The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs are a Belmore based professional National Rugby League (NRL) football club. Belmore is a suburb of the Canterbury-Bankstown region of Sydney, NSW. They take part in both the National Rugby League and the New South Wales Rugby league junior league games. The team has a long history in the game and a solid base of avid supporters. The team has gone through a number of evolutions over the course of their history and has had some impressive wins. The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs are an iconic Rugby League team, and one of the first teams that most layman will recognise due to their high profile.
They are a highly desirable team for top tier players and have been host to some notable rugby players over the decades. The current day Bulldogs team have experienced some big team change ups and have suffered as a result of the upheaval, with some less than stellar finishes but that looks set to change in future years.
The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs were originally founded all the way back in 1934, on the 24th of September. The club was first admitted to play in the New South Rugby League Premiership for the 1935 season.
Their first premiership was won in 1939, four years into their participation in the league. They followed suit with a second win not long after but then spent a significant portion of the 1950s and 60s on the lower rungs of the ladder. They recovered in the 1980s, impressively competing at the top of the ladder and taking home four wins in that decade.
The team were briefly known as the Sydney Bulldogs in the 90s during the Super League War. Their name was later changed to the Bulldogs upon joining the re-unified NRL.
The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have won a number of premierships since their inception. Their first win came only a few years after their founding, in 1939. Their second win came in the 1940’s before they experienced a dry spell for the next two decades. Their most recent premiership win was in 2004. The Bulldogs won the minor premiership in 2012, but subsequently lost to Melbourne Storm in the Grand final game. They got close again in 2014, making it to the Grand Final but losing to South Sydney.
The Canterbury-Bankstwon Bulldogs largest win was in 1995 in a game against the North Queensland Cowboys. They team, which at the time was known as ‘The Sydney Bulldogs’ won 66-4.
The clubs biggest defeat was experienced in their first season, when they lost 91-6 and then 87-6. These were the two biggest defeats in competition history, two weeks in succession. It’s even more impressive that they were able to win their first premiership only three years later after such massive defeats. Their first win earned them the record as the quickest non-foundation to win a premiership, this record was not broken until 1999.
The clubs player Hazem El Masri is the record holder for the most games played for the Caterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, having played 317 in total. He also holds the record for the most points, tries scored, and points scored for the Bulldogs club. He has scored more than 2418 points since 1996 – this is the competiton record for the entire Rugby League in Australia.
The Bulldogs former player Daryl Halligan has also previously held the record for most points scored for the competition, this record includes points that he scored during his participation in previous club the North Sydney Bears.
The team fell only two short of the record for most matches run in a row in 2002, when they won 17 matches in a row.
The clubs is also the first NRL club to win three consecutive games by only 1 point, they set this record in 2014, the year they came second to the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the grand final.
Like most National Rugby League teams, the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs rely on cash injections from Leagues clubs and broadcasting deals. They also make revenue from their merchandise, sponsorship deals, corporate suites and game day tickets. The Canterbury leagues club is the clubs biggest earner, with the pokies returning $74.9 million in 2015. Despite this, the team lost $5.4 million in 2016. The Canterbury-Bankstown bulldogs have announced plans and a number of strategic goals recently that aim to have the club achieve $30 million profit in 2020. These goals include a number of goals, including placing in the top four of the NRL each year and will see the club become heavy hitters in the NRL. In 2014 the club received a $100 million grant from the government to help them transform their Belmore premises into a hotel, with the aim of creating more revenue streams.
The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs’ current home ground is ANZ stadium and the Belmore Sports Ground.
In their first season the Bulldogs did not play many matches on their home turf. At the time, home games were either allocated to Marrickville or Pratten Park. In the following 1936 season the club began to use the Belmore Sports Ground as their home base. The club have used the Belmore Sports Ground on and off ever since. It was there home continuously until 1994.
During the Super League War in 1995 the club changed their name temporarily to the Sydney Bulldogs. The name change was an attempt to widen the clubs support base, during this time they played matches at Parramatta stadium. The spectator facilities at this stadium were of a higher quality and class. Shaking things up a bit paid off in that year, with the club becoming premiers of that season. The club returned to their previous name in 1996 and returned to the Belmore Sports ground, this lasted until the season of 1998.
