A BUMPER crowd of more than seven and a half thousand turned out for the final chapter of Odsal Stadium.

Now, that's it.

A relic that will fade into a memory, with the book closed shut on over 80 years of history.

It's the end of an era and Bradford Bulls put in a performance to match when playing out the final ever 80 minutes of sport at the fabled ground on Sunday, September 1, 2019.

They ran out 30-10 victors against Sheffield Eagles, on this date to remember.

There was a sombre, yet reluctant celebratory mood amongst the fans as they watered themselves at their favourite pre-match pubs for one last time.

Keith Johnson first experienced Odsal when his grandad took him as a youngster and said the whole occasion felt like a funeral.

He added: "It’s a dreadful day to be honest for Bradfordians.

"I’ve been coming to Odsal for over 40 years, so it means a lot to lose a stadium and certainly to lose a stadium and anybody from Bradford has got to go to Dewsbury now.

"We all understand that the stadium’s in disrepair and things need to be done, but unfortunately there’s nobody in Bradford with that kind of money to be able to do it, so it's a very sad day."

Mr Johnson also gave a special personal tribute to a ground that has meant so much to his family.

He said: "I have been known as Captain Hornblower. I didn’t give myself that name, a guy called Steve Long gave me that name as a pseudonym.

"I played the trumpet for a long time, since the Northern days, and I’ll be playing it today as a final tribute to an end of Odsal."

Jacqueline Hodgson said: "I remember aged four with my dad and my grandad and we’ve been coming ever since.

"It’s sad. I think it’s important to be part of the history, I think so for anybody."

Before the match, Bulls had a slim hope of making the play-offs, so that was also on the mind of some supporters.

Graham Smith, who has watched the side since 1968 said: "Today I’ve got mixed feelings, because I want the two points but afterwards, that’s when it happens.

"When you get on that pitch, have a walk round, look at the old stadium.

"There’ll be moments there where it will be emotional, there’s no doubt about that.

"When I was looking for a shirt to wear I thought, I’m going to find a glory shirt and here it is 2004, World Club Challenge, Robbie’s shirt, why not? Let’s celebrate.

"We’ll say goodbye to the old lass, we’ll have a few beers and then we’ll move on."

He added: "If you’ve ever supported this club in your life, you need to be here today.

"Because this is probably the last time you’ll have to be able to go inside and say, ‘it’s been nice to know you, but we’ll see you later.'"

Odsal has brought about many a fond memory for supporters across the years.

Kevin Deegan and Colin Richardson, both who have been coming since 2002, champion this season's mammoth Challenge Cup upset against Leeds Rhinos.

Meanwhile, Adrian Golding - who moved to Queensbury from Kent - fondly remembers his first match, watching Lesley Vainikolo in his final game.

He said: "We were invited by my wife’s family and it was a really nice occasion – we got pictures with him and it was just a really great atmosphere and we’ve been coming ever since; I think that was 2007.

"I’m very gutted. We’ve made some good friends, we’ve got a good network of friends here that we’re still going to obviously keep in touch with.

"It’s just a shame that it’s had to happen this way, but we’ll still follow them to Dewsbury, we’ll follow them wherever they go and hopefully they’ll be back here soon."

In a strange twist of fate, Australian Glen Thwaites was at Odsal for his very first game.

He said: "I’m looking forward to it, I’ve been promising a mate that I’d come for a few years and he’s finally dragged me along.

"We planned it a few months ago and at that stage we had no idea this was going to be the last game here.

"So it’s turned out to be quite big occasion and I wasn’t expecting it.

"Whenever you’re there for something historical it means a little bit more.

"The fact that I’ve come along today, and I get to enjoy that, it’s something I’m looking forward to a lot."

The closing of the curtain on Odsal inevitably brings up questions about the future of Bradford Bulls.

Some fans at the ground have the belief that they may even make a return to their fabled home.

John Chapman, who attended his first game 42 years ago, said: "I personally think we’ll be coming back. I’ve got an inkling that it won’t be our last ever game here.

"There’s a lot of history, it’s going to be an emotional day – it’s already started.

"We’ll be back, whether it’s here, Dewsbury next year, a purpose-built stadium, who knows.

"With a bit of luck we’ll be back at Odsal."

Mark Robinson, who also starting watching Bulls in the 70s, is sad to be leaving Odsal, but it more irked by the implications of the Dewsbury move.

He said: "I think once they go out of Bradford today, that’s it, they won’t come back – that’s my opinion.

"Also, local businesses. You’re taking all local businesses into Dewsbury when it should be in Bradford."

At the end of the game, fans were invited to come onto the "hallowed turf" for a group photo.

It was a joyous occasion with supporters interacting with and meeting their heroes, while also getting to be part of Odsal's final chapter.

There were even rumours that some might take a little momento of their own from the pitch - in the form of a patch of grass.

Mr Golding said: "I haven’t brought my trowel, if we can then we will – I’ll put it in my missus’s bag."

Mr Robinson added: "I’ll be running on, but I don’t know about a piece of turf."

As Coldplay once sang: "Tears come streaming down your face, when you lose something you cannot replace."

It is time for a move, that much is for certain and many fans have been in agreement that something needed to be done.

But, that doesn't take away from the fact that this most famous of bowls holds memories, history and stature.

It quite simply will never be replaced.

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