A crowd of 13,131 packed into Belmore Sports Ground on a sunny Sunday afternoon yesterday to witness the Melbourne Storm claim victory over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in the NRL. Now in its fifth consecutive year, the annual clash at the Bulldogs' spiritual home has become a staple of the local area's burgeoning events calendar.
There was a sense of familiarity about the game mixed with a sense of occasion, as befitting the fact a major sporting event was being staged in Belmore. The NRL fixtures at Belmore Sports Ground have been long recognised for their importance to the Canterbury-Bankstown district, not just in rugby league circles but because of the huge boost to so many local businesses. The autumn sunshine enticed thousands of visitors to Belmore who pounded the pavement on Burwood Road before and after the game for a meal or a quick bite, providing a huge boost for local cafes, eateries and restaurants.
Back to Belmore Patron Luke Brailey said the games at Belmore play a pivotal role in showcasing the history and capabilities of the iconic venue at hosting major events.
“Each year, the NRL matches at Belmore Sports Ground bring plenty of people to town and from a community organisation perspective we commend the Bulldogs for staging the game here yesterday and choosing to maintain that innate link with their traditional heartland. Bringing a premiership match to Belmore is not an easy exercise due to the logistical and operational niceties entailed with staging events at the venue in its current state and everyone involved in Sunday's clash should be duly congratulated.” Mr Brailey said.
“The NRL game at Belmore is now an established part of our calendar. To see thousands of fans packed into Belmore Sports Ground on Sunday to witness the Bulldogs return to their spiritual home was to be reminded of how far this annual event has come in the past few years.”
While the Bulldogs lost by 22 points, Back to Belmore Vice President Steven Cataldi said it was still an amazing day for Bulldogs fans, Belmore and the close relationship that the organisation shares with the Bulldogs.
“Contrary to popular belief, the relationship between the Bulldogs and Back to Belmore is not all about NRL premiership matches at Belmore. There is so much more to this important nexus that a lot of people have no idea about,” Mr Cataldi said.
“We find that Belmore Sports Ground shines when its stakeholders work together in a collaborative and cohesive manner. Since the election of Lynne Anderson as Chair, the dialogue between the Bulldogs and Back to Belmore has flourished to build greater mutual confidence to secure Belmore Sports Ground's future so that generations to come can enjoy this amazing sporting facility the way that we and previous generations have enjoyed it for almost a century.”
Although it wasn't on the cards this time, in the previous four years the Bulldogs have played two NRL games at the venue per season after a 17-year hiatus. The 2020 NRL draw has yet to be determined so there is no certainty when the Bulldogs will make their next return to Belmore.