Bradford Telegraph and ArgusHardest job in the world? Cummins certainly dealt a raw deal during Bradford Bulls reign (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)

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Hardest job in the world? Cummins certainly dealt a raw deal during Bradford Bulls reign

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Francis Cummins surveys the scene at Odsal when he first took over the hot-seat in September 2012 Francis Cummins surveys the scene at Odsal when he first took over the hot-seat in September 2012

WHEN Francis Cummins was unveiled as the new head coach of Bradford in September 2012, it marked the realisation of a long-held ambition.

Having spent the best part of two decades coaching junior teams, including his amateur club Dewsbury Celtic, and then assisting Tony Smith, Brian McClennan and Mick Potter, Cummins was certainly ready for the top job.

Resplendent in a smart grey suit, he looked and sounded the part at his first press conference as Bulls coach in the Coral Stand.

Cummins was handed a three-year contract and tasked with rebuilding the squad after a traumatic season which led to a mass exodus of players.

His recruitment was minimal on a tight budget but Matty Blythe, Ben Evans, Adam Sidlow and Jamie Foster proved shrewd signings and the Bulls began the 2013 season in style.

Cummins, who spent time in Australia visiting leading NRL clubs as part of an RFL coaching bursary in 2011, spoke passionately of his young men “investing in their careers”.

Having previously visited Sir Alex Ferguson, Cummins went to see Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers and visited Leicester Tigers too.

He encouraged his staff and players to meet experts in and outside of rugby league.

He wanted them to be the best they possibly could be and make the most of their opportunities, with Cummins’ own playing career having been cut short by injury at the age of 29.

John Bateman met with Kevin Sinfield, Nick Scruton paid a visit to Olympic great and fellow diabetic Sir Steve Redgrave.

Heading into the round 12 visit of Wigan, Bradford were third in the table.

As the season progressed and injuries bit, however, they won only four more games and ended the campaign outside of the play-offs for the fifth successive year.

There was also a fall-out with Elliott Whitehead which saw the homegrown forward leave midway through the season.

Storm clouds gradually gathered above Odsal as wages started to be paid late.

Omar Khan left the club suddenly in September 2013 and, slowly but surely, things began to unravel off the field, culminating in an utterly shambolic and hugely damaging ownership saga.

Cummins was effectively caught in the middle of it all after being told by a trio of directors who never actually owned the club that he had to make drastic cuts to his backroom staff during pre-season.

After no resolution was found to resolve the Bulls’ ownership, debenture holder and future owner Marc Green put the club into administration on January 31.

Then Cummins’ squad began to fall apart, with Garreth Carvell, Jarrod Sammut and Scruton all jumping ship and the club’s points penalty being confirmed on February 25.

Cummins was forced to beg, steal and borrow players thereafter, with Jamal Fakir his only permanent signing.

Many supporters expected that a club on its knees would be bolstered by several more recruits to aid the fight against relegation.

But none have been forthcoming, only more loan signings, and the lack of depth in Cummins’ squad has been alarming at times.

Four teenagers in Oliver Roberts, Alex Mellor, Nathan Conroy and Sam Bates made up the bench at Wigan on Easter Monday, so it was no real surprise when the champions inflicted a record defeat on the Bulls.

A scathing statement issued by managing director Steve Ferres in the aftermath of that game probably sowed the seeds for Monday’s sacking of Cummins and Lee St Hilaire.

Green appeared to have pinned all his hopes on winning the six points back via the appeal and then hoping the Bulls could scrape enough wins to stay up.

At times this season it has felt as though the club has been sleepwalking towards oblivion.

Or rather the Championship.

There have been some serious pastings, and indeed some seriously below-par displays (Catalan away, Salford away).

But some weeks Cummins barely had seventeen fit senior players to pick from.

Other coaches might have vented their frustration but Cummins never did and always focused on the positives, even when he was struggling to find any.

He remained typically upbeat and often spoke about how one day he would look back and laugh at the troubles he has been forced to endure.

Cummins hoped the loyalty he had shown the club would repay him in the long run.

He worked for three months without pay after being made redundant in 2012, a financial hit from which the 37-year-old and his young family may never truly recover.

It is believed that Cummins turned down the opportunity to become reunited with Smith at Warrington in a first-team coaching capacity because he wanted to see the job through at Bradford.

Smith turned to Richard Agar instead, and Cummins ended up being sacked this week.

The timing of his dismissal seemed strange to say the least.

By Cummins’ own admission, Sunday’s display at Salford was “pathetic” but can anybody realistically come in to save the Bulls now?

With only 11 games remaining, it would take a miracle worker to conjure the numbers of wins needed to overhaul Wakefield.

John Kear is known as the ‘Miracle Man’ after he saved Wakefield from the drop in 2006 but the Bulls seem in no rush to appoint him.

Or anybody for that matter.

There is every chance Matt Diskin, who was fiercely opposed to Cummins’ sacking, will still be in temporary charge for next weekend’s trip to Warrington.

Although Cummins did not see eye to eye with Whitehead, he was popular, well liked and highly respected by his players.

He was a man of principle, of loyalty and of dignity.

There is no doubt he will back in the game soon enough because rugby league is in his blood.

His reputation remains intact and possibly even enhanced.

Cummins was a victim of circumstance at Bradford and in many ways paid for the failings of others off the field.

How might he have fared without having to deal with one crisis after another?

We will never know.

