The UNSW/ES Bulldogs club was formed following the 1999/2000 merger of
East Sydney Football Club with University of New South Wales.
East Sydney Football Club
The East Sydney Football Club was established in 1880 when a group of enthusiastic locals met in Cascade Street, Paddington to organise a match to be played in the New Year. In April 1880 a match was played at Moore Park between East Sydney in their dark blue with gold sash, and Sydney in dark blue. And with that, organised football began in Sydney in which five clubs, East Sydney, Newtown, Sydney, South Sydney, and Sydney University, competed.
In 1903 the foundation of the Sydney Football League, consisting of teams from East Sydney, Sydney, Newtown, Redfern, YMCA, and Balmain was created. Integral in this foundation was Jim Phelan whose memory is honoured in AFL today through the ‘Phelan Medal’ awarded to the Best & Fairest player each year in Seniors Premier Division of Sydney AFL.
1926 saw the merger between two of the most successful clubs in Sydney; East Sydney and Paddington (whose actual date of existence is uncertain).
Given each sides mutual success, the move to amalgamate seems a strange one, but no doubt the reasons precipitating the move seemed persuasive at the time. In any case, it is difficult to criticise a venture which proved so successful, as for more than half a century the merged organisation, known as Eastern Suburbs (up until 1968 after which it reverted back to East Sydney), was by some measure the most consistently successful in Sydney football.
Its most auspicious era came in the 1950s, when it claimed seven premierships in a row from 1953 to 1959, establishing a record which still stands, for the most successive flags in any senior state football league. The club was also strong during the first half of the 1980s, with five successive flags between 1980 and 1984 and produced an average winning score of 73 points. The tally of 30.24 (204) amassed against North Shore in the 1980 grand final is a league record for a premiership deciding match. After winning the 1984 flag East Sydney went on to contest each subsequent finals series during the 1980s, but without enjoying further premiership success.
East Sydney Football Club remained one of the first and most successful football clubs established in Australia with the following impressive stats
Pre 1925 East’s won nine First Grade premierships including the first SFL flag, in 1903. This was followed with premiership success in 1926, 1927, 1941, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1971, 1973, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, and finally back-to-back flags in 2002 & 2003.
UNSW Australian National Football Club
The University of New South Wales Australian National Football Club was formed on 22 March 1962. The club intended on sending a team to Adelaide for intervarsity that year but did not because only 18 players were available instead of the required 22. 1963 was the club’s first year of active participation. The club came fifth at intervarsity, which was held in Sydney, and Denis Aitken and Ian Sharpe were selected to play in an All Australian Universities side against NSW.
In 1964, UNSW’s players competed in regular competition for the first time in a combined Universities side with Sydney University. The club also fielded a team at intervarsity in Perth.
From 1965, it was decided that the combined Universities side be separated and the club commenced regular competition for the first time as the University of New South Wales in first division, with a team in reserve grade only. 1966 was the club’s first premiership year. The team was promoted to first grade in 1969 after four consecutive grand final appearances from 1965-68, which included two premierships. In 1970, the leagues were restructured and the club fielded two sides in the second division competition. The leagues in Sydney have changed many times since then, expanding to three small divisions in 1971 and consolidating to two large divisions in 1994. Since 1970, the club has always competed in second division with at least two grades.
After the season of 1987 the club officially folded. A meeting of the committee was held and the proposal was put to the vote. It was carried with two dissenters. The vote was later determined to be unconstitutional, however the two dissenters left the meeting and agreed to take on the organisation of the club and to field two teams in 1998.
In 1999 University of New South Wales merged with the Eastern Suburbs (which had changed its name from East Sydney again in the 1990s) and the rest as they say is History.