Odsal, Bradford
Name: Odsal, Bradford
Description: Slide of Odsal Stadium, c1970s
Collection: WYMCC DOPET/DOTHE slide collection
Location: WYAS Wakefield
Reference: WD4/205006
Contributor: West Yorkshire Archive Service
Rights: West Yorkshire Archive Service
This page documents the long and colourful history of the famous Bradford Northerners.

Around 150 years old, the club started life in 1863, set up by a local Dye Works owner named Oates Ingham. Just over 20 years later in 1884, the club won the Yorkshire Challenge Cup Trophy for the very first time, making it one of the most successful of the time. It is no surprise that Bradford became one of the 22 clubs to form the Northern Rugby Union on that infamous day in 1895 at the George Hotel in Huddersfield.

In the run-up to the First World War, Bradford enjoyed a whole series of successes winning the League, Challenge Cup and Yorkshire Cup across only four seasons in 1903-1907. However, controversy struck in 1907 when part of the club became the football team Bradford Park Avenue, forcing the rugby to separate and play at Greenfield Stadium (although this changed to Birch Lane just one year later). It was around this time that 'Northern' was added to the club's name.

Post-1918 saw Bradford Northern struggle somewhat both in terms of league position and finances. Never to be beaten when down, the club moved to its present ground at Odsal Top (which had to be converted from a quarry and a Victorian rubbish tip) in 1938. The audiences that have flocked to Odsal are famous with a English record-breaking 64,453 in 1938-1939 and a huge 102,569 in the Warrington-Halifax Challenge Cup Final replay in 1954 - some say that the actual figure was nearer to 120,000.

During and just after the Second World War period, Bradford Northern were once again on the up, appearing at Wembley in a Challenge Cup Final three years on the go, winning both that and the Yorkshire Cup as well. Sadly, the good times were not to last forever, and on 10th December 1963 due to poor attendance figures (amongst other problems), Bradford Northern went out of business.

Showing the Bradford strength of spirit, it was less than 12 months later that the club had re-formed and were accepted back into the Rugby League. Off to a good start, the club won the Yorkshire Cup in just the followign season. From this point onwards, spanning the 70s, 80s and 90s, Bradford Northern are consistent in their achievements and the rivalry formed against local club Leeds RL is as strong as ever.

The formation of Super League in 1995 made a huge impact on the club, changing its name to 'Bradford Bulls' and adopting a new logo. The Bulls win their first Championship in 1997 and are the greatest supported team in Super League throughout the late 1990s. The club had a great start to the Millennium by winning the Challenge Cup for the first time in 50 years. From here, Bulls go on to have their most successful season so far in 2003 winning all three titles of Challenge Cup, League Leaders and Grand Final - the start of the following season also sees the team win the World Club Challenge against Penrith Panthers.

There is no doubt that the Bradford Bulls' history is something to be celebrated and all of its supporters and admirers will be waiting to see what the next 150 years have in store.

The gallery below contains images of a number of original records held by the West Yorkshire Archive Service Bradford office. To contact the Bradford office, please see http://www.archives.wyjs.org.uk/archives-bradford.asp.

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