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Blue blood flowed from early age for Lynne Anderson

In the latest instalment a 10-part series on some of women’s rugby league’s main trailblazers for Harvey Norman Women In League Round, Margie McDonald details the league life of Bulldogs chair Lynne Anderson.

 

It all began down at the local newsagency in Belmore.

And it was well before Peter "Bullfrog" Moore became perhaps the highest-profile CEO of one of rugby league's most famous clubs – the Canterbury Bulldogs.

His daughter Lynne Anderson's love for the game started before all that.

"Dad and I would walk down to the ground for games from our newsagency. I’d sit on the grandstand steps and be glued for the entire game," Anderson told NRL.com.

"I loved it from day one. But I am still scarred from standing on the old SCG Hill in the 1967 grand final.

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"It was ours, I felt we had our hands on the trophy ... and then Bob McCarthy intercepted a pass and the rest is history. I cried all the way home.

"And it got worse, on Monday I went to school at Regina Coeli primary school in Beverly Hills. On my desk was a red and green rabbit," she said.

"Our parish priest was a fanatical South Sydney fan. I still say that wasn’t very Christian of him, but the religion of footy allows, no, demands that kind of parochialism, doesn’t it?"

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So the blue blood began running early in Anderson's veins. But there was never a moment where she said "I'm going to lead this club one day".

She got into the business side of the Bulldogs after completing her marketing degree at university. She and husband Chris Anderson had returned home after four years of him playing and coaching in the UK (1984-87).

"At the time Canterbury had lost their major sponsor and I remember saying to Dad 'Do you need help?' I hadn't done anything with sponsorship but I did some research and found a few things like the deep multicultural links with the club.

"That's where I found Hyundai. So it was a combination of me just finishing my degree, the club needing a sponsor, so I put my studies to work. I was a fan but I had the marketing tools to help the club.

"We started multicultural days and events. There was no strategic plan by me to get into the club's admin – it just panned out that way."

Anderson said she never felt isolated in the very-much man's world of rugby league in the 1980s and '90s.

I loved it from day one. But I am still scarred from standing on the old SCG Hill in the 1967 grand final

Bulldogs chair Lynne Anderson

"Not at all because Dad had always espoused those family values so everything we did always had females involved. After training all the wives would take the kids down and we'd run around on the field and have a BBQ together.

"There was a level of familiarity and respect among everyone."

Since 2018 she has chaired the Canterbury Football Club board and rubs her eyes when thinking about the changes since those days.

With 45 per cent of all club members women and over 500,000 involved at all levels that's aligned with what Anderson wants to see as the legacy of the Harvey Norman Women in League celebrations - "equal voices".

"Gender is not a determinant of intelligence nor ability to manage a business," she said.

"Women have been fans, astute fans, for many years. We know that diversity of thinking is a key part of success, not tunnel vision with one view only.

"Scrutiny should happen, no-one should be immune from that. But the scrutiny needs to be on the core issues, the real issues.

"I think rugby league is very good at disguising the core issues – that wonderful passion we have in our game can be a double-edged sword."

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However, Anderson would point any parent of a daughter towards rugby league.

"Rugby league is on a great upward curve with our women's game. It is a great game, we do so much good in the community and why wouldn’t someone want to be a part of that?" she said.

"I handed out the jerseys to our Harvey Norman premiership team only a few months after I joined our board, and when I looked up and saw all these beautiful eager faces smiling at me, wearing Bulldogs gear, it made me so proud to see how far we have come.

"I loved the game but never ever dreamed I could pull on our beloved Bulldogs jersey. But guess what? Now my granddaughters can if they want to."

She also wants her granddaughters to experience the great highs of rugby league even if they decide not to play.

Anderson has thousands of great Bulldogs memories but here are two of her favourites.

"The 1980 premiership and breaking the drought of 38 years was something very special.

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"Dad had come into power in 1970 determined to rebuild the club and its culture, starting with looking after players. We had a fantastic bond and that night was one to remember.

"I also look back at 1995 probably in awe of what we achieved by winning that year. We won against so many odds – the ugly Super League war had us pitted against four of our own players and yet somehow the team came together for an incredible surge through the finals to win.

"It was extra special as Dad was CEO, Chris was coach, I was marketing manager. It was the hardest year, lots of personal vitriol and feuding in the game -  but that day I think I sank my head in my hands and cried.  

"Recovered sufficiently to celebrate that night though, of course."