It will take a mighty effort for Bradford Bulls to stay up, says former boss Mick Potter

Mick Potter worked without pay during the Bulls’ last administration but was cheered by the support of the club’s staff and supporters

Mick Potter worked without pay during the Bulls’ last administration but was cheered by the support of the club’s staff and supporters

First published in Sport Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , Bradford Bulls Reporter

After a difficult debut campaign at Odsal, 2012 was supposed to be a season of steady progress for Mick Potter and the Bulls.

The Australian raided the NRL for Keith Lulia, Adrian Purtell and Manase Manuokafoa.

Luke Gale arrived from London, Jarrod Sammut and Elliot Kear joined from Crusaders and the acquisition of Karl Pryce and Phil Joseph gave Potter a squad of 34 players.

Peter Hood talked of fighting for a top-four finish.

By the end of the season, the Bulls had suffered a financial meltdown, been docked six points for entering administration and seen their entire coaching staff made redundant.

Potter and his wife Megan left the Bulls at the end of that campaign and returned home to Australia, where the 50-year-old is now in his second season in charge of Wests Tigers.

“Yes, 2012 was going to be the year that we started to climb the ladder and move forward,” recalled Potter.

“The subsequent fall into administration and points deduction put a big dent in that.

“I just remember the disappointment in the whole situation and a feeling of a push from outside influences that really made it so.

“I was led to believe that financially the club was moving forward – now I don’t really know and probably won’t ever know.”

There were plenty of highlights during the most turbulent period in the club’s history since their reformation under the legendary Trevor Foster in 1964.

Supporters rallied round in remarkable fashion, helping to raise £500,000 during the Quest for Survival campaign.

The players did their bit too, washing cars to raise money and performing on the field against a backdrop of constant uncertainty.

There was a memorable win over Leeds at Odsal on Good Friday and who could ever forget that incredible victory at Wigan?

“The highlight of that year for me was the grit of the players to do whatever it took to show our fans they were a good footy team,” said Potter.

“They did this under extremely trying circumstances and I will never forget the desire the fans showed to do whatever it took to keep the Bulls alive.

“That love and that passion for their club stood out for me and you could see the bond between the players and supporters the night we won at Wigan. That was a real highlight.”

But there were more than a few lowlights, not least the day that administrator Brendan Guilfoyle told Potter, his coaching team and key staff such as Ryan Duckett they were being made redundant on July 2.

Remarkably, Potter and his staff made the decision to work without pay for the rest of the season, earning them legendary status.

He explained: “The support of the fans, players and the existing staff made the decision to stay easier as you could see their passion and dismay at possibly losing a club with such a great history.

“I just wanted to help prevent that loss and I feel I played my part.”

After the uncertainty surrounding the club’s ownership was ended by Omar Khan’s takeover in early September, Potter had already decided to head home.

He said: “I made the decision to go back about two weeks before the last match. We were still in a changeover period and there was no set direction at that stage.”

Following a recommendation from Potter, Francis Cummins was appointed as his successor on a three-year deal.

Potter has regular contact with his former assistant but is saddened the Bulls have found themselves back in administration and docked six points again.

He said: “I still follow the fortunes of the Bulls. It’s clearly still a tough period for the whole club.

“I speak to Franny and have had some correspondence with a couple of players and staff too.

“This season is going to be tough because they have a small squad and, with the points deduction, doing the maths means it will be a lean year.

“Whenever you get a deduction of points the football department suffers, which has little to do with the actual business. But you are at the mercy of your board and how they manage.

“It’s unfortunate and it looks like the Bulls will be in the firing line for relegation.

“It’s not impossible but it will be a mighty effort to stay up. I still know a few people there and they will give it their best shot to prevent relegation.”

After his Wests side finished second-bottom last season, Potter is aiming for an improvement this term, having signed Lulia and Pat Richards, among others.

Wests lost their opening game to St George but Potter said: “We have had a good pre-season and I’m very optimistic with the new players and staff we’ve brought in.

“I settled back in Australia quickly after moving back. I’m enjoying it and can get through the winters much easier here.”

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