Candelo-Bemboka's 'Chocolate Soldiers' marching out

Chocolate soldiers: Candelo-Bemboka celebrate a try during a heritage round in their return 2014 season with anniversary celebrations to run on July 15.

Chocolate soldiers: Candelo-Bemboka celebrate a try during a heritage round in their return 2014 season with anniversary celebrations to run on July 15.

Candelo-Bemboka captain-coach Jake McDonald hopes to put on a big show for fans when the Panthers’ ‘chocolate soldiers’ march out on Saturday. 

The club will host the Merimbula-Pambula Bulldogs in two games as part of 50th anniversary celebrations at Bemboka’s Colombo Park. 

McDonald said after some injuries in previous rounds he was happy to have a refreshed and full strength side to pick from. 

Special brown jumpers have been re-designed for the game, but boast history back to the late 60s when Doug Hambilton was captain-coach of the Penrith Panthers. 

The Penrith club had joined the national competition in 1967, but joined alongside Cronulla and had to drop their royal blue look, instead opting for the chocolate brown jumpers. 

That was the same year, clubman Brad Bobbin said both Candelo and Bemboka footy clubs agreed to amalgamate and a box of the jumpers was gifted to the club. 

The club now sports a more striking teal strip – and hot pink for the ladies – but officials said they were eager to acknowledge their “chocolate” past. 

The two small clubs merged and so it was that Candelo-Bemboka United (RLFC) was born.

The club laid claim to a number of premierships before having to withdraw in 1983 with a lack of numbers. 

In the three years back in the competition, the club has featured in two of the last three reserve grade grand finals and also welcomed a women’s league-tag outfit to the fold. 

The club is currently leading the reserve grade draw and will play host to the Merimbula-Pambula Bulldogs for the special anniversary round at Bemboka’s Colombo Park. 

Gates will open at 12.30pm for two games with the Pink Panthers to meet the Hot Doggies at 1.30pm before a special jumper presentation. 

The ladies have strung together two wins on the trot in recent outings and will take on the Hot Doggies with a renewed vigor in the attack. 

Reserve grade will then run from 3pm with full canteen and bar facilities available. 

Special ‘chocolate soldier’ jumpers will be available for fans to order on the day. 

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