Bradford head to Spotland on Sunday as Hornets face another 'Battle with the Cattle'. Much like Bradford held an emotional farewell to the Odsal Crater last weekend, Hornets fans will be bracing themselves for an equally emotional adieu to the Championship after a challenging three year stay. Doubt there'll be a pitch invasion, though - most fans likely to head home and lie down in a dark room until March.
As for Bradford, we've written at some length here about how the Bulls have been a bit of a basket case in recent years, so we don't really want to pick that scab again. But they can be a hard club to like. Indeed, we don't often go Biblical on our opponents, but on this occasion we're happy to heavily paraphrase Matthew Ch7 V4.
The quote roughly states: "Don't go on about a speck of dust in someone else's eye when you've got a plank in your own eye." This moral lesson in avoiding hypocrisy and self-righteousness could have been written for Bulls owner Andrew Chalmers - a man with a seemingly bottomless well of opinions on how other clubs should be run - but whose own club finds itself ending the season homeless and out of the playoffs.
1. In January this year he called for Wigan Chairman Ian Lenagan to resign as Wigan were deducted two points and fined £5,000 for a two-year-old salary cap breach. “The average man in the street might conclude its either wilful dishonesty, or at the very least, sheer incompetence. ... He should now do the honourable thing and resign... I suspect there will be little sympathy around the rugby league for Lenagan’s plight."
2. In August last year he called Workington Town "... amateur and completely selfish, amongst other things..." when they refused to allow Bradford to stream their game at Derwent Park.
3. In April he aimed barbs at Toronto: “The club and our fans are travelling intercontinental to play an away fixture with all the challenges that presents, whereas some of our rivals will not be similarly tested, with Toronto choosing to play some of their home fixtures in the UK. This can’t be right from a competition integrity perspective?"
4. ... and also at the Catalans: "Catalans Dragons privileged position sucks millions of pounds out of the British game – for what? A sunshine weekend away for supporters to fill the coffers of the Perpignan’s hoteliers and restaurateurs? Hardly looks like smart business from a British Rugby League perspective..."
5. Back in January he took aim at the smaller clubs in the Championship "... the Bulls are seen as a big club by others in the league... but clubs playing in front of the low hundreds, bringing no away support and little profile won’t have a future in the professional ranks..."
Given the speed at which he's prepared to criticise others, perhaps Chalmers needs to consider his own failings this year.
1. He has failed to deliver on the field: having said in February that the top three was the Bulls' target for 2019, they failed to make the top five.
2. The RFL last week confirmed that Bradford remain in special measures, which prevents them from making signings - including renewing contracts - for next year.
3. In December 2018, Chalmers said "... our club and Odsal stadium are inextricably linked in a truly deep, emotional and maybe a spiritual way. The Maori have a word to describe this – turangawaewae... our foundation, our place in the world, our home, where we belong...".
Eight months later it was announced that Chalmers would move his side to the Tetley Stadium Dewsbury in order to reduce costs. Aaron Bower's article in the Guardian said: "Stadium staff will lose their jobs, local businesses who thrive on matchday revenue will struggle. Bradford, not just the Bulls, will feel this decision."
In a statement, the RFL said: “The RFL Board feel that the information provided so far in relation to (Bradford's) move to Dewsbury is incomplete and therefore it is a condition that the club provide further financial information on the impact of the move. Until this is provided to the satisfaction of the RFL the Club will remain in special measures and is not permitted to sign players.”
The statement continued: “Based on the information received, the RFL feel that this decision made by the Bradford Bulls directors is a poor one; however ultimately the Board of that club is responsible for determining what is in the best interests of Bradford Bulls." Ouch!
Hornets stagger into Sunday's game on the back of two dismal nillings: 46-nil at Toronto and 58-nil at Halifax. That's 104-nil over two games. As such, all the loyal, long-suffering Hornets fans would like to see is for our team to end this wretched season by chucking the ball about and putting a few points on the scoreboard. As the game is yet another dead rubber, there's absolutely nothing to lose.
Just 80 minutes of this season remain. See you hardy souls on Sunday,