In 1935 – thirteen years after a meeting above "The Ideal Milk Bar" in Campsie led to the creation of the Canterbury-Bankstown Junior Rugby League – the Canterbury club was admitted into the elite New South Wales Rugby Football League premiership. It took the new club, nicknamed "Country Bumpkins" because of their rural recruiting and CB emblem, four years to win their first premiership in 1938. The grand final-winning effort was repeated in 1942 before a 38-year premiership drought.
In 1967, having ended the 11-year premiership reign of St. George by defeating them in the final, "The Berries" (as they were known at the time) lost to the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the Grand Final. But the return to the top end of the table set the scene for off-field restructuring that laid the foundations for the club to become one of the most consistent achievers in the remaining decades of the 20th century.
In 1978 Canterbury became known as "The Bulldogs". Nicknames such as "Cantabs" "CBs" and "Berries" were seen to be "soft" and the club wanted something to signify determination and grit. A grand final appearance in 1979, followed by a grand final win in 1980 with a young, enthusiastic and free-running side dubbed "The Entertainers", was the beginning of a golden era that was to produce three more grand final wins in the 1980s: 1984, 1985 and 1988.
In the mid-1990s’ Super League war, the Bulldogs aligned themselves with the Super League competition, playing in the 1997 premiership season. In 1998 the Bulldogs came close to adding another premiership trophy after qualifying for the Grand Final where they met the Brisbane Broncos and lost 38–12. On the way to the 1998 Grand Final, the Bulldogs had two come-from-behind wins. The first was against the Newcastle Knights in the third week of the finals – behind 16–0 in the second half, they fought back to 16-all at full-time and went on to win in extra time. A week later they trailed Parramatta in the preliminary final by 16 points with 9 minutes remaining. Three tries and a conversion in the final minutes got them back level at 18-all, and the Bulldogs eventually went on to win.
Following indifferent form in 1999, 2000 and 2001 where they had varying levels of success, the club was found to have systematically and deliberately breached the NRL salary cap in 2002 (for the 2001–02 seasons), and was penalized all 37 competition points which it had amassed up to that point for 2002. This resulted in the club falling from first to last place on the ladder, and at the end of the season the Bulldogs received their first "wooden spoon" (a reference to the club which finishes last in the competition) since 1964.
The Bulldogs returned to finals contention in 2003, however they fell one step short of yet another Grand Final after losing to the Roosters 28–18 in the Preliminary Final.
The club went through some off-field dramas in 2004, the most serious of which included rape allegations during a pre-season match in Coffs Harbour. The team managed to focus on football and triumphed when they held out the Sydney Roosters 16–13 with a try-saving tackle by Andrew Ryan in the dying seconds of the 2004 Grand Final. The game was to be the last for departing captain Steve Price, but he missed the match due to a leg injury.
2005 saw the Bulldogs unable to mount a serious defence of their premiership title as injuries and contract negotiations saw the year start and finish on a sour note for the club. Due to the extent of injuries suffered, the team was under-strength for most of the year. This took its toll in the final six weeks of the season, with the club suffering successive heavy losses and missing the finals series. In 2006, little was expected from the club after a poor 2005 season, but despite some doubt over the strength of their side, the Bulldogs' forward pack helped them to a better than expected result for the year, finishing a game short of the Grand Final, losing to eventual premiers the Brisbane Broncos. Inconsistency and a poor finish to the 2007 season meant the Bulldogs were knocked out of the finals in week two.
In 2008, having already lost Mark O'Meley to the Sydney Roosters, Willie Mason left the club. Further into the off-season the Bulldogs also lost halfback Brent Sherwin, and prospects for the 2008 season began to look dim. Although they recorded at the start of the season a couple of victories, the injury toll and the departure Sonny Bill Williams mid-season demoralised the club and players, and the Bulldogs' earned their second wooden spoon of the decade.
