By Jamie Pandaram
November 2, 2005 - The Torch
A passionate young fan has embarked a lone crusade to return Bulldogs home games to the dilapidated Belmore Sportsground, even though the club has signed a long-term deal with Sydney Olympic Park.
Lifelong Doggies supporter Luke Brailey, 20, says the club will be ignoring its traditional heartland by relocating to the Olympic precinct in 2007. The Campsie resident has set up a website, backtobelmore.com.au, while he has also gathered the signatures of nearly 700 locals who feel the same, but Bulldogs chief executive Malcolm Noad reiterated a move back to the Sportsground was not possible.
Brailey labelled the Bulldogs' move as short sighted and criticised the club's handling of the issue earlier this year when they could not reach an agreement with the ground's landlord, Canterbury Council, over who would fund a potential upgrade. "People are not willing to take responsibilities for their actions or inaction," Brailey said. "They've turned their backs on the grass roots of the club. They seem to think revenue is more important than the fans.
They are disregarding their loyal fans that have supported the club through thick and thin. The 15-year deal with Olympic Park I think is extremely shortsighted. You don't need a ground the size of Telstra Stadium to seat 18,000 people."
Noad said the club had done everything in its power to remain at Belmore but the simple fact was that an upgrade could not be funded. "He sounds like we haven't tried to do anything to remain at Belmore, which is very naive, Noad said. We have spoken to all of the relevant people, and in the end it came down to money and nobody had the money.
Our entire board is made of people who played their entire careers at Belmore, does he think they didn't try everything possible to remain there?" Brailey wants a task force established to investigate the possible return of the Bulldogs to Belmore and is not willing to hear that it can't be done.
"It can be done," he said. "I think the council, the football club, the [Canterbury] Leagues Club and the NRL need to work together and establish a task force to investigate the redevelopment of Belmore Sportsground so it can once again be up to NRL standard.
I don't want to point the finger but in the fair dinkum department the football club should be making contributions, and the Leagues Club are not supporting the club." Noad said the move to Telstra was long-sighted as it secured the Bulldog's playing future at Australia's premier sporting venue.
"It is not possible [to return to Belmore], even if we wanted to - which we don't."