Dymock can't wait for the roar as Belmore gets its bark back
By Michael Chammas
18 October 2011 - Sydney Morning Herald
ON THE same day Canterbury-Bankstown returned to their spiritual home, coach Jim Dymock pledged to lead the push to bring NRL football back to Belmore Sports Ground.
A planned pre-season trial against the Roosters at Belmore, which Dymock believes will attract 15,000 fans, has now been earmarked for Sunday, February 12 - the first match at the ground since the Bulldogs vacated the venue in 1998.
While contractual commitments restrict Canterbury from playing outside ANZ Stadium until 2016, Dymock, who played at the ground for the Bulldogs in the mid 1990s, has revealed his desire not only to play one NRL match at the ground but also return to Belmore full-time.
''Getting back to Belmore … it's like the mecca for us,'' Dymock said. ''It's an unbelievable place - the local ground with the crowd right on top of you buzzing all the time, the train coming through at the back there … It's pretty unique. I'll definitely be trying to get more than one or two games. Hopefully we can get back there and make it a fortress like it once was.''
The once dilapidated suburban ground has been transformed into a state-of-the-art training facility and administration hub, which includes a brand new gym, ice baths and a 40 metre running track, thanks to an $8 million grant from the federal and state governments.
The grandstand seats have all been replaced but the ground would require further funding, similar to the $37 million overhaul of Kogarah's WIN Jubilee Oval, before talks of moving home games to Belmore began to gather momentum.
Despite only holding a one-year mortgage on the Bulldogs' top job, Dymock doesn't expect much interference from incoming Manly coach Des Hasler.
Dymock has every intention of taking the advice of outgoing Newcastle coach Rick Stone, who was in a similar position this year waiting for the arrival of Wayne Bennett.
Stone sent a text message to Dymock, who was in the lower grades at South Sydney when Stone was playing first grade at the club, wishing him all the best and told him to ''make sure that it's your side''.
Dymock hasn't spoken to Hasler during the Bulldogs' pursuit of the premiership-winning coach, and won't be calling his future boss when he appoints the club's new captain before the start of next season.
English import James Graham, who captained England in last year's Four Nations, is a genuine contender to take over from Andrew Ryan, while Michael Ennis, Aiden Tolman, Steve Turner and Josh Morris are also in the running.
''I don't think I'll be consulting Des too much about next year - 2012 is my year and whatever I do will be under my watch,'' Dymock said. ''I will go with my gut feeling and consult more with my coaching staff.''
The Bulldogs moved equipment out of their Sydney Olympic Park headquarters yesterday and into Belmore, with players set to arrive on October 31 for the start of pre-season.
The facility is the result of two-years of research, which included visits to several AFL clubs, including Collingwood's Westpac Centre, as well as AAMI Park, the Gold Coast Titans' training base and NSW Waratahs headquarters.
While no NRL matches will be played at the ground next year, the club's Harold Matthews, SG Ball and NSW Cup teams will all call Belmore home.
''There's a long-term commitment to play NRL games there but that will come with additional funding in coming years to improve Belmore,'' Bulldogs chief executive Todd Greenberg said.
''Belmore has always been the Bulldogs' home, and we're glad to be coming home.''