Another source of discontent in 2008 was the battle for election to the football club board. Many contenders believed that the board of the time was steering the club in the wrong direction, particularly then-CEO Malcolm Noad. New members were elected to the board early in 2008, and later in the season Noad resigned as CEO. His replacement as head of the football club was Todd Greenberg.
Greenberg's influence became apparent during the 2009. Premiership-winning coach Steve Folkes was replaced with his assistant Kevin Moore. The purchases of several key players, including former Melbourne and Cronulla playmaker Brett Kimmorley changed the Bulldogs from a poorly run and poorly performing club to one of the best clubs both on and off the field in 2009. The Bulldogs finished second in the regular season (losing the minor premiership to the St George Illawarra Dragons due to a loss of two competition points for an interchange breach against Penrith in Round 2), and players and officials took out a number of Dally M awards. 2009 was also the final season for Hazem El Masri, who became the highest all-time pointscorer in Australian rugby league history with a penalty goal in the Bulldogs' Round 1 match against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles.
From 2010, the Bulldogs returned to the name Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. The Canterbury-Bankstown club celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2010.
In 2012 the Bulldogs finished first on the competition ladder to take out their first minor premiership since 1994. They made the grand final but finished runners up to the Melbourne Storm losing, 14–4.
In May 2013 former Netball New Zealand chief executive Raelene Castle was appointed CEO, the first female in the NRL's history. They finished the regular season sixth on the ladder and bowed out in the semi final.
In 2014, the Bulldogs made history by winning three consecutive games by one point, from Round 5 to Round 7. They finished runners up to the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the grand final.
There has been widespread speculation within the NRL that the club will soon be taken over by investor, business magnate, and former Wall Street broker Leon Liu. If the two parties finalise a deal, the club will be under the management of Australian conglomerate Leon&Brothers Limited in 2018.
The name and emblem of the club has changed several times over its history. At the club's foundation in 1935, it was known only as 'Canterbury-Bankstown', without an animal mascot. The nicknames 'Berries' and 'C-Bs' (or, derisively, 'Country Bumpkins') were often used informally, 'C-Bs' being used from the outset and 'Berries' coming into use by the mid-1940s. The club had been referred to as the 'Bulldogs' as early as 1977. In 1978, the Bulldog mascot and name was adopted, with the club becoming known as the 'Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs'. This was the name used throughout the team's 1980s glory era. In 1995 the club name was changed to 'Sydney Bulldogs', reflecting a similar change by Eastern Suburbs (to 'Sydney City Roosters'). The name changed again in 1996, returning to 'Canterbury Bulldogs' with 'Bankstown' omitted, and yet again in 2000, to the geographically indistinct 'Bulldogs'. Bob Hagan, the club boss at the time of the 2000 change, explained that the dropping of the name 'Canterbury' was intended to broaden the appeal of the club outside of its traditional supporter base, so that the club could attract a geographically diverse following like Manchester United or the Chicago Bulls. Despite the name change, some supporters, as well as many television and radio commentators, continued to refer to the club as 'Canterbury'. In the most recent change, board officials voted in late 2009 for the club to return to 'Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs' from the 2010 season onwards.
The initial crest was a 'C-B' in a shield. The adoption of the 'Bulldogs' name and mascot took place in 1978. There have been three main versions of the mascot logo. The first, which featured a snarling bulldog inside a circle, was replaced in 1998 by a more 'cartoonish' logo of a bulldog's head. In 2009, the club announced that the logo would be changing again, and asked members to vote on which of two similar proposed logos would be used from 2010. The rationale for the logo change was to celebrate the club's 75th anniversary in 2010 and to better reflect the club's "true essence and history". Two months later, the new design was unveiled, with the official change of logo taking place in November 2009. The current logo returns to the standing bulldog of the 1978–1997 logo, although it is no longer snarling. It also references elements of the club's history by incorporating the 'C-B' emblem, the club's year of foundation (1935), and the blue and white 'V' design which has featured on many of the club's jerseys over the years. The change of name from 'Bulldogs' to 'Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs' took place after the new logo was unveiled.
Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs - Logos
The Bulldogs have played in predominantly blue and white strip since the club entered the league in 1935. The only exception to this was during the Second World War, when rationing meant they had to wear a maroon jersey with a blue 'V'.
There have been three basic strip designs since the club's inception in the top flight league competition:The irregular ("butcher stripes") stripes design which was used from 1935 until at least 1962.
This design had blue and white irregular stripes worn with black shorts. The irregular strip has been used recently in occasional 'heritage' matches (e.g. Heritage round in 2008 vs St George-Illawarra)The 'V Strip' – used between 1966 and 1968, and revived in 1974.
White shirt with blue V, blue shorts. The current "away" strip has blue shorts, but features a blue shirt with white V.From 1969 to 1973, the club adopted a jersey featuring blue and white hoops.
This reverted to the 'V Strip' from 1974 onwards.
Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs - home jerseys
In their inaugural season, very few home matches were allocated to the Canterbury-Bankstown club. However, when the opportunity arose the club took their matches to either Marrickville or Pratten Park. From the following season, the club began to base itself at Belmore Sports Ground. The club had a long-time affinity with the ground and stayed there continuously until 1994.
In 1995 when the Super League War began to come about, the club changed its playing name to the "Sydney Bulldogs" in an attempt to broaden its fan base and played matches at Parramatta Stadium where spectator facilities were of a higher class. This move paid off with the club going on to become premiers that season. However, the club reverted its name to Canterbury for the 1996 season and once again played matches out of Belmore Sports Ground; something that lasted up until the inaugural National Rugby League season of 1998.
Once the new Stadium Australia had been finished and opened in preparation for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, the club began to play matches there between 1999 and 2000. From 2001 to 2005, the club then began to play matches out of the new Sydney Showground at Homebush Bay, with bigger matches played out of the then-Telstra Stadium from 2003. When fans began to complain about the poor quality of the Showground venue as a rugby league ground, the club eventually decided to move all future home matches to the Stadium, where the club remains. In 2008, Telstra Stadium became known as ANZ Stadium due to a naming rights change.
The club's training and administration offices remained at Belmore Sports Ground until the beginning of 2008, but were relocated to Sydney Olympic Park during the 2008 season. With the NSW Government committing to upgrading Belmore Sports Ground, the club administration and training has now been returned to the historical ground after a $9 million upgrade.
In 2015, the club played 2 home games at their traditional home ground Belmore Sports Ground as part of the club's 80th anniversary celebrations and continue to play some games at Belmore ever since.
The Bulldogs Army is the core supporter group for the Bulldogs, with the section they sit within known as 'The Kennel'. To be sitting in this section, supporters must become a member of the club itself and register any large flags and/or banners which are brought to the game. At all away games the Bulldogs Army locates themselves in the general admission section. The main aim of the Bulldogs Army is to show support and passion for the Bulldogs.
As the region's traditional local representatives, the Bulldogs predominantly draw on a support base in and around the districts of Canterbury and Bankstown in south-western Sydney, although in recent years club administration and home matches have relocated to Sydney Olympic Park. The Bulldogs are the most supported NRL club in regional NSW – over 25% of Bulldog fans are located in regional NSW, over 25% are located outside of NSW and over 10% are located in QLD The club has one of the highest average attendances in the league: over the 2010 season, it was one of only two clubs to record an average home crowd of more than 20,000.
The multicultural demographics of the suburbs in the club's support base, such as Lakemba, means the club has a large number of supporters from a range of non-Anglo ethnicities. In recent years the club has become particularly identified in the media with the Lebanese and the Greek community, particularly with the club's former star goalkicker Hazem El Masri, being a Lebanese immigrant who migrated from Lebanon as a young child. The Greek community has a huge history of Greeks playing for the club dating back to the 1970s with club legend George Peponis, being a Greek immigrant who migrated from Greece as a very young child who captained the Bulldogs and Australia. El Masri retired at the end of the 2009 season.
