AUSSIE RULES: An Old Boys reunion to honour the past and present players who pulled on the red, white and blue of the Gunnedah and District AFC Bulldogs will occur this weekend in conjunction with round six of the AFL North West competition.
Greg Piggott coached the Bulldogs of 2017 and it has already been five years since that drought-breaking premiership success of the club –
one of the many highlights to be rekindled in honouring the Bulldogs of the past.
The 26-year premiership drought was the longest in the league at the time and also became the sixth in the club’s 40-year existence – the Bulldogs previous premiership success occurred in 1991.
The 2017 year aligned with the club’s 40th year in AFL North West – including a 10-year hiatus from the competition until reforming in 2002 – and is credited for the success and player wealth the club has had in the former years following the landmark occasion.
Much like grand final day in 2017, the current crop of Bulldogs men and women Poochettes will line up against the New England Nomads at home in a bid to provide a win in front of former players and premiership stars of the club.
Fast forward to 2022 – twenty years since re-entering the AFL North West competition – and the club has added three more premierships to the cabinet – the Doug Meagher-coached men of 2019 – and a joint club premiership of Bulldogs men and Poochettes women in season 2020.
Meagher martialled the Bulldogs in back-to-back premierships in 2020 while Sam Proudfoot led the Poochettes women.
The Poochettes claimed their maiden premiership in their debut season of 2020, but the success in 2017 is partially credited for the procession of growth of AFL in the Gunnedah and district region.
An influx of players and interest in AFL generated as a result of the Bulldogs hosting the grand final in 2017 and club legend Brian Lenton – who formed the Gunnedah and District AFC AFL club in 1977 as captain-coach – still believes it was one of the most spectacular images to see a packed Wolseley Oval five years ago.
“It was an amazing day,” Lenton said of the 2017 flag.
“Armidale had won the previous five flags, so it was going to take something special to knock them off.
“I remember saying early in the season (2017) if anyone was going to do it, it was our boys.
“And in our 40th year of all circumstances, they did it.
“It was a great day in front of a huge crowd,” Lenton added.
Lenton himself was part of five premierships – two as captain-coach in 1978 and 1979, and three solely as coach in 1985, 1986 and 1991 respectively.
He is thrilled the club still has the history of the Bulldogs at heart by inviting past players to catch up and reminisce about their playing days while enjoying a day at the footy.
A large number of visitors from Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and Queensland is expected to make the trip back to relive and reminisce not only the 2017
premiership, but all of those that proceeded.