First Encounters: Bulldogs v Knights

We have dusted off the history records at Bulldogs HQ to bring you all the information from the first time the Bulldogs ever played against the Newcastle Knights!


The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs took on the Newcastle Knights when the Novacastrian club was established in 1988.


The NSWRL has previously suggested the need for a team that represented Newcastle be admitted into the competition in 1982 however this was declined as the Newcastle Rugby League body was worried about the effect of the Hunters local rugby league competition.


Newcastle become part of the NSW Rugby Leagues plans for further expansion again in 1988 and proved to be a successful addition to the league in its initial years.


1988 was a big year for Australia, Rugby League and the Canterbury Bulldogs. It was the Bicentennial celebration of European settlement in Australia and the first year that the Rugby league Grand Final would be played out at the Sydney Football Stadium.


Other notable events in Australia during that year include:


Popular Channel Seven TV Soap Home and Away is Launched

A Current Affair is also launched

Queen Elizabeth II opens the new Parliament House in Canberra

The Worlds largest underground mine opens in Australia

Australia Compete at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul Korea where they took home 3 Gold Medals, 6 Silver Medals and 5 Bronze Medals


For Canterbury, it meant new beginnings as the club looked towards a new direction with a youthful and talented coach, Phil Gould.


Author of the Bulldog Story Gary Lester summed up some of the rhetoric surrounding the appointment of a 29 year old Gould to Canterburys first grade side:


As coach of Canterbury's reserve grade side in 1987, he had shown Canterbury's management that he was a coach above the ordinary, one who saw the game through his own eyes. His team made the semi-finals and lost only two matches in the second round of the premiership. The Canterbury management believed Gould had proved himself and was the right coach for the job.


Many questioned Canterbury's decision to appoint a 29-year-old to lead the club's charge back to the finals. After all, Gould was young enough to be playing and had played with a number of the players he was about to coach. The football arena was strewn with coaches who had failed to come to terms with coaching players who were former team mates.



The Captaincy of the Bulldogs in 1988 was subject to much controversy with Phil Gould taking the honours off Steve Mortimer and handing it over to Peter Tunks. Peter was very successful in his first year as captain taking the Bulldogs all the way to the 1988 Grand Final when they defeated Balmain 24-12.


The first Bulldogs v Knights game was played at the Bulldogs spiritual home Belmore Sports Ground on the 22nd May in round 11 of the Premiership. Canterbury comfortably defeated the new comers 26-8 in front of 6253 fans.

Tony Currie, Glen Nissen and Terry Lamb all crossed the white line with Terry Lamb notching 16 points for the game including two tries and four goals.


For the full match report and much more, check out the Bulldogs Online History Database