ONE of the few North Sydney rugby league fans who can remember the last time the Bears won a premiership celebrated his 100th birthday in Hunters Hill last Thursday.

Ted Ryman was only five when North Sydney won its last grand final in 1922 but he has fond memories of a lifelong loyalty to the club and to Sydney’s lower north shore.

“When we were kids we used to walk down to the oval after half time because back then they used to let kids in for free after half time,” Mr Ryman, who resides at St Anne’s Catholic Aged Care in Hunters Hill,Ê recalls.

“The ground was packed in those days and some kids even used to climb trees to watch the game.

“North Sydney had a famous team back then and although they haven’t won a premiership since, I’m still a fan.”

Born in Bathurst, Ted Ryman came to Sydney as a child and attended Crows Nest Public School and the nearby high school in Falcon Street, North Sydney.

“I was Dux of the School and remember being presented with a six month ticket to the cinema,” he said.

“They were all silent movies then, but it was quite an achievement for me because I was away a lot with asthma, although I’ve always had quite an aptitude for maths.”

Things looked bright for young Ted but then The Great Depression struck and he and his five brothers were jobless.

“There was no work for anyone then, although I found some odd jobs on local building sites before we moved to Mosman,” he said.

“It was not a good time but I do remember the wonder of going outside every day to watch the Sydney Harbour Bridge being built.”

At the start of World War Two, Mr Ryman answered his country’s call for men with engineering ability to go to Mascot and build Australia’s wartime aircraft.

“I worked on the Beaufort, which was a famous bomber that served in New Guinea and we were all very proud of her,” he said.

The war touched his life directly in the winter of 1942 when the Japanese aircraft and submarines attacked Sydney.

“I was at Cremorne when the Japanese submarines came in and sank that ship, I heard all the disturbance at the waterfront in Cremorne and there certainly was a lot of noise down there that night!”

After the war he joined his brother in the local building repair and renovation industry before he found a fulltime job in Ryde.

“I got a job at the pottery works at Quarry Road where they had five kilns and I was there until I retired in 1968.”

His special memory is of more than seven decades of marriage to his late wife Margaret, who recently passed away in St Anne’s Catholic Aged Care in Hunters Hill when she was in her nineties.

“We lived for 54 years at 48 Mary Street in Hunters Hill,” said Mr Ryman.

“My fondest memories are of Hunters Hill.”

Mr Ryman said the two Prime Ministers who achieved the most for Australia in his lifetime are Sir Robert Menzies and Bob Hawke while John Howard brought stability in a time a world upheaval.

“To be frank, I don’t think much of the leadership we have now,” he said.

He said the two greatest changes in his lifetime are the end of The White Australia policy and the development of Sydney into a world renowned city.

“Those skyscrapers in Sydney are inspiring.”

One Australian he does admire is radio presenter Alan Jones and – as an avid tennis player and fan – he admires Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall and John Alexander.

“On weekends I used to play in a tennis competition and we won all grades except A Grade,” he said.

His love for maths and physics has remained all his life and he is proud of the achievements of his son Carl, in the public service.

“My favourite actor is Charlton Heston and my favourite football player is Wally Lewis,” he said.

Once a smoker “like everyone was in those days” Mr Ryman said the secret to living to be 100 is to sleep soundly and refrain from late nights.

“I’m very happy to be at St Anne’s and the wonderful nurses here are very special, Christian people, who come from all over the world.”

Loyal Bears supporter Ted Ryman celebrates his 100th birthday at St Anne’s Catholic Aged Care in Hunters Hill alongside his caring team of Nisha Joshi, Sima Kandel, Nini Oo, Cyrus Sison, Garima Timalsina, Ewarakua Osei, Ann McGrath and Nisha Joshi. TWT on-the-spot PHOTO