Bradford amateurs West Bowling set for unique double-header involving Challenge Cup tie

BRADFORD community club West Bowling are preparing to kick-off this season’s Challenge Cup on Saturday – and give the ground staff at their Horsfall Stadium base a busy few hours.

For, in an unusual double-header, they will take on fellow National Conference League club Waterhead Warriors at 11am, with the venue to the south of the city centre then staging the National League North football match between Bradford Park Avenue and Leamington at 3pm.

Avenue have played at Horsfall, which also hosts Airedale Athletics Club and has an artificial pitch, since 1994, while West Bowling left Emsley Recreation Ground, two miles away, for the 3,500-capacity council-owned stadium in 2021, and have a long-term agreement to use it, with both clubs working to enhance the facilities.

Their Challenge Cup tie will be the first of 18 opening-round matches spread over Saturday and Sunday, with the Edinburgh Eagles versus Saddleworth Rangers clash, to be screened live on BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport, following at 1.15pm.

“We investigated a few options, including playing on Friday evening or Sunday, and spoke to Waterhead, who went for the Saturday-morning slot,” explained West Bowling chairman Michael Gorman.

“We’ve had a double-header of two Rugby League matches before, but we’ve not played on the same day as Avenue.

“There are a few logistical considerations, but there are plenty of changing rooms at the stadium and two bars, so there are no difficulties on that front.

“And with the pitch being artificial, there are no concerns over it cutting up before the football.

“It’s marked out for both sports, and the ground staff are pretty slick at changing the posts.”

The tie marks the first match for the NCL Division One club’s new coach Dean Muir, who is an assistant to Rhys Lovegrove at Keighley Cougars and has succeeded Ryan Hunkin, who has become head of youth at Bradford Bulls.

“It’s great to be playing in the Challenge Cup again after getting to the third round in 2020 and giving Workington a good test at their place (Town won 28-22),” added Gorman.

“We’d love to do something similar, although it will be tough against Waterhead, who are a good side and, unlike us, have already played a game, getting a good win against Sharlston Rovers (52-0 in round one of the BARLA National Cup).