By Billy Wilkinson
The final chapter of Bradford Bulls’ troubled tale over the past couple of years appears to be coming to a close. The new ownership of Andrew Chalmers and Graham Lowe appear to be writing a new tale, one full of optimism.
While ownership has changed, managers have changed and a host of players have come and gone during this tough period, there has been two constants. The fans and general manager Stuart Duffy.
Considering what Bradford Bulls have gone through the last five years, you wouldn’t be surprised to see the fans’ support waiver or lose faith.
However, that’s just not the case. While attendance has dwindled over the past few years, the fever pitch excitement that surrounds Odsal Stadium on the weekend still remains the same.
The question of whether the fans’ love for the club has wavered over the years almost seems blasphemous when asked at the ground. “Oh never. It absolutely never wavered. If anything, my love for this team probably grew stronger,” said Bulls fan Joel, 37.
‘There was no way my love for this club was going to crumble under other people’s greed. My dad went through the club being reformed in ’64 and the good times came back eventually. They’ll come back here too.”
And there’s an almost school boy excitement when Duffy begins talking the club he’s served for so long: “It [Bradford Bulls] means a lot to me, it’s been my life for 19 years.”
However, Duffy’s emotion changes when talking about the supporters that have had to endure the past few years. “I feel for the fans. It’s been as hard a time for them as anyone else. At the end of the day it’s the fans that suffer.”
When talking to the fans, it’s evident that Bradford Bulls are still a vital part of the local area. “It’s been a ritual for my grand dad, my dad, me and now I’m taking my son to every game,” said Lee, 52.
‘This community thrives when Bradford do well, and when they don’t do well, the whole local area seems down. The past few years haven’t felt right.”
The community may not be down for much longer, as Duffy believes the club is moving in the right direction and sees Bradford Bulls as a franchise holder in the Super League within five years.
It’s incredible that after all that has happened to the loyal fans of Bradford, even Lee and Joe both see the club competing in the play-offs within five years.