For now, rugby league, collectively, should wish Cummins and St Hilaire well.

Comments (8)

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11:21am Thu 19 Jun 14

Shaggoth says...

Although I agree completely with the decision to sack them, I do wish them both well. I have admired the way they have conducted themselves and the dignity they've shown.

I was shocked by Green having to ask people to stop abusing our departed coaches on social media. It takes a real lack of class to lay the boot in like that.
Although I agree completely with the decision to sack them, I do wish them both well. I have admired the way they have conducted themselves and the dignity they've shown. I was shocked by Green having to ask people to stop abusing our departed coaches on social media. It takes a real lack of class to lay the boot in like that. Shaggoth
  • Score: 10

11:42am Thu 19 Jun 14

monobrow man says...

As I have said before, not 1 player has in my opinion improved under his coaching. I am not saying he had a great set of players or didn't have lots to deal with but a good coach should make a player better
As I have said before, not 1 player has in my opinion improved under his coaching. I am not saying he had a great set of players or didn't have lots to deal with but a good coach should make a player better monobrow man
  • Score: 2

12:23pm Thu 19 Jun 14

JunctionBull says...

FC has shown grit determination and dignity throughout. He had no squad and managed to bimble his way through the season. The only thing he didnt have was results and unfortunately only results will do as we fight to stay in super league. Perhaps the pressure finally got to him. The report said that he had the support of the team, I think that towards the end this is questionable. There was no committment at all. I think that it is clear that Foster, for one, had fallen out of favour. As fans we owe him a debt of grattitude in that he kept a team. When Carvell left others could have done so using the same get out. The majority of players stayed, why? I would guess that FC had a major part in this and demonstrates the regarrd that he was held. He was dammed, if he had quit he would have been berated, he stayed and in some quarters abused. I for one thank FC for all that he did.

The same cannot be said for St Hilaire. For years our defence has leaked like a sieve. Had we been able to tackle and had a defensive strategy we may not be in the mess that we are in in the league. Clueless
FC has shown grit determination and dignity throughout. He had no squad and managed to bimble his way through the season. The only thing he didnt have was results and unfortunately only results will do as we fight to stay in super league. Perhaps the pressure finally got to him. The report said that he had the support of the team, I think that towards the end this is questionable. There was no committment at all. I think that it is clear that Foster, for one, had fallen out of favour. As fans we owe him a debt of grattitude in that he kept a team. When Carvell left others could have done so using the same get out. The majority of players stayed, why? I would guess that FC had a major part in this and demonstrates the regarrd that he was held. He was dammed, if he had quit he would have been berated, he stayed and in some quarters abused. I for one thank FC for all that he did. The same cannot be said for St Hilaire. For years our defence has leaked like a sieve. Had we been able to tackle and had a defensive strategy we may not be in the mess that we are in in the league. Clueless JunctionBull
  • Score: 15

12:46pm Thu 19 Jun 14

axelf1963 says...

FC showed some desire and fight which is just a shame some of the players did not show the same.
FC showed some desire and fight which is just a shame some of the players did not show the same. axelf1963
  • Score: 6

1:25pm Thu 19 Jun 14

bradfordbronco says...

It was an difficult job, but we weren't asking him to win things. We just wanted an improvement and the team to play to their potential.

He deserved to be given time but things weren't improving and in the end I would have swapped our coaches with any other club in the SL or Championship. I don't think any other club would have swapped with which to me sums it all up
It was an difficult job, but we weren't asking him to win things. We just wanted an improvement and the team to play to their potential. He deserved to be given time but things weren't improving and in the end I would have swapped our coaches with any other club in the SL or Championship. I don't think any other club would have swapped with which to me sums it all up bradfordbronco
  • Score: 3

3:26pm Thu 19 Jun 14

portugalbull says...

I have every sympathy for FC with the trial and tribulations he had to go through, however our defence in his time has gone from bad to worse. The lack of squad size didn't help. I warned earlier in the season that if he didn't do anything and replace St Hilaire it would cost his job. I would have liked to see him have got experienced assistance but neither happened hence he suffered the loss of his job. In sport where it is result driven that happens and only in few instances can anyone quote longevity. I wish him well and hope a new position is found where he finds success.
I have every sympathy for FC with the trial and tribulations he had to go through, however our defence in his time has gone from bad to worse. The lack of squad size didn't help. I warned earlier in the season that if he didn't do anything and replace St Hilaire it would cost his job. I would have liked to see him have got experienced assistance but neither happened hence he suffered the loss of his job. In sport where it is result driven that happens and only in few instances can anyone quote longevity. I wish him well and hope a new position is found where he finds success. portugalbull
  • Score: 2

4:26pm Thu 19 Jun 14

nosher says...

I would suspect that fc, s pride and confidence has taken a battering. But it has given him the change to walk away from this disaster.
I would suspect that fc, s pride and confidence has taken a battering. But it has given him the change to walk away from this disaster. nosher
  • Score: 1

8:40pm Thu 19 Jun 14

fedupwiththeBS says...

I would like to see any Coach put up with what FC has had to endue and end up with the Club not being in the position we are today.

No investment, begging for players, 17 fit players you would think it was an amateur club not the ex world champions.
I would like to see any Coach put up with what FC has had to endue and end up with the Club not being in the position we are today. No investment, begging for players, 17 fit players you would think it was an amateur club not the ex world champions. fedupwiththeBS
  • Score: 3

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