In the ten seasons after amalgamation Northern Suburbs’ first grade team played in three first grade finals, losing two and winning one.
After finishing as minor premiers and defeating Western Suburbs in the semi-final, the Club’s first grade team under the captaincy of Nick Lutovac came up against Eastern Suburbs in the final.
Eastern Suburbs were dismissed for the moderate total of 177 with the best of the bowlers being Glenn Murphy with 3 for 60 off 28 overs. In reply Norths were in trouble at 6 for 87 but were held together by a superb innings by Geoff Cooke. The turning point came when Geoff was dismissed for 62 with the score at 9 for 165.They were finally dismissed 13 runs s when short – “so close and yet so far away”.
Under the captaincy of Matthew Wilks, Northern had finished the competition rounds as minor premiers, losing only one match to Western Suburbs. After defeating Eastern Suburbs in the semi-final, Northern were opposed to Western Suburbs in the final.
Following an opening partnership of 145 between Matthew Brennan (115) and Terry Crittenden (85), Western Suburbs were dismissed for 321. As the West batsmen chased quick runs at the end of the innings, Northern made a strong fight back to take six wickets for just seven runs.
In reply Northern at one stage were 5 for 226 with Jamie Elphick scoring 51, Mark Meskauskas 60 and Brett Ward 38, with Tony Fort still at the crease, Northern supporters still held out hope. However, the side was all out for 281, with Tony 65 not out.
Following a washout in the semi-final against Raymond Terrace, Northern Suburbs as minor premiers, with Paul Dyson as captain, progressed to the Final against Thornton.
On the first day Thornton compiled a formidable total of 8 for 281 off their 80 overs.
Northern made a positive start to the run chase with Mark Meskauskas (37) and Dominic Wilkinson (39) putting on 79 in quick time. Batting at No.3, Tony Fort played one of the best pressure innings seen in Maitland cricket for some time, scoring 94 not out to steer the team to victory with three overs to spare. He was given strong support in the closing stages by Brett Ward (37), Jamie Elphick (37) and Matthew Wilks (20 no).
Following on the preceding two losses in finals in 1988-89 and 1995-96 and the humiliation of the “win-less” 1993-94 season, the victory was particularly satisfying and long-awaited.