Most of Canterbury’s 2004 premiership-winning squad have been among about 1200 people who farewelled club legend Steve Folkes at Belmore Sports Ground.
Folkes, 59, died from a heart attack last Tuesday, departing as just one of two people to win a Bulldogs premiership as both a player and coach.
Premiership players Luke Patten, Hazem El Masri, Braith Anasta, Andrew Ryan, Willie Mason, Willie Tonga, Matt Utai and club captain Steve Price attended the service on Monday.
Also paying their tribute were former Bulldogs teammates Paul Langmack, Garry Hughes and Darryl Brohman as well as rugby league identities Steve Roach and Wayne Pearce.
NRL chief executive and former Bulldogs boss Todd Greenberg was present, as were recent ex-Bulldogs Josh Reynolds, Trent Hodkinson and Martin Taupau, and former chairman Ray Dib.
Former Bulldogs player Peter Mortimer spoke fondly of Folkes’ playing career at the club, which included four premierships in what was remembered as the “Dogs of War” era.
Price recalled Folkes’ time as coach, including one particular moment in 2002, just after the players were told the club was stripped of 37 competition points for salary cap breaches.
“When the CEO of the NRL at the time, David Gallop, rung us to let us know of the findings, we were here late. I got a call on the way home from Folkesy,” Price said.
“He said, ‘Pricey, you wouldn’t believe it. I got pulled up by the police on the way home. The police said, ‘You’re gonna lose three points, mate’.
“He goes, ‘Three points, we just lost 37. Another three isn’t going to make a lot of difference’.”
Price said Folkes was one of the major keys to their 2004 triumph over the Sydney Roosters.
“He was the biggest supporter of all the players with what we were going through and the reason why that group of boys won the comp that year was because of him,” Price said.
“When you’ve got a coach who you think the world of and know he’s going to have your back, no matter what you’ll do anything for him.
“And that particular year, you look at how the year started and finished, there wouldn’t have been many teams that would’ve been able to achieve that.”
A video montage showed Folkes’ career as a player and coach at the club, as well as his time as coach of the Australian Jillaroos team.
Current Bulldogs players formed a guard of honour for Folkes’ casket before the service and current and former players repeated the gesture at the end.
Bulldogs coach Dean Pay, skipper Josh Jackson and chief executive Andrew Hill also presented a blue-and-white wreath.
Folkes’ wife, Karen, the daughter of Bulldogs patriarch Peter “Bullfrog” Moore, died almost five years ago to the day.