The Bradford Bulls are a professional rugby league club in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England, currently playing in the Championship. They have won the Challenge Cup five times, the league championship six times and the World Club Challenge three times. Bradford play their home games at Odsal Stadium. The team jersey is white with red, amber and black chevrons.
|Full name||Bradford Bulls Rugby League Football Club|
|Short name||Bradford Bulls|
|Colours||Red, amber, black, and white|
|Founded||1907(as Bradford Northern)|
|2018 season||2nd (promoted)|
|Championships||6 (1980, 1981, 1997, 2001, 2003, 2005)|
|Challenge Cups||5 (1944, 1947, 1949, 2000, 2003)|
|World Club Challenges||3 (2002, 2004, 2006)|
In 1907, founder member of the Rugby Football League (RFL) Bradford F.C. switched codes to association football, and Bradford Northern (later Bradford Bulls) was formed by members who wished to continue rugby. Bradford Northern were renamed Bradford Bulls in 1996, at the start of Super League. Bradford's main rivalry was with Leeds; they also had rivalries with Halifax and Huddersfield.
The club entered administration in 2012, and again in 2014 and 2016. Several bids were made to take over the club but none were accepted by the administrators, and so on 3 January 2017 the club went into liquidation. Immediately the RFL announced the criteria and invited bids to form a "new club", which ultimately acted as an immediate resurrection of the Bulls which retained the history, club colours, badge, home stadium and a several players from the 2016 squad. Due to the administration and liquidation, the club started the 2017 season with a 12-point deduction. With a few games left of the 2017 season, Bradford's relegation fears were confirmed and in 2018 they played in League One earning promotion back to the Championship after beating Workington Town on 7 October 2018.
1863–1907: Bradford F.C.Edit
The original Bradford Football Club was formed in 1863 and played rugby football, subsequently joining the Rugby Football Union. Initially the club played at Horton Cricket Ground, All Saints Road but were asked to leave because of damage to the pitch. They then moved to Laisteridge Lane and later North Park Road in Manningham. A nomadic existence continued as they then went on to Peel Park, then Girlington and Apperley Bridge.
Bradford Football Club and Bradford Cricket Club bought Park Avenue in 1879 and this resulted in the club becoming "Bradford Cricket, Athletic and Football Club". The club's headquarters were at the Talbot Darley Street, and later The Alexandra, Great Horton Road. The club achieved its first major success by winning the Yorkshire Cup in 1884.
In 1895, along with cross-town neighbours Manningham F.C., Bradford was among 22 clubs to secede from the Rugby Football Union after the historic meeting at the George Hotel in Huddersfield in response to a dispute over "broken time" payments to players who were thus part-time professionals. These 22 clubs formed the Northern Rugby Football Union (which eventually became the Rugby Football League) and rugby league football was born.
Bradford enjoyed some success in the new competition. In the 1903–04 Northern Rugby Football Union season, the team finished level on points with Salford at the top of the league and then won the resulting play-off 5–0. In 1905–06, Bradford beat Salford 5–0 to win the Challenge Cup and were runners-up in the Championship. In 1906–07, Bradford won the Yorkshire County Cup 8–5 against Hull Kingston Rovers.
During this time Manningham F.C. had run into financial difficulties and, despite a summer archery contest that generated enough money to ensure their survival, its members were persuaded to swap codes and play association football instead. Manningham was invited to join the Football League in 1903, in an attempt to promote football in a rugby-dominated region, and the newly renamed Bradford City A.F.C. was voted into full membership of the Second Division without having played a game of football, having a complete team or even being able to guarantee a ground. The creation of Bradford City led to demands for association football at Park Avenue too. The ground had already hosted some football matches including one in the 1880s between Blackburn Rovers and Blackburn Olympic F.C.. In 1895, a Bradford side had beaten a team from Moss Side, Manchester, by 4–1 in front of 3,000 spectators. Following the change at Bradford City, a meeting was called of the Bradford FC members on 15 April 1907 to decide the rugby club's future. An initial vote appeared to favour continuing in rugby league, but then opinion shifted towards rugby union and the chairman, Mr Briggs, used his influence to swing the committee behind the proposed move to association football. This act, sometimes referred to as "The Great Betrayal", led to Bradford FC becoming the Bradford Park Avenue Association Football Club. The minority faction decided to split and form a new club to continue playing in the Northern Union, appropriately called "Bradford Northern", which applied for and was granted Bradford FC's place in the 1907–08 Northern Rugby Football Union season. Bradford Northern's first home ground was the Greenfield Athletic Ground in Dudley Hill, to the south of the city. They based themselves at the Greenfield Hotel.
