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Bradford Northern

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Bradford Northern

Bradford Bulls
Full name Bradford Bulls Rugby League Club
Nickname(s) The Bulls
Founded 1907
Ground Provident Stadium,
(Capacity 27,491[1])
Key people England Gerry Sutcliffe MP (Chair)
England Francis Cummins (Coach)
Australia Heath L'Estrange & England Matt Diskin (joint) (Captain)
League Super League
XVII position 10th
Championships 6
Challenge Cups 5
World Club Champions 3
Home colours
Away colours
Current season

Bradford Bulls are a professional rugby league club in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England who play in the Super League. They have won the Challenge Cup five times, been league champions six times and World Club Challenge winners three times. Bradford has played its home games at Odsal Stadium since 1934. The team jersey is white with red, amber and black chevron

Bradford was formed as Bradford Northern in 1907 as a split from Bradford Park Avenue A.F.C., a founder of the Northern Union which switched to playing Association Football, and renamed Bradford Bulls in 1996 at the start of the Super League. Bradford's main historical rivalry is with Leeds and they have other rivalries with Huddersfield Giants and Halifax.

The club's holding company, Bradford Bulls Holdings Ltd, entered administration on 26 June 2012, with debts of over £1,500,000.[2] On 31 August 2012 the administrator accepted an offer for the club from a consortium headed by local businessman Omar Khan and including local MP Gerry Sutcliffe.[3]


Bradford FC: 1863–1907

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 as 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.

Bradford enjoyed some success in the Northern Union. In 1903–04, 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 Cup 8–5 against Hull Kingston Rovers. Meanwhile, Manningham 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. With becoming successful at Bradford City, a meeting was called of the Bradford FC members on April 15, 1907 to decide the rugby club's future. An initial vote appeared to favour continuing in the Northern Union, 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 Northern Union club, appropriately called Bradford Northern, which applied for and was granted Bradford FC's place in the Northern Union for the 1907–08 season. Bradford Northern's first home ground was the Greenfield Athletic stadium in Dudley Hill, to the south of the city. They based themselves at the Greenfield Hotel.

Bradford Northern: 1907–1963

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 RFL said the site was too small and the club kept on looking. Before moving to Odsal, 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 in the 1940s with a number of cup wins: the Yorkshire cup in 1940-1, 1942–3, 1944–5, 1945–6, 1948–9 and 1949–50; and the Challenge cup 1943-4, 1946–7 and 1948-9. In the championship Bradford found it difficult to win either before the war or after despite being runners up in 1942-3 and 1947-8. 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 and lifted the Yorkshire Cup for the fourth time in six seasons.

Bradford defeated Leeds 8–4 to win the Challenge Cup at Wembley in 1947. The 1947-8 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 1951-2 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 third round. This was Northern’s highest ever attendance. Northern also won the Yorkshire Cup final 7–2 against Hull. Bradford Northern 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 Northern's support declined rapidly in the 1963 season, attracting a record low crowd of 324 against Barrow. Northern went out of business on 10 December 1963 having played just 13 matches; winning 1 and losing 12, scoring 109 points and conceding 284.


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 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. 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.

Summer era: 1996–present

In 1996, the first tier of English rugby league clubs played the inaugural Super League season and changed from a winter to a summer season.[4] As the sport in England entered a new era, Bradford rose to prominence. The club won the Super League championship in 1997, 2001, 2003 and 2005, the Challenge Cup in 2000 and 2003 and the World Club Challenge in 2002, 2004 and 2006.

2012 financial difficulties

In March 2012 the club announced that it was in financial difficulties and needed £1 million to keep the club afloat.[5] A public appeal saw a lot of new funds pour in from supporters,[5] 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.[6] 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.[7] 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.[8] On 31 August 2012 a bid for the club from a local consortium, headed by Braford businessman Omar Khan, was accepted by the administrator[9] and was ratified by the RFL in early September.[10] 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.[11]

