An Old Boys day will be held this weekend, to honour past and present players to have pulled on the red, white and blue for the Gunnedah and District AFC Bulldogs men and women.

The matches will be held in conjunction with round seven action in the 2024 AFL North West competition.

The current Bulldogs and Poochettes will take on the Tamworth Kangaroos at Wolseley Oval in front of what is anticipated to be a conglomeration exceeding 50 former players, coaches and administrators of the club throughout its 47-year existence.

In those 47 years, the Bulldogs were crowned premiers of the North West AFL men’s competition on eight occasions – 1978, 1979, 1986, 1987, 1991, 2017, 2019 and 2020.

Since the inception of the women’s teams into the competition, the Poochettes have achieved the ultimate success twice in seasons 2020 and 2023, catapulting the premiership trophy cabinet for the Bulldogs club into double figures into a combined 10 flags.

Bulldogs and AFL North West legend Brian Lenton, in consultation with Bill and Gary Jones and Tom Lyle, founded the club back in 1977. In just their second season under the guidance of Lenton as captain-coach, the Bulldogs registered their first flag, with Lenton the catalyst as he led the club to back-to-back premiership glory in 1979.

Recognised as the Bulldogs premier alumni and recently inducted into the NSW AFL Hall Of Fame, Lenton on multiple occasions kicked 100 goals in a season and in the 1979 premiership season, registered a staggering club and league record of 21 goals during a match.

That season ended in premiership glory with Lenton at the forefront and in his prime, guiding the Bulldogs as captain-coach.

Despite lean years of success early in the 1980s, the club regenerated in the latter part of the decade, repeating its 1978 and 1979 premiership triumphs to achieve back to back premierships for the second time in seasons 1986 and 1987.

Whilst retired from playing, Lenton was the common denominator of any success the Bulldogs had, this time solely as coach in 1986 and 1987 as well as the 1991 premiership side – but that 1991 premiership season was the last the Bulldogs would celebrate or participate in as the club went into an unfortunate 11-year hiatus.

After reforming in 2002, the Bulldogs suffered many lean years in the early stages of the new millennium, as player numbers were constrictive in comparison to the premiership years of the past.

With contemporaries such as Lenton in an administration capacity, Dave Chapman as coach and through the likes of players and the new talent of future life members Scott Hardy and John Woolaston, however, the building blocks were formed as the backbone of the Bulldogs side as it was introduced into what was then known as the Tamworth AFL (TAFL).

The Bulldogs added other future life members such as Mark Ewington – who is still playing – and Andrew George, continuing to build momentum but while a competitive outfit, the club couldn’t quite achieve the ultimate premiership success.

It would take until the club’s 40th year anniversary in 2017, when South Australian, Greg Piggott, took on the coaching reins, that the club would break the 26-year premiership drought, with a formidable side through the cornerstone of Ewington, George, Hardy and Woolaston.

Although Piggot’s tenure was short and sweet, he was followed by the well credentialled Victorian and Horsham native, Doug Meagher, a former NEAFL league AFL footballer with coaching prowess.

As Meagher took over from Piggot as coach, he continued the domination of the Bulldogs within the North west AFL men’s competition and the turn of the decade culminated in the club’s third back-to-back premierships in the 2019 and 2020 seasons – the 2020 premiership being the most successful season in the club’s history.

Upon introduction into the AFL North West women’s competition in 2020, the Poochettes, as they’re now well-known, achieved the ultimate success in their first season under the guidance of former men’s player and coach Sam Proudfoot.

Simultaneously, with Meagher marshalling the Bulldogs men and Proudfoot in command of the women’s side, it produced the most successful season in Bulldogs history with dual club premierships.

The 1986 undefeated premiership side.

At the end of his tenure, Proudfoot passed the Poochettes coaching baton onto Jakob Vearing, who mirrored Proudfoot’s initial success of the Poochettes in guiding the 2023 side to premiership success and in the process, enabling the club the distinguished honour of 10 combined men’s and women’s flags.

Enshrined in premiership glory, the Bulldogs club also has representation on a national scale, producing two AFL league footballers over the course of its 47 years of existence.

Former Bulldog Sam Naismith has represented the Sydney Swans and Richmond Tigers throughout his 33-match career, where at the Swans he became their number one and premier ruckman of the side, participating as their starting ruckman in the 2016 AFL Grand Final.

Unfortunately for Naismith, his tenure at the Tigers has only reaped three matches in season 2024, following the devastation of yet another ACL tear during a VFL match for the Tigers and cruelly cutting his season short.

Inaugural premiership Poochette Alice Mitchell is another who has reached the pinnacle of AFL league football, following the success of the Poochettes in their premiership 2020 season She is now on the Sydney Swans AFLW list having completed her first season with the club in 2023.

On the back of an AFLNW women’s and Poochettes best and fairest award in the 2021 season, Mitchell was scouted by the Swans for their debut AFLW season of 2022.

Much like Naismith though, Mitchell suffered a devastating ACL tear during the 2022 pre-season and in turn, what was meant to be her debut season, coincidentally the first of the Swans in the AFLW season, was ultimately cut short through the extent of the surgery and rehabilitation process.

But through that initial tribulation, Mitchell fought her way back into the Swans side for season 2023, where the team achieved a record breaking season in its maiden win in the AFLW competition, with Mitchell a key pillar in the Swans backline at centre halfback competing in the first finals series.

Visitors from around the country are expected to make the trip back to reminisce about their Bulldogs playing days this weekend, reliving their contribution to the club over its 47-year tenure in the AFL North West men’s and women’s competitions.

Meanwhile, the last round of current competition saw the Poochettes women continue their unbeaten start to season 2024, defeating the Tamworth Swans 22-7 in Tamworth at the weekend, while the Bulldogs men suffered defeat at the hands of the Swans to the tune of 127-33 in Tamworth.

The Poochettes continue to impress this season, all but locking themselves in for the minor premiership.

They led from start to finish at the weekend and although the Swans gave them a slight scare in the third quarter, the Poochettes remained defiant in grinding out their sixth consecutive victory of the season in their 15 point victory.

Conversely, the Bulldogs were down on troops for their fixture and against a full-blooded Swans outfit, it showed on the scoreboard.

Little wins were taken from the loss, however, including a brief second-half comeback but due to errant kicking, the Bulldogs could have bridged the losing margin further yet ultimately were outplayed across the park against a side that has contested the last three grand finals of the competition.

Darcy Hill continues to impress and was best on ground for the side at the weekend, as does former tennis ace Andrew Osmond.

In his first season of contact sport, Osmond has been ultra-impressive for the side in switching between the midfield and half-forward line. In combination with wingmen and teenagers, Mason Louis and Tom Carlyon, backman Callan Gibson and ruck-forward Liam Naismith, have merged as exciting and potential future star. They are consistently recognised by current men’s coach Jakob Vearing as part of the Bulldogs’ most consistent performers in the season to date.

Despite the loss, the Bulldogs cling onto third sport through their two wins over the bottom-placed and winless Tamworth Kangaroos – should they defeat the same opposition this weekend, it would all but ensure them finals action for the first time since 2020.

To order photos from this page click here