The Canterbury Leagues Club is the official Leagues Club of the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. Canterbury League Club first opened its doors for trade in September 1956 to service the needs of the football club and local community. The Salvation Army Hall became the first venue of the Canterbury League Club. Sixty people would fill the venue on a busy night.
In the first two years of trade the Club was outgrowing itself and in 1960 the Club moved its premises to Bridge St which allowed the League Club to grow as well as cater for patron parking.
During the 90s Canterbury managed one of the most successful League Clubs in NSW and was quickly becoming known as one of the most progressive leisure facilities in Australia. With trade booming and patronage at an all-time high, the Club extended its trading to 24-hour trading.
In 2000, the Board had approved major renovations. The renovations started in 2000 and in 2002 the Banyan Brasserie, Dynasty Restaurant, new foyer, level 1 and Health Club were opened to the public.
The Club also amalgamated with Lakemba Services Memorial Club (2008) & Belfield RSL (2013).
Canterbury League Club has since become one of Sydney's premier hospitality destinations with 5 star amenities including 3 Restaurants, 2 coffee shops, multiple bars and entertainment lounges and a 24-hour health club.
Hazem El Masri holds the NRL record for the most games played for the club, having made 317 appearances in total.
Hazem El Masri also holds records for the most points scored, the most tries scored and the most points scored for the Bulldogs. Since his debut in 1996, he has scored a total of 2,418 points – which is also a competition record for Rugby League in Australia. Former player Daryl Halligan, who retired with the club in 2000, had previously held the competition record for most points scored with 2,034, which included points scored whilst at his former club the North Sydney Bears.
The club's largest win occurred in 1995 when they played as the "Sydney Bulldogs." In a match against the newly formed North Queensland Cowboys, the Bulldogs won 66–4. In the club's first season in 1935 they were subject to the two heaviest defeats in competition history two weeks in succession. Firstly, they lost to St. George 91–6 and the following week to Eastern Suburbs 87–7. However, despite these big losses, the club was able to secure their first premiership 3 years later in 1938 in the Grand Final against Eastern Suburbs; at the same time setting the record for becoming the quickest non-foundation club to win a title. This record was not broken until 1999.
In 2002, the club won 17 matches in a row after getting beaten by New Zealand Warriors; falling just two short of the record set by the Eastern Suburbs team of 1975.
In Round 7 of the 2014 season, after beating the South Sydney Rabbitohs 15–14, the Bulldogs became the first club to win three consecutive matches by 1 point. They went on to be runners up to South Sydney Rabbitohs in the grandfinal.
In April 2015, the Bulldogs played the Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium in front of 40,523 spectators.
On 1 August 2015, the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs announced a "Team of the Decade" to celebrate their 80th anniversary.
GainsBrenko Lee from Canberra Raiders
Richard Kennar from Melbourne Storm
Zac Woolford from Canberra Raiders
Josh Cleeland from Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
OutTim Browne to Penrith Panthers
Tony Williams to Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
Shaun Lane to Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Curtis Rona to Western Force
Dane Chisholm to Bradford Bulls
New South Wales Rugby League, Australian Rugby League and National Rugby League premiers: 8
New South Wales Rugby League, Australian Rugby League and National Rugby League runners-up: 10
New South Wales Rugby League, Australian Rugby League and National Rugby League minor premierships: 7
New South Wales Rugby League Club Championships: 7
Pre-Season Cup titles: 2
Inter-City titles: 1
Junior Representative Honours:
Jersey Flegg Premiers : 1963, 1971, 1976, 1979, 1983, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003.
SG Ball Premiers : 1972, 1978, 2009.
Harold Matthews Premiers : 2007, 2009, 2011
Current Canterbury-Bankstown junior clubs are: