Odsal Stadium

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Odsal Stadium
Wembley of the North[1]
Grattan Stadium - Rooley Avenue - geograph.org.uk - 397320.jpg
Full name Provident Stadium
Former names Odsal Stadium (1933–2006, 2010–2012),
Grattan plc Stadium-Odsal (2006–10)
Location Provident Stadium, Odsal, Bradford, BD6 1BS
Coordinates 53°45′54″N 1°45′25″W / 53.76500°N 1.75694°W / 53.76500; -1.75694Coordinates: 53°45′54″N 1°45′25″W / 53.76500°N 1.75694°W / 53.76500; -1.75694
Owner Rugby Football League
Operator Bradford Bulls
Capacity 27,491[2]
Field size 67.79m x 111.74m
Surface Grass
Construction
Broke ground 1933
Opened 1934
Renovated 1964, 1985, 2001–02.
Tenants
Bradford Northern/Bulls (1934–2001, 2003–present),
Bradford City A.F.C (1985–86),
Bradford Dukes (1945–1960, 1986–1997)

Odsal Stadium, also known as Provident Stadium for sponsorship reasons, is a sports stadium in Odsal, Bradford, West Yorkshire. It has been home to BradfordRugby League club since opening in 1934 and was previously home to the speedway team Bradford Dukes, as well the football team Bradford City following the Valley Parade fire. Odsal has also been a venue for baseball, basketball, kabbadi, show jumping, tennis, live music and international Rugby League.

The stadium holds the British attendance records for a Rugby League match, 102,569 in 1954 at the Warrington-Halifax Challenge Cup final replay,[3] and for a domestic, non-final Rugby League match, 69,429 at the third round Challenge Cup tie between Bradford Northern and Huddersfield in 1953. While its capacity has reduced significantly, it remains the largest stadium in the Super League.[citation needed] The stadium is currently owned by the Rugby Football League who purchased it in 2012.

Present use[edit]

The stadium is used primarily as the home of Bradford Bulls Rugby League team. The current official capacity of the stadium is 26,019,[4] with the highest recorded attendance of the Super League era being 24,020 against neighbouring rivals Leeds Rhinos on 3 September 1999.[citation needed]

History[edit]

Rugby League[edit]

Formed in 1907, the Bradford Northern club had played at a number of venues including the Greenfield Athletic Ground in Dudley Hill and Bowling Old Lane Cricket Club's ground in Birch Lane.[5] By the early 1920s, however, Birch Lane's limitations were clear and Northern began to seek another home. Precarious finances prevented the club being able to take up an offer to develop land off Rooley Lane or to upgrade and move back to Greenfield, but in 1933, Bradford City Council gave them the opportunity to transform land at Odsal Top into their home ground. On 20 June 1933 the club therefore signed a ten-year deal on the site, which was to become the biggest stadium in England outside Wembley.[6]

The site was a former quarry which was then being used as a landfill tip. Ernest Call M.B.E., the Director of Cleansing for Bradford City Council devised a system of controlled tipping that saw 140,000 cart loads of household waste deposited to form the characteristic banking at Odsal. The club were to be responsible for boundary fencing, dressing rooms and seated accommodation.

To be able to turf the pitch, and other areas, a turf fund was put into place which raised a total of £900 to cover the work. A stand was erected at the cost of £2,000, which was paid by the Rugby Football League. It held 1,500 on a mixture of benches and tip-up seats.

The ground was officially opened by Sir Joseph Taylor, President of Huddersfield on 1 September 1934. His club went on to beat the hosts 31–16, Australian winger Ray Markham scoring four tries in front of an estimated 20,000.[7] The clubhouse and dressing rooms were officially opened before a match against Hull on 2 February 1935. Contemporary pictures show that as late as August 1935 the banking on the Rooley Avenue side was still being created.[6]

During the Second World War, the lower floor of the clubhouse was also used as an Air Raid Precautions centre, and one of the dressing rooms was the map room.[8] On 20 December 1947, the largest ever attendance for an international test at Odsal was set when 42,685 saw England defeated New Zealand 25–9. The first floodlit rugby match in the North of England was held at Odsal in 1951.[citation needed] In September 1951, Council Engineer Ernest Wardley drew up a plan for a 92,000 capacity 'European' style stadium, at a cost of £250,000.[9] Eventually £50,000 was spent on terracing the Rooley Avenue end in 1964, before the Wardley plan was officially dropped the following year.[9]

The second test of the 1978 Ashes series was played at Odsal, with Great Britain defeating Australia before a crowd of 26,761. The Lions team that day featured what was called a "Dad's Army" front row with Jim Mills, Tony Fisher and Brian Lockwood all being over the age of 30.

The ground's clubhouse had to be refurbished when it was condemned in the mid-1980s. The social facilities were also upgraded at the same time.

