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Odsal legend Paul Deacon keeping his fingers crossed for Bradford Bulls
Paul Deacon is praying the Bulls can survive the looming threat of liquidation as he prepares to cross swords with his former club tomorrow night.
Deacon played in all five of the Bulls’ consecutive Super League Grand Finals earlier this decade, picking up the Harry Sunderland Trophy as man of the match in 2002.
A three-time Super League champion, three-time World Club champion and two-time Challenge Cup winner, he celebrated his testimonial at Odsal in 2008.
He is now coaching Wigan’s Under-18s and assisting first-team boss Shaun Wane as the table-topping Warriors aim to register a 14th straight win tomorrow night.
Yet Wigan-born Deacon, 33, said: “Bradford is a club that remains very close to my heart. Not just because we had a successful team but because I loved my time at the club.
“I sort of grew up at the Bulls and even if I’d not won as much silverware I’d still have had a great time there.
“Everyone associated with Bradford was brilliant to me and it’s very sad to see such a great club in this state.
“Super League needs Bradford Bulls because they’ve had so much success and are a massive club with a fantastic fanbase.
“Like everybody else who has been a part of the club and supported it, I’m just hoping the Bulls survive.”
Many former stars such as Brian McDermott, Jamie Peacock, Leon Pryce, Stuart Fielden, Shontayne Hape, Lesley Vainikolo and Sam Burgess donated memorabilia to be auctioned during the Quest for Survival campaign.
Deacon added: “I donated my 2003 Grand Final shirt from the year we won the treble.
“The highlights of my time at the Bulls? There are far too many to pick one out.
“The 2003 Challenge Cup final was a memorable game for quite a few reasons. We won every trophy on offer that year, and 2005 was special too.
“There were so many players leaving the club who I had played with for seven or eight years.
“Being made captain was special and that stands out for me as well. There are so many memories and I still see a lot of the lads.
“I went to the Leeds game at Odsal earlier in the season and it was great to rekindle the friendships with old team-mates.
“You meet them and it’s like you have just bumped into them again from a day earlier.
“I had a special relationship with those players and have still got many friends from that time.”
Wigan have won silverware in the past two seasons and are hot favourites to extend their winning run tomorrow night.
Deacon declared: “I’m enjoying myself immensely and feel very privileged to be given the opportunity in my first year as a coach.
“The best thing about is that we beat Widnes on Monday night and 13 of the 17 lads came through the Wigan system.
“I have to pinch myself sometimes because it’s a fantastic place to be right now. Our goal this season is to win both trophies on offer.”
There was no progress in the search for a buyer yesterday as Mick Potter’s squad held a meeting to discuss various matters surrounding the club’s plight.