The ANZ stadium was being built and prepared for the 2000 Sydney Olympic games and was opened up to become the clubs home base for matches in 1999 and 2000.
Between the years of 2001 to 2005 the Bulldogs played their home matches at the then new Sydney Showground, and played larger matches at the Telstra Stadium. Fans however were not happy about the quality of the Sydney Showground for rugby games and so the club chose to move future games to the stadium, were they remain today. In 2015 the club played a couple of home games at their old home base, Belmore Sports Ground in celebration of their 80th anniversary and they have returned on occasion to play additional games since then.
Currently the clubs training and administration offices are located at the Sydney Olympic Park, although the NSW government has recently committed $9 million worth of funds to upgrade the Belmore Sports grounds facilities and the clubs administration and training have recently returned to the grounds.
The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs current coach is Dean Pay, a former professional player who was active in the 1980s and 90s. He has played for both the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and the Parramatta Eels. Den Pay is renowned for being ‘one of the greats’ in rugby league and much of the Bulldog’s success in the 90s is attributed to his skill in the game. He is well known for his skill as a forward and strong defense abilities.
Emblem and Colours
The emblem and colours of the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs has undergone a number of changes of the course of the clubs history. At the clubs inception in 1935, it was only called ‘Canterbury-Bankstown’ – the animal mascot was a later addition. At the time they were given the derisive nicknames of ‘Berries’ and ‘Country Bumpkins’ – sometimes shortened to ‘C-Bs’. The nickname the Bulldogs was popularised as early as the 70’s.
It was the year 1978 that saw the club adopting their iconic Bulldog mascot and adopting it into their name – becoming known as the ‘Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs’. They used this name throughout their glory era during the 80s.
Their emblem was originally the initials ‘C-B’ in a shield but this changed when they added the Bulldogs to their name. There have been three main iterations of the Bulldog mascot logo. The first iteration of the logo included a snarling bulldog. This was later replaced I the 90s by a more cartoonish logo, which was appropriate for the era. Just over a decade later, in 1998, the logo underwent another change. The logo was picked via a vote put to club members iin order to celebrate the clubs 75th anniversary. The new logo is similar to the 1978-1997 logo, but the bulldog is not snarling and it also include the ‘C-B’ initials from the clubs earliest emblem. The logo also includes the blue and white ‘V’ that has appeared on many of the clubs jerseys over the years.
The clubs colours have been predominantly blue and white since their inception. The only time this has not been true was during the War went they briefly donned moroon jerseys with a blue ‘V’ due to rationing. The club jersey has undergone a few changes over the decades, but there are three main designs that have been used by the club. The first is a design that utilised ‘butcher stripes’ – this was used by the club between 1935-1962. The second is the popular ‘V’ strip jersey, used between 1966 and 1968 before being reintroduced in 1974. The last is a white shirt with blue V and shorts.
The clubs mascot is its namesake, the Bulldog.
The clubs core fan base is known as the Bulldogs Army. The area they sit in during home games is known as ‘The Kennel’. To sit in The Kennel, supporters must have a Bulldogs membership. During away games, Bulldogs supporters seat themselves in the general admissions area. They are a highly active fan base who regularly show up in force to passionately support the club during matches. The clubs geographic location mean that they have a diverse and multi-cultural fan base, this is also reflected in their players. Many of their supporters are of non-Anglo ethnicities and the club has strong ties to the Greek and Lebanese communities. The clubs previous star player, Hazem El Mazir migrated from Lebanon. There have also been many Greeks involved in the club since the 1970s. One of the clubs legendary players and previous team captain, George Peponis migrated from Greece as a young child.
The clubs main support base is located around the Canterbury and Bankstown areas. The Bulldogs have the most support of any NRL club in regional NSW. The club also has one of the highest average attendance rates in the NRL. In 2015 the club played in front of 40,523 spectators.
The club has many notable fans including Tahir Bilgic, an actor, comedian and creator, Don Burke, television personality, sports stars such as Ian Thorpe and Doug Walter, politicians such as Paul Keatin and joe Hansen, the guitarist for Grinspoon.
The club is supported by the Canterbury League club, which opened in 1956. The club has grown from small beginnings to become one of Sydney best hospitality destinations, with 5-star amenities on offer to patrons.