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A job well done by Bradford Bulls staff
Like every Bulls fan, Megan Potter’s heart sank when it was announced that the club effectively stood on the brink of oblivion.
On March 27 came the news that unless supporters raised £1million – at least half by mid-April – a sporting institution faced going bust.
And so from there, on that tumultuous Tuesday morning, the seeds were sown for the most traumatic season in the club’s recent history.
It did not look good.
Chairman Peter Hood said the situation could not be more critical.
Director Andrew Bennett talked of the club being at death’s door.
A Quest for Survival fundraising campaign was launched and Mick Potter’s wife played a pivotal role in the administration department as ticket office manager.
Reunited with the former Bulls coach in Australia this week after finishing work at Odsal, Megan recalled: “We were a small staff anyway, so a few of us got together quickly and discussed how we were going to track all the information and record all the pledges.
“It was a busy time with the Leeds game on Good Friday – and on top of that we were trying to drive the pledge and reach £500,000 in 11 days.
“Your next task is then getting in the money and the only place to do that is your front office.
“We did it and were lucky to have such a strong set of volunteers and people who had spent a lot of time there.”
Hood and Bennett had spoken of their hope of attracting the investment required to stave off administration.
However, they were unseated by a group of majority shareholders, led by former chairman Chris Caisley, in early May.
Megan said: “Everything changed from when the pledge started and where it ended up because of the situation between the two parties.
“But I know that we hit that target of £500,000 and I know that they (Hood and Bennett) pulled in the money in good faith.
“At that stage we were going to get the rest of the money. I don’t know what the investment was but I do believe that was true.
“That changed because people weren’t sure what they were investing in or who was going to be in charge of the club. That put everything on shaky ground.”
On June 26, with Hood and Bennett gone and no major investment forthcoming, the club were placed into the hands of administrator Brendan Guilfoyle.
Less than a week later, Guilfoyle sacked the club’s entire coaching staff and key employees such as Megan, Debbie Charlton, Ryan Duckett and Stuart Duffy.
Many returned to work without pay, while former general manager Gary Tasker was appointed as interim chief executive to steady the ship.
Megan, who had worked at Bradford during her husband’s first spell at the club as assistant coach in the late 1990s, recalled: “Bradford would have gone under had those people not worked to keep it going.
“I’m not just talking about the coaching staff but also the office staff, who hadn’t been earning a lot of money anyway.
“You’re trying to get games on and all of a sudden you haven’t got a groundsman.
“You haven’t got anybody to sell anything. There were kids in charge of the front office and nobody appreciated the pressure that they were under.”
Megan was reinstated on a paid basis but Mick Potter and his coaching staff continued to work voluntarily until the end of the season.
He was subsequently voted Super League coach of the year – and the Bulls would have made the play-offs had they not been docked six points.
The Potters could easily have headed home before the season ended.
Financial assistance from the hardship fund set up by BullBuilder helped deter them – as did the strength of their relationship, which began as teenagers.
Megan explained: “You think ‘next week we’ll go home’ and then it keeps going on and you feel like you’re walking out on everything – the players; the fans.
“Therefore we just kept going.
“Has it brought Mick and I even closer together? Yes, I think it probably has.
“We both had the same goal and understood what each other was trying to do.
“It is difficult at times but you learn about people and even each other.
“You don’t know what effect the stress is going to have but I think it brought out the best in Mick.
“I know what he’s like but it was good for other people to see that too.
“We don’t leave as bitter people, otherwise we wouldn’t have stayed here, that’s for sure.
“Yes, it was very difficult at times, but there are a lot of things that we will look back on with good memories.”
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