Bradford Bulls - Odsal |
In last weekâ€™s guide I was very kind to Salford. I did not mention the truly awful ladies toilets that last week were swimming in water - it was a â€˜roll your trouser legs up and paddleâ€™ job. Neither did I mention the drab, dirty surroundings of the ground, or the turnstiles built only for Lowryâ€™s thin stickmen, but this week I shall endeavour to be entirely honest!
Odsal is â€˜orrible!
It has variously been described as a meteor crater, a ready-to-go landfill site, a dump etc. etc.. It has been the home of Bradford RL since 1934 and over many years has been the centre of speculation about redevelopment. Hence the temporary move of the Bulls to Valley Parade a few years ago. That was pretty awful, but there were mixed feelings in some parts about the return to Odsal last year.
It used to be an exciting trip to watch Speedway or Stock car racing there and I swear sometimes I can still smell the â€˜Redexâ€™ and hear the crash of brightly painted metal on the iron and wire barriers that used to surround the track. The ground still bears the marks, in that it is elliptical and the corners of the pitch still slope up alarmingly. It also means that spectators are a very long way from the pitch. Superb eyesight or binos are a must!
Once inside the turnstiles in the wall you have to make your way down into the bowl, via several sets of steps. If the ground seems full though, donâ€™t try to sit on the grass on the way down, because for some unknown reason the stewards donâ€™t like it. There is only one covered stand along the side and it is usually filled with Bulls fans. The steep terraces are uncovered on two sides of the pitch. If it rains you get wet, simple as that. I think, in the past, we have been wetter and colder here than anywhere else in the Superleague. The far end, behind the sticks, is now taken up by a hospitality/media stand. Right at the top, there are things for the kids, Bouncy Castles etc., and around the top of the terracing are plenty of food and sweet stalls. You can get some of the best hot pork rolls and the crispest chips around here.
When full, it does have an atmosphere. The 1999 match, won by them 19 -18 with a Michael Withers drop goal, was such a match, with a crowd of 24,020. However, there was a time, earlier in Superleague, when there was so little vocal and visible support from â€˜Bratfortâ€™ that crowd noises were put out through the PA system. That always caused a laugh. Now they have some of the most extravagant pre-match entertainment, and some of the naffest ever seen! The costumes of troupes of dancers are so over-the-top and the clips of songs for each player are laughable, and flipping annoying. Perhaps the most annoying is the daft lad dressed as Dennis the Menace and the cars driving around the pitch. At least they include kids in Rhinos kit in the parade though.
They may be â€˜our greatest rivalsâ€™ and being so close geographically there is always an edge to games, but banter between fans is good and you will often see family groups with some people wearing Bulls shirts and some in Rhinos shirts. It is a healthy rivalry and relationship between the fans, even if not between the Boards and administrations. (What has happened to the Welshman saga?) Many other players, such as James Lowes and Karl Pratt, moving there has always added spice too. Another niggle between the fans is down to the â€˜treacheryâ€™ of our original Ronnie having transferred to become, I think, Bullmanâ€™s assistant because he did not want to be a fulltime Rhino! 'How dare you?' It will be remembered for years to come! We have the clear advantage now with our glorious GF win, but they still pose a threat.
Home chant...They must have someone, with nothing better to do, working on current and bygone popular songs to come up with bits for individual players, but the only regular chant you hear is â€˜Bratfort! Bratfort!
Reply chant...a short chant referring to an excellent garden fertilizer. (â€˜If you all hate Bradford!â€™ can be heard around any Superleague ground).
Place to sit...You canâ€™t, unless you are prepared to get there very early and try for the Pulse FM Family stand. Most Leeds fans stand behind the sticks but it is very difficult to see what is happening at the far end. Some stand at the side above the dugouts and mix with Bulls fans.
Place to park...There are always traffic queues from the M606 Junction and around Rooley Avenue but sometimes it makes sense, if coming from Leeds, to drive past the ground up to Odsal Top and then come back down to park in the Richard Dunne sports centre or the car park below it. The police close the road to allow traffic out after the match but it still takes ages to get out. The Stadium car parks are for pass holders only. Alternatively you can park on the streets off Odsal Top.
Place to eat...Considering Bradford has a very fine array of eateries, Odsal is something of a culinary desert. You're limited somewhat to a chippy on the Odsal Top roundabout, a few burger vans and the fayre inside the ground. That said, they do have a wide array on offer in the stadium - your typical death-by-van burger joints, baked spuds and all stops in between.
Place to drink...It's a similar story if you're after a beer. There's the Top House on the roundabout and precious little else. Inside the ground, there is a large-ish clubhouse where the old scoreboard is and various beer huts around the place. Be prepared to queue wherever you end up.