North Sydney Bears teammates reunite 50 years on

Men of League Foundation Wellbeing Officers Fred Jackson (Northern Sydney Committee) and Warren Thompson (Sydney Metro Committee) were very pleased to see John McDonnell in good spirits and recovering well at home after recently suffering a stroke. Fred, who also works as a volunteer at the NRL Museum, brought along numerous copies of programs and articles from John’s rugby league career to brighten John’s day. John is being spoiled by his lovely wife Janet and the four of them enjoyed each other’s company over coffee and scones.

John came to Sydney to play for Manly from his hometown of Berry in 1965. He then switched to the North Sydney Bears from 1968 to 1972. Originally a centre, his strong defence and hard running along with a tireless work ethic allowed an easy transition to becoming a powerful lock forward. He was keen to play in the forwards and when Manly did not agree to his request to play in the pack it forced his hand to move to the Bears, where he quickly proved to be one of the best locks in the competition.
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John was highly respected in every team he played for and a highlight of his was the honour to captain Canterbury in the 1974 grand final against East Sydney. The time went so quickly as the four of them reminisced about the days gone by. In fact, John and Warren were teammates at North Sydney exactly 50 years ago. Both old mates agreed that given time over they would not change anything as those were great times in their lives.

John was presented with the official Men of League polo shirt and will hopefully be back on deck soon with the support of his wife Janet and his positive attitude.

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