End of an era: ‘Dogs decide to farewell home
By Jamie Pandaram
May 26, 2005 – The Torch
The Bulldogs will leave their traditional Canterbury-Bankstown heartland and move to Sydney Olympic Park. While the expected move from Belmore Sports Ground has not been formally finalised, the Torch understands it is simply a matter of negotiating minor details before the deal is settled.
The Bulldogs last week rejected a proposal to move to The Crest in Georges Hall. They are likely to remain at Belmore until the end of next year, and then relocate to SOP by the start of the 2007 season. The move would signal the end of a 71-year association between the club and this area, but chief executive Malcolm Noad insisted the Bulldogs would maintain strong ties to Canterbury and Bankstown .
“In an ideal world we would be staying at Belmore, but we don't live in an ideal world,” Mr. Noad said. “We are not moving to The Crest, we are still in negotiations with Sydney Olympic Park (Authority).
“It certainly has not been finalised, hopefully in the not too distant future" (it will be). “Our heart and soul remains in the Canterbury Bankstown district. We would still be supporting schools, hospitals and charities in the Canterbury Bankstown area.”
Mr. Noad also revealed the Bulldogs had forwarded an application to the NSW Rugby League to include SOP in their junior district boundaries. “Our juniors will remain in the Canterbury Bankstown district, we will still take juniors from the area – that is forever.”
The club's decision to reject The Crest has left a bitter taste in the mouths of officials at Bankstown Sports Club, who had worked hard for the last seven months to relocate the Bulldogs to the site in Georges Hall. There is a growing belief among officials that the Sports Club was used as a bargaining pawn by the Bulldogs to get a better deal from the Sydney Olympic Park Authority – and that the club never had intentions of remaining in the Canterbury-Bankstown community.
Sports Club president John McKay remained tightlipped about his feelings towards the Bulldogs but did say: “We are in a state of disappointment. I would say they had a disappointing conclusion – we had a development application approved by Bankstown council which was drawn up to the plans of the coach (Steve Folkes) and football club staff.”
Mr. Noad said The Crest had always been a genuine option but the club is getting a financially better deal from SOPA.