1979 saw changes both on & off the field. Administration wise, Dennis Parker had come on board to supplement the good work done/being done by Vic Cornford, Don Gray & Dick McPherson. The name Northern Districts had recently replaced Bulli-Woonona and the Club had become more professional.
This attracted Coach Michael Kon, a very good player (mostly at Centre Half Back) himself and a shrewd mentor. The star Juniors of the early/mid 70’s had matured and were helped by the addition of 3 above average players from Uni : Leroy Taylor, Graham Shute & David (Snake) Phillips. Sponsorship was provided by Thirroul Workers Club and we were also reaping benefits from weekly Friday night Discos. The Ladies auxiliary was busy raising funds whilst Peter Read was producing a Tigers ROAR magazine which ran for a couple of years.
There was great optimism in the Club and this was reflected in our results, especially in 1 st Grade. With reserves providing pressure to perform, 1sts made the finals. This was despite the lack of lights at Hollymount for most of the year, forcing us to train on a small Rugby League ground. We disposed of Port Kembla in the minor Semi then upset Dapto (who had beaten us by 103 pts earlier in the year) in the final. The Grand Final played at Shellharbour was the one that got away – Wollongong beat us by 15 pts. Some of the players had participated in an ill-timed party the night before. Michael Kon was so disappointed that he never returned to the Club. Kim Capps won his 2 nd B&Fairest award in 1 st Grade.
In 1980, Norths (captain-coached by Leroy) and Port Kembla were the 2 outstanding teams all year and were destined to play in the Grand Final. That game was marred by the most disgraceful act of foul play ever seen in this League – Tigers Best & Fairest winner for the year was knocked senseless from behind by a pre-meditated elbow from Port Kembla’s biggest player when the ball was 100m away. It happened after 5 minutes, the Port “player” got 6 weeks but there was no sin-bin/sendoff rule in those days. The game became a farce of square-ups and unfortunately Norths lost their second straight GF.
Nevertheless, it had been a good year, Snake avenged his runner-up of ’79 with the 1980 1 st Grade B&F while Wayne Casey received the award for Reserves.
For one reason or another we struggled in ’81, there had been a player exodus and coaching instability. Reserve Grade continued to be competitive, this carried through to 1982 when they went within 3 pts of making the Grand Final.
Docca Poole won 1 st Grade B&F in 1981, while in ’82 it was Arthur Edwards.
Reserves saw Max Avery win the award in ’81, Sully in 1982.
The playing group was crying out for an experienced Coach to take over and maximise their potential.
This was just about to happen.