Following the Valley Parade fire disaster of 1985, Bradford City played a handful of games at Leeds Road, Huddersfield and Elland Road, Leeds, even though Odsal was the obvious venue for the Bantams whilst the future of Valley Parade was decided.[not specific enough to verify] On 23 September 1985, a Football League delegation visited Odsal to view the stadium to pass it fit to host City's home games. Segregation fences were erected on the old Main Stand side and 1,000 uncovered seats were bolted onto the terracing – it was planned to install 7,000 in the future. Meanwhile a further £1 million was spent to conform with new safety standards – bringing the total spent on Odsal to £3.5 million. New boundary walls, turnstiles, exit gates, a bus layby in Rooley Avenue and access road were added. Odsal played host to Bradford City's Division Two home games until December 1986. Odsal Stadium also held a modern day attendance record for almost six years.[clarification needed]

Like most British stadia, Odsal had its capacity substantially reduced by the safety measures introduced in the 1990s following the Hillsborough disaster and the findings of the Taylor Report.

Speedway[edit]

The rugby pitch at Odsal Stadium is surrounded by a 357 metres (390 yd) speedway track which was used mostly for Motorcycle speedway, though the stadium also hosted stock car racing.

In 1945, speedway began in Bradford with the Odsal Boomerangs. The name Boomerangs was a pointer to the sport of motorcycle speedway having its origins in Australia during the 1920s. In the post-World War II years, speedway proved extremely popular with crowds of over 20,000 regularly attending meetings at Odsal, with the 1946 average for the first year of the National League after the war. The highest speedway attendance during this period came on 5 July 1947 when 47,050 fans saw England defeated Australia 65-43 in a Test match. This remains the largest ever speedway crowd for Odsal Stadium.

After finishing at the bottom of the National League in 1948 and 1949, the Boomerangs folded and were replaced in 1950 by the Odsal Tudors. Despite the name change, fortunes remained the same with the Tudors finishing on the bottom of the NL ladder in 1951. In 1959 the Tudors dropped the Odsal name and were renamed the Bradford Tudors. The most famous of the Tudors riders was English star Nigel Boocock who rode for the team from 1955-1957.

In 1960, the Bradford Tudors renamed themselves the Bradford Panthers. After a disastrous 1960 season, the Panthers left Odsal and in 1961 moved across town to the Greenfield Stadium, better known for Greyhound racing. After the Panthers folded in 1962, Motorcycle Speedway would not return to Bradford for another 10 years.

The sound of speedway bikes was heard once again at Odsal when promoters Les Whaley, Mike Parker and Bill Bridgett moved the British League Division Two side Nelson Admirals across the Pennines for the final eleven league meetings of the 1970 season. The Admirals became Bradford Northern like their rugby league landlords and even adopted their red, black and amber colours, though the move was met with opposition from the nearby Halifax Dukes. Northern would finish second in Div.II in 1971, but from there results and attendances steadily declined and again, a Bradford speedway team folded after 1973.

Speedway wasn't lost to Bradford, or Odsal though as from the Bradford Barons were formed, but they were also short lived and only lasted the years 1974 and 1975. Speedway would once again not return to Bradford for another 10 years.

Speedway returned to Odsal in 1985 after a ten-year absence when it was selected by the FIM to host the 1985 World Final, the first time the Final in England would not be held at Wembley Stadium. The capacity crowd of over 35,000 fans saw a titanic fight between Denmark's defending World Champion Erik Gundersen, his fellow countryman Hans Nielsen, and American rider Sam Ermolenko. The trio all finished the meeting on 13 points each which saw a three-way runoff for the top 3 placings with Gundersen winning from Nielsen and Ermolenko. Just a month prior to the World Final, Odsal also hosted the Overseas Final as part of the World Final qualifications. That meeting saw two riders finish at the top on 14 points, American Shawn Moran and English favourite, Halifax Dukes rider Kenny Carter. Moran would defeat Carter in the runoff for the Overseas title.

In March 1986, Odsal opened its doors to British League action for the first time since the 1950s after the Halifax Dukes were offered a new home track. The new 'Bradford Dukes' team would in later years include 1985 World Champion Gary Havelock, multi-British Champion and triple Long Track World Champion Simon Wigg, Kelvin Tatum, Mark Loram, and dual Australian Champion Glenn Doyle. However, the club suffered the tragic loss of Kenny Carter who died in murder/suicide after shooting his wife and then himself at their home in May 1986.

Odsal Stadium hosted its second World Final in 1990. Swedish rider Per Jonsson won his only World Championship when he defeated Shawn Moran in a runoff after both had finished the meeting on 13 points. Moran was later stripped of his silver medal by the FIM after he had tested positive to a drug test taken three months earlier at the Overseas Final in Coventry. Moran claimed that the drug he took was a pain killer prescribed by a doctor in Sweden, but the FIM stood firm. They also did not upgrade the standings and the official records show no second place rider. Young Australian rider Todd Wiltshire riding in his first World Final surprised many by finishing in third place with 12 points.

