BULLS chairman Marc Green has called on fans to form Odsal’s biggest crowd of the season in Sunday’s visit of Widnes as a tribute to the club’s departing players.
Club captain Matt Diskin is retiring and Brett Kearney, Luke Gale, Jamie Foster, Manase Manuokafoa, James Donaldson, Sam Wood and Jamal Fakir have all confirmed they are to leave.
Elliot Kear and Luke George also look certain to move on but Green is urging supporters to turn out in force for Bradford’s final home game in the top flight.
Crowds have dipped steadily throughout the season and the 5,188 who witnessed the home defeat to Catalan in June marked the Bulls’ lowest-ever home attendance in Super League.
A season-best of 10,106 saw the visit of Leeds in April but Green said: “I’m hoping for the biggest turn-out of the year on Sunday.
“If it’s not the biggest, then I’m certainly hoping it will be the second-biggest.
“It might be a tall order but I think it’s important that we not only say thanks to the players who have signed up for next season but an even bigger thanks to those who are moving onto pastures new.
“It’s also about paying tribute to all the groundstaff who have worked hard to ensure that all the games have gone ahead through the troubling times.
“Finally, it’s about tipping your hat to a man who has enjoyed an outstanding career and quite simply deserves to be applauded.
“Matt Diskin may have only given four years of his 14-year career to Bradford but it was still a fair chunk of his time in the game and I think he deserves to be applauded.
“Anyone who retires at the end of a career which includes four Super League titles and a World Club Challenge title demonstrates a huge commitment to the game and professionalism.
“Moreover, he has yielded the rewards of his efforts both on and off the field.
“The title of Bradford Bulls captain suited him and was one he wore with pride, honour and justification. He has enjoyed an outstanding career.”
Green is keen that supporters recognise the efforts of the club’s departing stars, adding: “We don’t need to spend time labouring on the turmoil that the club has gone through.
“However, throughout everything the players have turned up and put their bodies on the line, game in and game out with the utmost professionalism.
“For that alone, I want to thank them for their contribution to the club and wish them all the best for wherever their careers take them.
“Furthermore, I really hope that despite any ill feeling people may still have towards me or resentment towards the club for the troubles of yesteryear, the supporters of Bradford Bulls can put all that to one side on Sunday and turn out in the biggest way possible.”
Green said more signings would be announced at next Thursday’s ‘An Evening with the Bulls’ event at Odsal.
He added that he would continue to spend time on the terraces during games after watching the first half of Sunday’s defeat at Castleford from behind the posts with the Bulls fans.
The lifelong Tottenham Hotspur fan added: “At 49 years of age and after 45 years of watching sport in some capacity, I’ve always watched from the terraces and only very rarely have I gone corporate.
“I love the banter, the camaraderie, the comedy and the chanting – it’s a completely different kind of buzz.”