1907–1963: Bradford NorthernEdit
Northern moved to Birch Lane in 1908. Bradford council offered the club a site for a new stadium between Rooley Lane and Mayo Avenue in 1927. However the NRFU said the site was too small and the club kept on looking. Before moving to Odsal, Bradford Northern had had two other homes at Greenfield Athletic Ground in Dudley Hill and at Birch Lane which was part of the Bowling Old Lane cricket ground, although at times they also had to hire Valley Parade as the capacity at Birch Lane was insufficient for large matches.
On 20 June 1933 Bradford Northern signed a ten-year lease with Bradford council for a former quarry being used as a waste dump at Odsal Top. It was turned into the biggest stadium outside Wembley. The Bradford Northern team played its first match there on 1 September 1934.
Success came to Bradford in the 1940s with a number of cup wins: the Yorkshire cup in 1940–41, 1942–43, 1944–45, 1945–46, 1948–49 and 1949–50; and the Challenge Cup 1943–44, 1946–47 and 1948–49. In the Championship Bradford found it difficult to win either before the war or after despite being runners up in 1942–43 and 1947–48. On Saturday 3 November 1945, Bradford Northern met Wakefield Trinity in the final of the Yorkshire Cup held at Thrum Hall, Halifax. Wakefield began the match as favourites, they had lost only one of thirteen matches thus far in the season. However, Bradford won 5–2 Frank Whitcombe scoring the try converted by George Carmichael and lifted the Yorkshire Cup for the fourth time in six seasons.
Bradford defeated Leeds 8–4 to win the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley in 1947. The 1947–48 Challenge Cup final was notable as it was the first rugby league match to be attended by the reigning monarch, King George VI, who presented the trophy. It was also the first televised rugby league match as it was broadcast to the Midlands. Unfortunately Bradford lost 8–3 to Wigan and Frank Whitcombe became the first player to win the Lance Todd trophy on the losing side. The 1949 Challenge Cup final was sold out for first time as 95,050 spectators saw Bradford beat Halifax. In 1951–52 Bradford were runners up in the league but beat New Zealand at Odsal in the first floodlit football match of any code in the North of England.
In 1953, a crowd of 69,429 watched Bradford play Huddersfield in the Challenge Cup's third round. This was Bradford's highest ever attendance. They also won the Yorkshire Cup final 7–2 against Hull. Bradford and Leigh were the first rugby league clubs to stage matches on a Sunday in December 1954, although there was opposition from the Sunday Observance lobby.
Bradford's support declined rapidly in the 1963 season, attracting a record low crowd of 324 against Barrow. The club went out of business on 10 December 1963, having played just 13 matches; winning 1 and losing 12, scoring 109 points and conceding 284, the results were declared null and void, and expunged from the 1963–64 season's records.
1964–1995: Third clubEdit
A meeting on 14 April 1964 saw 1,500 people turn out to discuss the formation of a new club, and those present promised a £1000 to help get plans for the new organisation underway. Amongst those who led proceedings were former players Joe Phillips and Trevor Foster. On 20 July 1964, Bradford Northern (1964) Ltd came into existence. The club's new side had been built for around £15,000 and had Jack Wilkinson as coach. On 22 August 1964, Hull Kingston Rovers provided the opposition in the reformed club's first match and 14,500 spectators turned out to show their support, as Odsal hosted its first 10,000 plus gate for a Bradford Northern match since 1957.
The reformed club won its first cup in 1965–66 by beating Hunslet 17–8 in the final of the Yorkshire County Cup. In 1972–73 Bradford lost the Challenge Cup final against Featherstone Rovers 33–14. In 1973–74 Bradford won the Second Division Championship and were promoted back to the First Division. During this season Keith Mumby made his début, becoming the Bradford's youngest player at only 16 years of age, kicking 12 goals and scoring a try in the match against Doncaster. He went on to make a record 576 appearances for the club. In 1974–75 Bradford won the Regal Trophy 3–2 against Widnes.
Peter Fox joined Bradford as coach for the first time in 1977–78. Bradford won the Premiership final 17–8 against Widnes and were also Championship runners-up.
In 1978–79 Bradford appeared in another Premiership final this time losing 24–2 to Leeds. A year later Bradford won the Championship and Regal Trophy, Peter Fox winning the award for Coach of the Year. In 1980–81 the club made it back-to-back championships. In 1981–82, Bradford lost the Yorkshire Cup final 10–5 against Castleford and lost again in 1982–83, this time 18–7 against Hull F.C. Keith Mumby won the award for First Division Player of the Year while Brian Noble won the Young Player award.