Season summaries

P=Premiers, R=Runner-Ups, M=Minor Premierships, F=Finals Appearance, W=Wooden Spoons
(Brackets Represent Finals Games)
Competition Played Won Drawn Lost Position P R M F W Coach Captain Main Article
Super League 1 22 17 0 5 3/12 Brian Smith Robbie Paul Bradford Bulls 1996
Super League 2 22 20 0 2 1/12
Matthew Elliott Bradford Bulls 1997
Super League 3 23 12 0 11 5/12
Bradford Bulls 1998
Super League 4 30 25 1 4 1/14
Bradford Bulls 1999
Super League 5 28 20 3 5 3/12
Bradford Bulls 2000
Super League 6 28 22 1 5 1/12
Brian Noble Bradford Bulls 2001
Super League 7 30 24 0 6 3/12
Bradford Bulls 2002
Super League 8 30 24 0 6 1/12
Bradford Bulls 2003
Super League 9 28 20 1 7 2/12
Bradford Bulls 2004
Super League 10 28 18 1 9 3/12
Jamie Peacock Bradford Bulls 2005
Super League 11 28 16 2 10 4/12
Iestyn Harris Bradford Bulls 2006
Steve McNamara
Super League 12 27 17 1 9 3/12
Paul Deacon Bradford Bulls 2007
Super League 13 27 14 0 13 5/12
Bradford Bulls 2008
Super League 14 27 12 1 14 9/14 Bradford Bulls 2009
Super League 15 27 9 1 17 10/14 Lee St Hilaire Andy Lynch Bradford Bulls 2010
Super League 16 27 9 2 16 10/14 Mick Potter Bradford Bulls 2011
Super League 17 27 14 1 12 9/14 Heath L'Estrange, Matt Diskin Bradford Bulls 2012
Super League 18 27 11 2 16 9/14 Francis Cummins Bradford Bulls 2013
Super League 19 0 0 0 0 0/14 Bradford Bulls 2014

Statistics and records


  • Super League
    • Champions: 1997, 2001, 2003, 2005
    • Minor Premiers: 1999, 2001, 2003
    • Grand Finalists: 1999, 2002, 2004
  • Challenge Cup
    • Winners: 1943–44, 1946–47, 1948–49, 2000, 2003
    • Runners-up: 1944–45, 1947–48, 1972–73, 1996, 1997, 2001
  • RFL Championship
    • Champions: 1979–80, 1980–81
    • Beaten Finalists: 1947–48, 1951–52
  • War Emergency League
    • Championship Winners: 1939–40, 1940–41, 1944–45
    • Beaten Finalists: 1941–42
  • Regal Trophy
    • Winners: 1974–75, 1979–80
    • Runners-up: 1990–91, 1992–93
  • Premiership
    • Winners: 1977–78
    • Runners-up: 1978–79, 1979–80, 1989–90
  • Yorkshire Cup
    • Winners: 1940–41, 1941–42, 1943–44, 1945–46, 1948–49, 1949–50, 1953–54, 1965–66, 1978–79, 1987–88, 1989–90
    • Runners-up: 1913–14, 1981–82, 1982–83, 1991–92


Provident Stadium is a stadium situated in Bradford in West Yorkshire, England. The venue is used for rugby league and has been the home ground of Bradford Bulls/Bradford Northern 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 boasts one of the largest attendances of all time for any UK sports event (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, meaning the stadium was named the Provident Stadium.

2014 squad

* As of 2 October 2013.

2014 Bradford Bulls Squad
First team squad Coaching staff

Head coach

Assistant coaches

  • (c) Captain
  • (vc) Vice captain

Updated: 27 November 2012
Source(s): 2013 Squad Numbers

2014 transfers


Name Signed from Fee Date
Garreth Carvell Warrington Wolves 2 Years June 2013
Dale Ferguson Huddersfield Giants 2 Years July 2013
Matty Blythe Warrington Wolves Permanent 3 Years July 2013
Luke George Huddersfield Giants 2 Years July 2013
Lee Gaskell Salford City Reds / St Helens 2 Years August 2013
Adam Henry Sydney Roosters TBC October 2013
Frank Winterstein Widnes Vikings 1 Year October 2013


Name Sold To Contract Date
Elliott Whitehead Catalans Dragons 2 ½ Years June 2013
Keith Lulia Wests Tigers 2 Years July 2013
Jobe Murphy Dewsbury Rams 1 Year September 2013
Jamie Langley Hull Kingston Rovers 1 Year September 2013
Curtis Naughton Sydney Roosters ? Years October 2013
John Bateman Wigan Warriors 3 Years October 2013
Michael Platt TBA TBA October 2013


Minor Sponsorship

  • 1986 - 1997 Bradford Recreational Division
  • 1986 - 1996 Rugby Football League-XIII
  • 1997 - 1998 JWE
  • 2001 - 2003 RBR
  • 2002–present Sovereign Healthcare
  • 2003 - 2005 SMB
  • 2004 - 2008 Damart
  • 2004 - 2008 The Sewell Distribution Group
  • 2007 - 2011 The Gas Showroom
  • 2007 - 2011 Prime Time Recruitment
  • 2008 - 2012 Bradford College
  • 2012 - 2013 Greenwoods
  • 2013 - Rajas
  • 2013 - Aspire

Kit supplier


From 1996 -

Coaching register

The head coach of the Bulls is Francis Cummins appointed 17 September 2012.[13]

See also


External links

  • Bradford Bulls in T&A
  • Bradford Bulls on Sky Sports
  • Bradford on Super League Site
  • BBC Sport-Rugby League

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