a jersey that will be on sale to the public at the ground on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s great that both Newtown and North Sydney can support each other in this particular game for the Frank Hyde Shield, the second leg is in in Round 23 over at Henson Park so both teams get an opportunity at a home game,” Gardiner said.
“We have got a bit of a special uniform for the week, so it’s a pretty important week for us as a club in terms of our organisation.”
Frank Hyde was made a Member of Order of the British Empire in 1974, and a Medal of the Order Of Australia (OAM) in 1990 for his services to Rugby League.
His catch phrase while commentating was “it’s long enough, it’s high enough and its straight between the posts” is a part of Rugby League folklore, and he was awarded the Australian Sports Medal in 2000 for his contribution to the game.
He passed away aged 91 on 24 September 2007, as a true Rugby League icon.
The North Sydney Bears have a catch-cry, which is “respect the past, build the future,” which is exactly the aim with these kind of events, and Gardiner believes the importance of the NSWRL and fans staying in touch with these heritage clubs is imperative.
“Not only is it important for us as a club, but I think it’s really important for NSWRL in general in that we’re a competition that is NSW wide, but a lot of it is in the city areas, and I think it’s important just to make sure that people within Rugby League understand what’s gone before them,” Gardiner said.
“Hopefully we can get a big crowd there on Sunday afternoon at 3pm to really support both clubs which are heritage clubs and are two clubs that need a lot of support.
“It’s membership, it’s coming to the ground and buying your drink and sausage roll or whatever it is that you buy, they’re the important things that we need to make sure both clubs can keep above water and keep moving forward.”
The Bears will go into the match having endured three tight and frustrating losses recently, and are hoping to turn it around in order to get back the Frank Hyde Shield.
Gardiner says that his side are learning from those experiences, and will try and keep things simple heading into the important clash.
“It’s not like its back to the drawing board or anything like that, but this week will be about holding onto the ball, being a little bit better at the start of the game doing the little things right,” Gardiner said.
“I think we’ll be in with a really good chance this match but in saying that, Newtown is a really good side, they’ve been one of the sides that have been lucky enough to keep a similar side on the paddock for most of the weeks of the competition.
“They’ve had a few quiet weeks, but they have had guys to up to NRL and back down from NRL so I would be thinking this week they would have quite a few of those guys back into their team, they’ll be back to near full-strength and that’s a challenge that we like at North Sydney, we’ll have a red hot crack.”
The Frank Hyde Shield is a celebration for two clubs with rich histories within Rugby League, and the present players representing the past will be on show at North Sydney Oval, this Sunday at 3pm.