How the mighty have fallen?! Though the Bradford Bulls enjoyed a rather strong season in the Betfred Championship, there’s still no imminent signs of their return to the Super League.
It has been one difficulty after another for the club off the field, all of this culminating in their recent liquidation and resurrection nearly three years ago.
Though they bounced back from Betfred League 1 and under John Kear, narrowly missed out on the play-offs and experienced a strong Challenge Cup run this season, the Bulls are still battling to overcome issues off the field.
The imminent move to Dewsbury, away from the iconic Odsal, has not gone down well with Bulls supporters.
Bradford have a lot to focus on in the future but until then, here’s an account of their 2019 season and where it could have gone better.
Best Result: Bradford Bulls 24-22 Leeds Rhinos
No doubt about it, their greatest result was the shock win in the Challenge Cup over arch-rivals Leeds Rhinos.
Okay, Bradford were in strong form and Leeds weren’t but does that excuse the Rhinos from being disgraced by the part-time Bulls?
However, this was Bradford’s time to shine and they certainly did as they produced a heroic performance, overturning an early deficit to surprise the entire rugby league world!
Tui Lolohea scored early, with Dalton Grant quickly responding for the hosts.
Callum McClelland extended Leeds’ lead to eight points but Bradford stormed back with three tries through Jake Webster, Sam Hallas and Mikey Wood to put them ahead at half-time.
Though Leeds’ Harry Newman and Tom Briscoe would score the only tries in the second half, the goal kicking of Rowan Miles proved to be the difference as Bradford held on for their most famous victory in recent years.
Certainly rolling back the years, not only for the club but also John Kear who is no stranger to involvement in such high profile shock results.
Worst Result: Featherstone Rovers 42-4 Bradford Bulls
A forgettable one has to be their 42-4 drubbing away at play-off rivals Featherstone Rovers.
It has not been a happy hunting ground for the Bulls since they left the Super League, certainly not in 2016 when defeat at Post Office Road ended their Super 8s Qualifiers hopes and the future of the club.
This game was hardly any better as Rovers were just too strong.
Former Bull Dane Chisholm ran the show with his hat-trick of tries and give goals, with further efforts coming in from Cameron King, John Davies, Luke Briscoe, Conor Carey and Josh Walters.
Ethan Ryan touched down for Bradford to help them avoid being blanked there again, but the damage was long done.
Main man: Elliot Minchella
Second year syndrome? Hardly, as Elliot Minchella is the pick of plenty of Bradford players in a strong season.
Since signing from Sheffield, Minchella has become an important player in their ranks and 2019 could have been his strongest.
Minchella scored up to eight tries and over 35 goals in 2019 for the Bulls, becoming a favourite with the fans as he almost helped them into the top five.
Despite their off-field difficulties, full credit to the players, especially Minchella to sticking at it and making this season an exciting one for the Bulls to play for.
Maybe some better success next season should he remain in the foreseeable future? Only time will tell.
Prediction 5th – Finished 6th
Everyone has their limits and unfortunately, the Bulls were limited to narrowly missing out on the play-offs this season.
It was always going to be a tough ask, newly promoted and all, but Bradford did give their rivals a good run for their money, recording some impressive results along the way.
In other news, with Chairman Andrew Chalmers stepping down from his role, a takeover could very well be the salvation they desire.
The club have been down this route more than once already but there surely has to be a turning point and they revive, right?!