On Saturday afternoon, Canterbury-Bankstown will face up to a Broncos side under exactly the same type of pressure as the blue and whites.
Both clubs enter the contest winless in season 2021, with the victor breathing a sigh of relief and the loser destined for continued internal and external pressure.
After four years of sub par performances and a salary cap induced rebuild, the Bulldogs had hoped for something a little better in the opening rounds under new coach Trent Barrett. New talent has arrived, the books appear to be well and truly in order and the promise of things to come had generated an excited buzz around one of the NRL’s most famous clubs.
Sadly, a distinct lack of continuity and cohesion in the squad has made its best football seem likely to emerge later rather than sooner.
Canterbury have managed just 16 points thus far, a continuing area of concern and one that Barrett was specifically brought to the club to address. Concerningly, the Bulldog defence has conceded far too many, with Newcastle and Penrith racking up 60 collective points against them across the opening two rounds.
However, as unappealing as those statistics may read and as easy as it might be to predict another season of struggle for them, the Canterbury faithful will continue to do what they have been doing since 1935 when the blue and white story began.
Despite what my kids think, I do not remember that season, or the 40 that followed. However, the thousands of us who have ridden the waves of success, scandal and disaster since the emergence of the Berries/Bulldogs as a consistent premiership threat in the 70’s and 80’s will be on their feet cheering on Saturday afternoon.
It is what Bulldogs fans have always done and will continue to do well into the future. It is hard to remember a time when fans of the Belmore based club were more needed. The last four seasons have seen nothing but turmoil and disappointment, in both a financial and football sense.
Seeing Geoff Robinson storm from the bench and tear into the fray seems the most distant memory right now. As does a chain of passing through the hands of a collection of Mortimer’s, a courageous little Lebanese fella converting a try from the side line or a stocky little number six tracking through the centre of the field, backing up and scoring under the posts.
Such images are Bulldog folklore yet very little of what fans have seen recently will ever hold such a firm place in their hearts and minds. However, just as the club has emerged from the trials and tribulations of the past, so it will again.
New signings Kyle Flanagan, Nick Cotric, Corey Allan and Jack Hetherington symbolise the future, along with controversial Panther Matt Burton and the still developing Jake Averillo, Ofahiki Ogden and Renouf Atoni look like long serving players at the club.
As a collective, they are the reason the fans will pour a glass of their favourite and sit down to watch the famous jumper in action; the reason they will swear at the referee, beg for a penalty and end the match emotionally exhausted.
Because they are the future, they are what comes next for Canterbury. That is the Bulldog way; forward. It is easy to look back and we all know what recent history has looked like for the club, yet that serves no purpose.
Winning Round 3 serves a purpose, as does standing and cheering as a fan when that first win does eventually come, whether it be this week or later. It is what I will be doing on Saturday afternoon, knowing full well that Chairman John Khoury has Canterbury heading in the right direction.
The end point might still be some distance away, but the fans pleasure at reaching it will be made all the worthwhile thanks to the journey undertaken to get there.