By Christian Nicolussi
30 June 2015 - The Daily Telegraph
THIS was something special.
This was history. This was rugby league. And everything our great game stands for.
A thunderous crowd of 16,764 crammed into Belmore Sports Ground last night to watch their beloved Bulldogs whack Melbourne Storm.
With some spit and polish, grand old Belmore looked a treat last night. This is no ordinary footy ground. This is Canterbury's field of dreams. This was where the club's legends played. The Mortimer brothers, Hughes brothers, Les Johns, Kevin Ryan and Terry Lamb.
Lamb was there last night, as were Mortimer, Chris Anderson, Andrew Farrar, Mick Potter, Daryl Halligan and Paul Langmack.
It doesn't get much better when it comes to suburban rugby league. This was the first premiership game at Belmore since 1998, when Canterbury, ironically, beat the Storm.
"It was absolutely unbelievable -- the noise, the atmosphere, you can't beat it," Dogs centre Josh Morris said.
The Bulldogs performed their team song at fulltime in front of the Terry Lamb Family Hill. The whole crowd sang along. It was unbelievable stuff.
Canterbury entered the field to rapturous applause. The hill was a sea of blue and white. There were people everywhere. Fans were even perched on walls and trucks outside the ground to get a glimpse -- glad to be back at their spiritual home.
"Seventeen years since we last played here and I have to give a huge wrap to the fans," Bulldogs coach Des Hasler said.
The crowd was large, vocal and ready for a big Doggies win. It was intimidating and hostile -- and Melbourne looked stage-struck early.
This ground should host a game every year. No doubt.
The old Canterbury theme song boomed out at fulltime. It was like being in a time warp.
Belmore has seen some remarkable wins down through the decades. Last night wasn't exactly a famous win but everyone there will long remember what was a wonderful occasion.
Every time Canterbury excelled -- and even when they didn't -- the crowd started the familiar chant of "Bulldogs, Bulldogs, Bulldogs".
"There aren't too many games where you get to run out in front of 16,000 people and it sounds like 40,000," Canterbury skipper Aiden Tolman said. "This is our spiritual home, this is where we belong. Tonight was something really special." It was the biggest Monday night crowd of the season. The match was actually sold out four hours before kick-off.
Canterbury started in stunning style last night. Fullback Brett Morris sizzled over after just four minutes to give the Bulldogs a 6-0 lead.
And with their adrenaline pumping, the home side roared over again in the seventh minute through youngster Shaun Lane. Two Trent Hodkinson conversions gave Canterbury a 12-0 lead. In the 14th minute, winger Sam Perrett scored for a 16-0 lead.
Canterbury's defence late in the first half was stirring. They repelled raid after raid, their muscle reminiscent of some of the great Canterbury sides of the 1980s.