In 1985, Ellery Hanley left Northern to join Wigan for a then record transfer deal, worth £80,000 and a player exchange involving Steve Donlan and Phil Ford. By November 1987, Bradford had cash-flow problems and the local council refused to help financially, but appointed a special committee to administer the clubs' finances. In December 1987, desperate for cash, Bradford transfer-listed 22 players for a total of £210,000 plus Phil Ford for £120,000.
In 1987–88 Bradford won the Yorkshire Cup final replay against Castleford 11–2 after drawing 12–12. Ron Willey coached Bradford Northern for a short stint in 1989–90 and led them to the Premiership final and success in the Yorkshire Cup final when they beat Featherstone Rovers 20–14.
David Hobbs became coach at Northern in 1990 until he left for Wakefield Trinity in 1994. Bradford lost the Regal Trophy against Warrington 12–2 in 1990–91. Peter Fox returned to Bradford for a second spell as coach in 1991, and in 1993–94, Bradford finished as runners-up behind Wigan on points difference. Fox left the club in 1995.
1996–2011: Golden eraEdit
In 1996, the first tier of English rugby league clubs changed from a winter to a summer season and played the inaugural Super League season. Bradford dropped the 'Northern' name to become Bradford Bulls. Matthew Elliot took over as head coach in 1996. The Bulls won the Super League title in his first season.
Elliot coached the Bradford Bulls to the 1999 Super League Grand Final which was lost to St Helens.
Brian Noble was appointed Bradford head coach in November 2000. Noble took the Bradford Bulls to the 2001 Super League Grand Final in which they defeated the Wigan Warriors. As Super League VI champions, the Bulls played against 2001 NRL Premiers, the Newcastle Knights in the 2002 World Club Challenge. Noble oversaw Bradford's victory. He took the Bulls to the 2002 Super League Grand Final which was lost to St. Helens.
On 20 April 2006, Steve McNamara was promoted to head coach of Bradford following Brian Noble's departure to Wigan. At the time he was the youngest coach in Britain. In his first season in charge, he guided Bradford to the Super League play-offs before the club were knocked out in the grand final eliminator by Hull
Following an eighth consecutive defeat, the Bulls' worst run in Super League, McNamara's contract was mutually terminated on 13 July 2010. Lee St Hilaire was coach for the rest of the 2010 season.
Mick Potter became coach in 2011. Despite the club being placed in receivership in 2012, the team was on the verge of making the semi-finals of Super League as Potter remained as unpaid coach.
2012–2017: Administrations, relegation and liquidationEdit
In March 2012 the club announced that it was in financial difficulties and needed £1 million to keep the club afloat. A public appeal saw a lot of new funds pour in from supporters, but following the issue of a winding up petition from HMRC for unpaid taxes the holding company for the club was forced to go into administration on 26 June 2012. The Rugby Football League announced that had the company been wound up then the team would be allowed to complete their fixtures for the 2012 Super League season under the possible ownership of a supporters trust. On 2 July 2012, the club's administrator, Brendan Guilfoyle, made sixteen members of staff, including the coach Mick Potter and chief executive Ryan Duckett, redundant, but announced that the club would attempt to fulfill its fixtures. Mick Potter continued as an unpaid coach until the end of the season. On 31 August 2012 a bid for the club from a local consortium, headed by Bradford businessman Omar Khan, was accepted by the administrator and was ratified by the RFL in early September. Days later the RFL also granted the new owners a one-year probationary licence enabling the club to compete in Super League XVIII in 2013.
Francis Cummins was appointed as head coach of the Bulls in September 2012. During the 2012/13 season the Bulls appointed Dr Allan Johnston to the backroom staff to support the players wellbeing and performance. This appointment was thought to be the first of its kind in Rugby League. In late December 2013 it was announced that chairman Mark Moore and directors Ian Watt and Andrew Calvert had resigned.
In 2014, relegation was reintroduced to the Super League with two teams being relegated. Bradford were deducted 6 points for entering administration early on in the season and the Bulls were relegated from the top division of rugby league in Britain for the first time in 40 years. Francis Cummins was sacked around the time of relegation and replaced by James Lowes and won most of their remaining games.
