Peter V'landys admission about Bears exposes grim truth for legion of fans

Plenty of Bears fans have boycotted the NRL after the demise of their beloved team.

Pictured left to right is Peter V'Landys and lifelong Bears rugby league Dean Knowsley.
Peter V'Landys' recent comments about the Bears returning to the NRL have left disgruntled fans like Dean Knowsley daring to dream. Pic: Getty/Supplied

Meet the rugby league tragic who hasn’t watched an NRL match for 25 years. Dean Knowsley has boycotted the game he once loved for the past quarter of a century following North Sydney's omission from the competition in 1999.

Call it a protest or call it a lack of interest, but the 49-year-old can’t stomach supporting a game that turned its back on him and thousands of devoted North Sydney fans. News this week NRL chairman Peter V'landys is pushing for the Bears' return to the big time – in partnership with an out-of-Sydney franchise – has given Knowsley renewed hope.

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But until then, his rugby league ban will remain in place. "I have this reoccurring dream that I go on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and they're going to ask me an absolute bonehead question like who won last year's Origin or who won last year's grand finals and I haven’t got a clue," Knowsley told Yahoo Sport Australia.

"I don't know and I don't care. Literally, after that last Norths game in '99, that was it for me and rugby league." It's not easy ignoring rugby league 24/7, 365 days a year.

Demise of Bears in the NRL left fans shattered and angry

Especially given Knowsley lives in rugby league heartland – Newcastle – after growing up deep in North Sydney territory and supporting the red and blacks since 1982. "I just blank out anything NRL. I scroll past mates' Facebook posts and turn the radio or tele off or to a different station if it comes on," he explained.

"The rest of my family feels the same way. We followed rugby league because of the Bears and they took that away from us. They under-estimated what it meant to be a Bears supporter. You were into the Bears because they were the Bears.

"We didn't always win but you stuck with them and they were in your blood. There's no way I was going to migrate to another team when they were gone and I know thousands of Norths fans who think the same way."

Knowsley is the sort of fan V'landys hopes to win back by returning the foundation club to the NRL. Asked if he would over-turn his rugby league ban should the Bears be reinstated, Knowsley responded: "Absolutely. I’d be back in a heartbeat and I know thousands of other who would as well."

Pictured left is Bears rugby league tragic Ross Pitman.
Ross Pitman is another lifelong Bears fan that is dreaming of the day when his beloved club returns to the NRL. Pic: Supplied/Getty

Lifelong Norths fan Ross Pitman, who is an administrator on the club's 8000-strong Facebook group The Den, is one of them. "The PVL announcement is exciting as it him who has initiated the conversation and proves that he has been listening and understands the game has lost a lot of supporters," he said.

"We are all anxious and waiting for that opportunity to get back to the promised land. It's been a frustrating and agonising time for all."

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