Bradford Bulls were once the dominant force in rugby league.
They acclimatised to Super League perhaps the best. Yes St Helens were slightly more success than them in the early years of the competition, but Super League’s second ever Champions bought into the ethos behind the new competition better than anyone else as exemplified by their name change and the carnival atmosphere at Odsal week in week out.
They lifted the Super League in 1997, won the 2001 Grand Final prior to the treble in 2003 and a shock third Grand Final win in 2005 when they became the first side outside the top two to be crowned Champions.
They played in five consecutive Grand Finals and won the World Club Challenge in 2006 but in the years that followed they would slip down the league.
In fact, still today 2008 is the last time they played in the play-offs and in 2014 they suffered relegation.
In 2015, they nearly climbed back but lost the million pound game against Wakefield Trinity and have remained absent since.
However, the next generation of Bradford fans were able to sample the old days in 2019. The days when Bradford vs Leeds was the biggest fixture in town from 2003-07.
This came as the Bulls hosted Leeds in the Challenge Cup. This is a Rhinos side who since the Bulls had last won a trophy had lifted 13 major trophies.
However, a struggling Leeds side were stunned by the Bulls in the Cup in a fairy tale occasion for the Bulls.
Speaking to Serious About Rugby League recently, former Bradford Bulls star, and indeed ex-Leeds star, Sam Hallas opened up about the Bulls’ biggest win for a decade.
“That was ace,” Hallas said, “There was a good feeling all week and we had a meeting about what the win would mean and a couple of people got emotional about it.
“For me it wasn’t about being bitter because they’d let me go, that’s just sport, for me I was a Bradford fan growing up so I thought I might never get this chance again and when we did it was one of the best feelings in the world and to get a try as well which was fantastic.”
Unfortunately, in the next round they failed to get the job done against Championship rivals Halifax who went on to play St Helens in the semi-finals which Hallas described as annoying:
“Then we couldn’t get the job done against Halifax which was annoying really.”
These days Hallas plays for another club with an age old rivalry with Leeds in the shape of Hunslet. Once a powerhouse long ago, they would also love a giant killing against Leeds one day soon.