Bradford began their first Championship campaign in 40 years against Leigh away where they narrowly lost the game. By the end of the regular season they entered the Super 8s finishing second. In the Qualifiers Bradford failed to make the top three for automatic entry to Super League for 2016, finishing 5th which meant a trip to Wakefield to play them in the first ever Million Pound Game. Bradford would lose 24–16, condemning them to a second year in the Championship.
In preparation for the 2016 season, Bradford completed the signings of several experienced players, such as Centre Kris Welham from Super League side Hull Kingston Rovers, as well as Oscar Thomas, Mitch Clark, Johnny Campbell, Jonathan Walker and Kurt Haggerty from London Broncos, Doncaster, Batley and Leigh. Bradford started the season strongly, with a win over fellow promotion hopefuls Featherstone Rovers by 22–12. Omari Caro scored a hat-trick in this match. This was followed up by away wins at Whitehaven and Swinton. Bradford's season was ultimately disappointing with failure to reach the Qualifiers, this meant Bradford would miss out on a chance of promotion
On 14 November 2016, Bradford Bulls were placed in administration for the third time since 2012. On 16 November, the RFL cancelled Bradford's membership, making their future uncertain. In the ensuing weeks several bids to buy the club were made but despite one bid being acceptable to the RFL, none were accepted by the administrator and the club went into liquidation on 3 January 2017.
Following liquidation the RFL issued a statement saying:
While a number of alternatives were considered the Board was most mindful of the planning already undertaken by all other clubs in the competition structure, the season tickets already purchased and the players and staff who will now be seeking employment in and around the sport in 2017.
Accordingly the Board has agreed that the wider interests of the sport is best satisfied if it offers a place in the Kingstone Press Championship to any new club in Bradford and that such a club start the 2017 season on minus 12 points. The RFL believes that Rugby League needs Bradford and that Bradford deserves a strong and stable professional club and will work with all interested parties to deliver that outcome.
2017–present: Fourth holding companyEdit
After the Bulls went into liquidation in January 2017 the Rugby Football League (RFL) invited bids to form a new club based in Bradford who would be allowed to take the place of the Bulls in the 2017 Championship but would start with a 12-point penalty deduction.
The RFL issued a set of criteria for anyone wishing to bid for the new club and there were 12 expressions of interest of which four were converted into bids submitted to the RFL. On 13 January the RFL announced that a consortium to run the new club had been selected an notified of the decision. The new owner was publicly announced on 17 January as Andrew Chalmers, the former chairman of the New Zealand Rugby League. Also involved is former player and coach, Graham Lowe.
The parent company of the club is registered as Bradford Bulls 2017 Limited at Companies House, and the team continue to be known as Bradford Bulls, also retaining the club colours, stadium and several players from the 2016 squad. On 20 January 2017 Geoff Toovey was named as coach and Leon Pryce as captain. However, a delay in processing his paperwork left Toovey unable to fulfil his role and led to Leigh Beattie being appointed as interim coach.
Odsal Stadium has been the home ground of Bradford Northern/Bulls since 1934. Odsal has also hosted many other sports, including association football, speedway, stock car racing, basketball, featuring the Harlem Globetrotters, wrestling, show jumping and kabaddi. The stadium's largest attendances was 102,569, when Halifax played Warrington on 5 May 1954 in the Challenge Cup Final replay.
From 9 November 2012, the Bulls sold the naming rights again to local business Provident Financial, and the stadium was renamed the Provident Stadium. The deal with Provident was ended in February 2018.
Crest and coloursEdit
Up until the Super League era the club was known as Bradford Northern and used the Bradford city coat of arms. When the club was rebranded Bradford Bulls the crest was changed to a similar design to that of the Chicago Bulls.
Bradford's playing colours were red, yellow, black and white. Bradford's strips were predominantly white with a red, yellow and black band.
Kit sponsors and manufacturersEdit
|Year||Kit Manufacturer||Main Shirt Sponsor|
|2000||Joe Bloggs Clothing|
Bradford's main rivals are Leeds Rhinos who they've played in multiple finals, especially during the early years of Super League as well as St Helens whom they faced in two successive Challenge cup finals during the golden era. They also have a lesser local rivalry with Keighley Cougars although this was considered a one-way rivalry and competitive fixtures were rare as they played in different divisions. They also have other local rivalries with Huddersfield Giants and Halifax.