From 1987, Bradford speedway then enjoyed its greatest period of success, winning eight trophies until the club's closure in 1997 when despite winning the Elite League, the club folded for the third time.

Odsal Stadium hosted the 1997 Speedway Grand Prix of Great Britain. Danish rider Brian Andersen won the Grand Prix from America's reigning World Champion Billy Hamill, with Swede Jimmy Nilsen finishing third in the Final. Bradford Dukes rider Mark Loram finished 4th in the Final. Loram would later go on to be the 2000 World Champion after winning the Speedway Grand Prix series that year.

With the building of the hospitality suites located on what was turns 3 and 4 of the speedway track, Speedway ended its 52 year association with Odsal Stadium.

Speedway World Finals[edit]

Individual World Championship[edit]
World Pairs Championship[edit]
World Team Cup[edit]

* Odsal hosted the third of 3 rounds in the Final.

Speedway Grand Prix[edit]

Structure and facilities[edit]

The Stadium seen from Rooley Avenue showing how street level is higher than the stadium.

The pitch as Odsal has a distinctive concave contour, with the corners of the pitch behind the try-line noticeably sloping up towards the stands. This was due to the stadium being used to host speedway events and so the corners of the pitch were removable to allow full use of the track. With the end of speedway at Odsal, the upturned corners are no longer as pronounced as they once were.

Attendances[edit]

Average attendances since 1996[edit]

  • 1996 – 10,346
  • 1997 – 15,159
  • 1998 – 13,022
  • 1999 – 13,212
  • 2000 – 14,520
  • 2001 – under redevelopment
  • 2002 – under redevelopment
  • 2003 – 14,939
  • 2004 – 13,495
  • 2005 – 12,786
  • 2006 – 11,406
  • 2007 – 12,084
  • 2008 – 10,435
  • 2009 – 9,676
  • 2010 – 8,891
  • 2011 – 13,351

Overall home advantages 1996–2000, 2003–present[edit]

Team Pld W D L PF PA PD Pts
Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 187 130 5 52 5979 3678 +2301 268

Rugby League Test matches[edit]

List of rugby league test matches played at Odsal Stadium.[10]

Test# Date Result Attendance
1 23 December 1939 Wales def. England 7–6 8,637
1 23 December 1939 Wales def. England 16–3 15,257
2 18 October 1941 England drew with Wales 9–9 4,339
3 20 December 1947 England def. New Zealand 25–9 42,685
4 29 January 1949 Great Britain def. Australia 23–9 36,294
5 6 October 1951 Great Britain def. New Zealand 21–15 37,475
6 7 December 1951 New Zealand def. Wales 15–3 8,568
7 13 December 1952 Australia def. Great Britain 27–7 30,509
8 7 November 1953 England def. France 7–5 10,659
9 12 November 1955 Great Britain def. New Zealand 27–12 24,443
10 11 April 1956 Great Britain def. France 18–10 10,453
11 1 December 1956 Australia def. Great Britain 22–9 23,634
12 21 October 1961 Great Britain def. New Zealand 23–10 19,980
13 23 October 1965 Great Britain def. New Zealand 15–9 15,849
14 2 March 1968 Great Britain def. France 19–8 14,196
15 2 March 1972 Great Britain def. France 45–10 7,313
16 5 November 1978 Great Britain def. Australia 18–14 26,761
17 2 November 1980 New Zealand def. Great Britain 12–8 10,946
18 2 November 2003 England def. Russia 102–0 1,376

Rugby League World Cup[edit]

List of Rugby League World Cup matches played at Odsal Stadium.
Results are from the 1960, 1970 and 1975 World Cups.

WC
Game#
Date Result Attendance
1 24 September 1960 Great Britain def. New Zealand 23–8 20,577
2 8 October 1960 Great Britain def. Australia 10–3 32,773
3 1 November 1970 France def. Australia 17–15 6,654
4 25 November 1975 England def. New Zealand 27–12 5,507

Odsal attendance records[edit]

Odsal record

Super League record

Test match record

World Cup record

  • 32,773 – Great Britain vs. Australia, 8 October 1960

Speedway Record

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gibbons, Trevor (25 January 2012). "Bradford Bulls' Odsal Stadium 'takes breath away'". BBC. Retrieved 14 April 2013. 
  2. ^ "Ground Guide – The Provident Stadium'". Retrieved 30 August 2013. 
  3. ^ Delaney 1991, p. 48.
  4. ^ Laybourn, Ian (27 January 2012). "Stobart Super League 2012 club-by-club guide". Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 13 April 2013. 
  5. ^ Delaney 1991, pp. 44–45.
  6. ^ a b Delaney 1991, p. 45.
  7. ^ Delaney 1991, p. 45-46.
  8. ^ Delaney 1991, pp. 46.
  9. ^ a b "Odsal". bantamspast. The Bradford City Football Club Museum. Retrieved 9 May 2014. 
  10. ^ Odsal Stadium @ Rugby League Project

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]