Johnson & Dears take honours


New North Queensland recruit Karl Johnson and Jersey Flegg captain Chris Dears have been named '2006 North Sydney Player of the Year' in Premier League and Jersey Flegg respectively.

Held on the night of Friday 15th September the North Sydney Bears 2006 Player Awards held a night of passion, humour and sadness for the hard working crew of the North Sydney Club.

General Manager Greg Florimo opened the proceedings with a thank you to the Club's major Sponsors the Norths Leagues Club and J.J. Lawson and the Board of Directors of the Football Club.

Next a big thank you to the hardcore of supporters some of whom attended the night and received a small trophy of appreciation for their big effort in supporting the Bears over 26 massive rounds in 2006.

A minutes silence was held for Jim Brannigan who only passed away recently. Together with his wife Molly he manned the gate at home matches over the last two seasons.

Then a thank you from Flo to the people behind the players, the friends and family who supported them over a long and tough season. Then the focus of the night turned to the men who played for the Bears in 2006.

Jersey Flegg Coach Steve Carter was reflective of his stint at Norths, "I think we all learnt a lot this year. Highlights included wins against Wests and Parramatta at home and we had 6 players make Premier League. Steve thanked trainers Trevor Perrin and John Peaua for their dedication and invited them up to the stage to help present the awards.

Tupou Peaua received the 'Most Consistent Player' award. A great achievement for a player who missed all but one match for the season. Alternating between centre, prop and second row Greg Florimo praised his 'versatility off the bench".

Top try scorer Bladen Baird (11 tries for the season) won 'Best Back' for 2006. His lengthy runs to the try line not only garnered points but lifted his team to some of their best victories.

Respected second rower Arnold Mano won 'Best Forward' of the year for Jersey Flegg. Arnold received kudos from both coaches for leading by example.

Finally Chris Dears who played all 24 matches in 2006 received the coveted 'Player of the Year' award. "He's a gentleman. He impressed with his attitude both on and off the field and has the ability to be a success both in football and life" commented Greg Florimo. 2006 Premier League Coach Josh White was then called up to the dais. His often humorous and always entertaining commentary on the season reflected the great friendships that had come out of a relatively tough season.

"It's been a roller coaster year. We all tried hard and had fun which is important [I believe if you've not having fun you should not be playing football]. Thank you for the hard work this season. Kudos to all of you having to work all day [some hard physical work] while some opposition players are taking a taxi to have a massage" said Josh White!

Josh congratulated the young Jersey Flegg players who made the grade in Premier League in 2006, Liam Foran, James Maloney, Arnold Mano, Bladen Baird and Chris Dears was "outstanding". Josh thanked his coaching staff; Michael Pobjie "great Bloke and a good friend", Jamie Papa "great knowledge of training, knows how to prepare for a match", Mick Tonello "a great statistician and always ready with a comment", Trent Rosa "Has a great knowledge of the game" and Brendan Travers "A great bloke to have around".

Missing only one match this season right centre Karl Johnson garnered both the Player of the Year and Players' Player awards. Karl's in your face and aggressive attack has not only impressed his club but also North Queensland coach Graham Murray where KJ is headed in 2007.

Coming into his own in the second half of the season left centre Daniel Watkins was awarded 'Best Back'. Despite only playing 16 matches Dan's scoots and metres gained for the year were comparable to a full season of footy.

Contributed by sponsor the Supporters' Player of the Year award includes a cash prize of $500. Bears Hooker Ben Ellis received the dual honours of 'Best Forward' and 'Supporters' Player of the Year' awards. Accomplished in attack and outstanding in defence his 1066 tackles for the season and similar work in 2005 leaves an outstanding legacy at the North Sydney Club.

PICTURED: Forward Chris Dears receives his 'Player of the Year' award.
From left: Trevor Perrin, Chris Dears, John Peaua, Steve Carter.
PHOTO: Steve Little.