He invited me for a chat about my concerns, so I and a friend went up for a couple of hours. A very nice man, honest and forthright - and held nothing back when asked a question.
Prior to the meeting, I had written to Wigan with regard to their (amazing) crowd stats - on the rise despite losing a lot of games and struggling to stay off the bottom. Their reply was rapid and interesting, without telling me the secret. "Our marketing strategy in not based on results on the field but on other aspects" - hmmm well it certainly worked.
So it was my main point for Peter Hood - how could we turn round the falling attendances? Was he willing to listen and learn from the Wigan model?
His reply at the time was to run the video of the proposed new stadium - which he believed to be the crux of the problem. He thought that crowds would not rise until we had proper facilities.
At the time - I thought it was a big gamble - and a necessary one. But I could not understand why the stadium was the only answer and maybe more backroom work on bringing fans back wouldn't go amiss.
4 years on and as expected - not a chance of a new stadium - which, compared to the current crisis at 1st team level has become almost a secondary issue.
I believe Bulls are now heading toward extinction, caught in the spiral of falling finances related to falling supporter income, based on the performances on the field of play. The people who have now stopped going find other things to do with their time and generally do not go back.
Its harder to recover now than in the sixties as all the standards and requirements for re-birth are higher and the competition is tougher. Also since the sixties (and eighties), the target audience in Bradford has radically changed and diminished.
The dogged determination to stick with McNamara, for me is the biggest error made. As said before - its not the defeats - its the manner and attitude behind them that is the biggest indicator of the team moral.
" Lowlights include getting stuffed at Odsal by Hull in front of a crowd of less than 2,000 during the Barry Seabourne coaching era. Almost managing to lose a Cup tie against Highfield under the dreadful tenure of Aussie coach Ron Willey. The cries of 'Willey Out!' during the game being the only thing that lightened the mood that day. And best (worst) of all, the debut of our £80k RU signing Terry Holmes away at Swinton. He got injured in the first ten minutes and missed the rest of the season, we lost the game 8-0 and went bottom of the league.
But you know what? It wasn't the end of the world."
All fair points - but can you see a light at the end of the current tunnel?
"I recall Wigan being second bottom well into the season a couple of years back.No moans, no groans, and big crowds turning up to back the side, and back the side they did."
Prior to the meeting, I had written to Wigan with regard to their (amazing) crowd stats - on the rise despite losing quite a lot of games and struggling to stay off the bottom. Their reply was rapid and interesting, without telling me the secret. "Our marketing strategy in not based on results on the field but on other aspects" - hmmm well it certainly worked.
More to this than meets the eye - fantastic job done by someone at Wigan - but what fantastic facilities and what a great chairman they now have.
"The crowds will be down again next season as people who have been following the club since the 50's, 60's and 70's turn their back on the club, meaning even less money coming into the club, to spend on players.The players are badly underperforming, showing no effort or determination whatsoever, they don't look interested when out on the field. I can't remember Northern going through such a bad patch. I'm actually ashamed to be wearing the the famous red, amber & black right now, such was the embarrassment that I've just seen. "
Mick cops a lot of criticism - but he remains the most ardent Bulls fan. Which is why his quote above is the most accurate indicator of where we are today and where we will be next season. I personally shredded my season ticket last year after the performance V Warrington (Home) - I just found it too depressing. I would guess another 2000 have followed me since.
Problems Short List
- Cannot attract (high calibre) players
- Cannot attract (high calibre) coaches
- Falling attendances
- Falling income
- 1st team have given up
- Crumbling Stadium consumes the diminishing income
Finally - I have no doubt that Peter Hood will have to move the club to Valley Parade for it to remain in existance, which in itself would have been very difficult with a succcessful team. Now, although he has no choice, it will likely be seen as the final nail in the coffin.
And my final question, You have been the Chairman of Bradford Bulls since January 2006. What would you have done different and what decisions would you have made to resolve our issues?