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Doghouse is now the penthouse

By Dean Ritchie

October 28, 2011 - Daily Telegraph

IS it any wonder Dessie Hasler is leaving dilapidated Brookvale Oval for the Bulldogs.

Take a look at Belmore's grand old lady now.

After years of neglect, decay and being showered with pigeon droppings, Belmore Sports Ground has been spectacularly transformed.

Bulldogs chief executive Todd Greenberg yesterday gave The Daily Telegraph an extensive tour of the revamped facilities, which now house the club's administration offices, state-of-the-art gymnasium, rehab baths and spas, theatrette, lecture rooms, fully equipped kitchen, physio room, dressing room for players and an indoor running track which extends directly out of glass doors on to the playing field.The coaching offices and football operations sit on the ground floor, administration on the second floor.

Named the Bulldogs Centre of Excellence, the impressive set-up has been built inside the Stewart Stand, the renowned train line just metres away.

The centre took one year to complete at a cost of $9 million - $5 million of which came from the Rudd Government, $3 million from the ex-Keneally Government and $500,000 each from Canterbury Leagues Club and Canterbury Council.

After a decade based at Homebush, the Bulldogs officially moved back to Belmore a few days ago, although the club will continue to play NRL games at ANZ Stadium.

"Plenty of people never thought this would happen," Greenberg said. "But our board had a vision and this is the culmination of their hard work."All the facilities are under the one roof, which is important. This isn't just about the team - it's about the club.

"We have gone back to our grass roots but also have a strong eye on the future. It is a nice blend."

The roof incorporates the existing grandstand, with the Stewart Stand's concrete beams there for all to see. It is a gentle reminder to players that they are still in working-class Belmore.

The theatrette will be used for video sessions and media commitments, as well as staff and sponsorship meetings.

Players will relax in a large recreational room which has a fully equipped kitchen, large sofas and stools. A nutritionist will cook meals for the players during training days.

There is even a room for indoor barbecues, and blinds have been placed in between two panes of glass to prevent them being damaged.

The indoor pool and bath are temperature controlled.

All up the room cost about $1 million.

"These are world-class facilities - everything is first class. We have no excuses," Canterbury coach Jim Dymock said.

"It's like coming home. I used to love playing at Belmore. It is a unique ground."

Belmore Sports Ground holds a special place in the hearts of all Canterbury fans. It has a rich history, from when Canterbury were the Berries to the mighty Bulldogs they are now.

It was home to the Mortimer and Hughes brothers when they took Canterbury to the 1980 premiership under Ted Glossop, and when Terry Lamb inspired Warren Ryan's "Dogs of War" to back-to-back titles in 1984 and 1985.

Canterbury played home matches at Belmore Oval between 1936 and 1967. In 1968, the ground was reconfigured and named Belmore Sports Ground, the first modern rectangular ground in rugby league. From 1968 to 1998, Canterbury played 327 matches there for 216 wins.

The Bulldogs will play a trial against the Sydney Roosters at Belmore on February 12.




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