Radford can see similarities between Hull and iconic Bradford sides

Although the accent firmly gives away the place of his birth, if you think of Lee Radford’s playing career and his biggest success, it undoubtedly came further down the M62 at Bradford.

After starting his career at Hull, Radford left for Odsal in 1998 and enjoyed phenomenal success, most notably playing in the side who won the treble under Brian Noble in 2003.

And now, as he aims to lift his first piece of major silverware as a coach this weekend, Radford admits he sees aspects of the all-conquering Bulls side of the early 2000s in this Hull side – who could also finish the year with a treble of their own in 2016.

“I didn’t specifically go out to try and build the same type of team to what we had at Bradford when I was a player,” Radford said in the build-up to this weekend’s final.

“But I was very appreciative of the way we played, particularly in the outside backs. In Tevita Vaikona and Lesley Vainikolo we had some great blokes out of the backfield. I sometimes stood on the halfway line and watched them break the ball back to me.

“We are not far off achieving something similar in Mahe Fonua and Fetuli Talanoa. I was very respectful of having those big outside backs when I played at Bradford.”

Radford was also quick to praise the man who oversaw that success at Bradford: a man he still looks up to today, the former Bulls coach Brian Noble.

“Brian Noble has no doubt had an influence on me as a player and some aspects of my coaching. He was unbelievably successful during that period at the Bulls,” he said.

“You pick up things from each coach you’ve been under whether it’s good or bad. Nobby was good for me as a player and I stay in touch with him regularly still as well. There’s no coincidence he had the success he did as a coach.”

And as he prepares to lead Hull into battle in a major final this weekend, Radford also took time to reflect on what many considered to be the Black and Whites’ darkest day this year: that comprehensive defeat to Widnes way back at the start of the season.

That night saw Radford infamously reveal he and his coaching staff had been kicked out of the dressing room by the playing staff – and looking back, Radford insists he can see why it happened, and the positive impact it has had on his squad since then.


“Widnes was a left-fielder because we could have been 24-0 up after 20 minutes. After that what went wrong, went wrong for us.

“That was a shock but the response I got from the players that night and the week after leading up to the Wakefield game was huge. The performance against Wakefield was exactly what we needed at that time.

“I was going to the press anyway. The last thing you want as a player is a protein shake when you’re telling your team-mate he’s ****. Or your kit-man ragging your shirt off another bloke and you’re trying to tell him he’s terrible.

“I can understand why they asked them to get out. They wanted a bit of privacy and I wasn’t going to be there anyway.

“I did think the seniors were going to sort it out. The leadership group we’ve got is great and get together once a week anyway and if there are any issues if filters through back and forth and that’s a good working relationship.”

And if Hull emerge victorious on Saturday afternoon, the only dressing-room tale the media will be reporting on is one huge Black and White party.