|Bradford Bulls 2019 Squad|
|First team squad||Coaching staff|
Updated: 15 December 2018
This section needs additional citations for verification. (September 2018) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
|Callum Bustin||Castleford Tigers||1 Year||July 2018|
|Jake Webster||Castleford Tigers||2 Years||August 2018|
|James Green||Castleford Tigers||1 Year||August 2018|
|Jon Magrin||Sheffield Eagles||1 Year||September 2018|
|Jordan Lilley||Leeds Rhinos||1 Year Loan||August 2018|
|David Foggin-Johnston||Hunslet Hawks||1 Year||September 2018|
|Mikey Wood||Huddersfield Giants||1 Year||October 2018|
|Matty Wildie||Featherstone Rovers||1 Year||October 2018|
|Jy Hitchcox||Castleford Tigers||2 Years||October 2018|
|Connor Farrell||Featherstone Rovers||2 Years||October 2018|
|Rhys Evans||Leigh Centurions||1 Year||December 2018|
|Trae O’Sullivan||Keighley Cougars||1 Year||January 2019|
|James Davies||Left||N/A||August 2018|
|Jordan Andrade||Dewsbury Rams||1 Year||November 2018|
|Lee Smith||Retirement||N/A||October 2018|
|Vila Halafihi||Hunslet R.L.F.C.||2 Years||November 2018|
|Reiss Butterworth||Huddersfield Giants||3 Years||October 2018|
|Harvey Burnett||Dewsbury Rams||1 Year||December 2018|
|Alex Brown||Dewsbury Rams||1 Year||December 2018|
|Daniel King||Dewsbury Rams||1 Year||December 2018|
Harry Sunderland Trophy winnersEdit
Lance Todd Trophy winnersEdit
The Lance Todd Trophy is awarded to the Man-of-the-Match in the Challenge Cup Final. Introduced in 1946, the trophy was named in memory of Lance Todd, the New Zealand-born player and administrator, who was killed in a road accident during the Second World War.
Steve Prescott Man of Steel winnersEdit
|1985||Ellery Hanley||Loose forward|
|1998||Jamie Peacock||Second row|
Treble winning teamEdit
From 1996 -
- Winners (6): 1979–80, 1980–81, 1997, 2001, 2003, 2005
- Winners (3): 1999, 2001, 2003
- Winners (6): 1979–80, 1980–81, 1997, 2001, 2003, 2005
- Winners (1): 1973-74
- Winners (1): 2016
- Winners (1): 1973-74
- Winners (1): 2018
- Winners (1): 1977-78
- Winners (1): 1947-48
- Winners (5): 1943-44, 1946-47, 1948-49, 2000, 2003
- Winners (2): 1974-75, 1979-80
- Winners (12): 1940–41, 1941–42, 1943–44, 1945–46, 1948–49, 1949–50, 1953–54, 1965–66, 1978–79, 1987–88, 1989–90, 2019
- Winners (3): 2002 ,2004, 2006
- Biggest win:
- Biggest loss:
- Highest Super League attendance:
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- "Bradford Bulls: RFL grants club Super League licence". BBC Sport. 14 September 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
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- "BULLS APPOINT PSYCHIATRIST". Bradford Bulls. 1 April 2013. Retrieved 6 December 2016.[permanent dead link]
- "Bradford Bulls directors quit Super League club", BBC Sport, 24 December 2013. Retrieved 25 December 2013
- "Bulls star Mellor targeting unbeaten end to campaign". Telegraph & Argus. 29 July 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
- "Bradford Bulls: Championship club placed in administration for third time". BBC Sport. 14 November 2016. Retrieved 14 November 2016.
- "Bradford Bulls go into liquidation – MP Judith Cummins demands an investigation". Telegraph & Argus. 3 January 2017. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
- "RFL assesses four bids to set up new club after Bradford's liquidation". The Guardian. 9 January 2017. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
- "RFL finalises deal with unnamed bidder for Bradford Bulls replacement". The Guardian. 9 January 2017. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
- "Andrew Chalmers and Graham Lowe named new Bradford club owners". BBC Sport. 17 January 2017. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
- "Geoff Toovey: Australian named coach of new Bradford Bulls". BBC Sport. 20 January 2017. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
- "'Things are starting to fall into place' – Leigh Beattie on Bradford Bulls progress". Telegraph & Argus. 26 February 2017. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
- "Bradford Bulls eye new stadium sponsors after Provident Financial partnership ends". Telegraph & Argus. 12 February 2018. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
- "Callum Bustin joins Bradford Bulls on loan". Telegraph and Argus. 14 December 2017. Retrieved 15 January 2018.
- "Bradford Bulls sign Castleford centre Jake Webster". Telegraph and Argus. 21 August 2018. Retrieved 26 September 2018.