GIVEN their well-documented travails over the last decade or so, Bradford Bulls fans are wise enough not not to get too carried away with signs of positivity.
It has been painful in the past, belief that the once great club would be on its way back only to be felled by yet another regime’s financial mismanagement.
Three administrations in five years and a fall from World Club champions to League 1 tell its own story.
Yet, for the first time in a while, there does seem like a genuine ‘feelgood’ factor building around Odsal once more.
Perhaps with the effusive head coach John Kear surprisingly taking over at the helm this season – following relegation from the Championship – it was always likely to happen.
Nevertheless, operating in the part-time third-tier against the likes of Hemel Stags and Newcastle Thunder could still have been nightmarish for all involved.
Instead, though, getting back to basics seems to have brought a cleansing process for the West Yorkshire club and its fans; they come along in great numbers still and are actually enjoying following their rugby again.
Kear, 63, told The Yorkshire Post: “There is a feelgood factor.
“You’ve only got to look at how many season tickets we sold which was fantastic for a League 1 club.
“I think we sold as many (2,665) as the rest of the competition together.
“That was an indication of what is going on here. We’re playing OK and more and more people are getting attracted to it; on Good Friday I think we had a bigger attendance than a couple of Super League games.”
Bradford sit joint-top of League 1 with five wins from their opening six games while the loan signing of Castleford Tigers’ Jy Hitchcox and former Warrington Warrington star James Laithwaite from Toronto Wolfpack last week shows they are still an attractive employer.
Clearly, some people still doubt the intentions of Andrew Chalmers, the New Zealander who brought them out of their last administration at the start of last year.
But Kear – who left his role in Super League as Wakefield Trinity head of rugby to move to Odsal – insisted: “Before I took the job I met Andrew Chalmers four or five times.
“Each time he impressed me more and more.
“There’s no doubt he’s very frugal but I think the problems of yesteryear are just that – in the past.
“I think this is now a club that is self-sufficient in many ways and I can just see us building and building here.
“Of course, it’s okay having potential. You then have to fulfil that potential.
“But people are in place making the right decisions here, decisions that won’t over-extend the club’s finances but ones that will still allow us to build.
“Bradford is still attractive for players and that’s, firstly, because of the name’s reputation and brand but also, another thing that attracts them, is the training facility.
“It is absolutely fantastic; the set-up at Tong is Super League standard and when people see that straight away they are blown away.
“They’re good people to work with here. We’re working very hard and have had some good results. We had a hiccup losing (17-16) at Workington the other week but every team has one of those at some stage. I feel we’ve made a lot of progress and a decent squad to help us with the task in hand – getting promotion and having as good a run as we can in the Challenge Cup.”
The Ladbrokes Challenge Cup. A competition synonymous with Kear following his exploits with both Sheffield Eagles – 20 years ago next month – and Hull FC.
The coach’s famous history in the competition is one reason some people fancy them to perhaps cause a shock when they head to Warrington Wolves for Saturday’s fifth round tie.
“It’s not so much about the coach but the players and I know we’ve got a good team here,” he insisted.
“I know full well we’re coming up against a very, very good team – the form team in Super League –and that we’re big underdogs.
“But we can go there and have a free hit. The players see it as a great opportunity; they don’t see it as something to be frightened of.”
Kear certainly has some quality former Super League players at his disposal such as Dane Chisholm, Ashley Gibson, Lee Smith, Joe Keyes and Steve Crossley as well as some exciting young local talent. Granted, Warrington have won their last six games but – as more people are realising – they certainly will be wary of the potential of this Bulls side.
Huddersfield playmaker Danny Brough has been given a three-match ban and fined £500 after admitting to verbally abusing a touch judge.
The veteran Giants stand-off was sent off by referee James Child five minutes from the end of his side’s 30-12 Betfred Super League defeat by Salford on Sunday for using aggressive language when disputing a decision.
Brough will begin his suspension when Huddersfield visit leaders St Helens on Friday night and also miss his club’s trip to Warrington a week later and at home to Widnes on May 4.