The remarkable Canterbury Bankstown sides of the late 1970s – early 1980s were known as ‘The Entertainers’ and ‘The Team of Brotherly Love’, as a result of their spectacular ball play and the fact the team contained two sets of three brothers, the Hughes brothers (Graeme, Garry and Mark) and the Mortimers (Steve, Peter and Chris).
Coach Ted Glossop gave free rein to his brilliant attackers, and indeed the team as a whole, to move the ball and tries involving handling movements of more than ten players were not unusual.
This classic Steve Gearin try from the 1980 Grand Final, in which Canterbury defeated minor premiers Easts 18-4, came to epitomise the skill and artistry of this wonderful period for the Bulldogs. (One which would soon be replaced with the successful, but ruthlessly defensive, style of coach Warren Ryan as the 1980s continued.)
With this game nearing fulltime and still in the balance at 13-4 to the Dogs, Easts were on the attack just inside Canterbury territory, when a sloppy pass turned the ball over.
From the play the ball, Canterbury immediately moved it quickly left through firstly (future) Australian half Steve Mortimer and classy five-eighth Garry Hughes.
Sensing an opportunity on the outside, Garry Hughes silkily fed his brother, the multi-skilled second rower, Graeme Hughes, a pass to his left.
Graeme Hughes (a tremendous cricketer and sportsman) immaculately drew two defenders out of the defensive line, and freed future Kangaroos fullback Greg Brentnall on the outside.
Brentnall dashed downfield through the corridor created by Graeme Hughes, drawing the cover and executing a high, perfectly weighted, left-foot bomb which came down only feet from the goal line.
Canterbury winger and goal-kicker Steve Gearin chased the beautifully executed bomb at full pace, his eyes locked on the ball falling from the sky at all times, jumped under considerable pressure from Easts’ winger David Michael and legendary halfback Kevin Hastings, caught the ball magnificently, and grounded it flawlessly across the line.
The normally non-demonstrative Glossop, overcome by the quality of the play, leapt in the air and danced merrily along the touch line, rejoicing in the moment that had seemingly confirmed the Bulldogs as premiership winners in 1980.
This indeed proved to be the Grand Final securing try for Canterbury, their first Grand Final win since 1942 and the first of four secured during the 1980s – a glorious decade for the club. It was also a soothing balm for the itch caused by the loss of the 1979 title to neighbours and rival St George and a complete vindication of the playing style which coach Glossop and captain Dr George Peponis instilled in the men from Canterbury Bankstown.