IT WAS the dream move for Elliot Minchella – a classic “no brainer”.

The former West Bowling amateur, who had grown up in Wibsey, was finally offered the chance to wear his beloved red, amber and black at Odsal.

A Bulls player in his mid-teens before Brian McDermott’s Leeds Rhinos came knocking, Minchella at last had the opportunity to represent the team his family had always followed.

There was just one slight fly in the ointment for the then-Sheffield Eagle – the prospect of having to start out in League One. But heart ruled head and he needn’t have worried.

“It wasn’t an easy decision,” recalled Minchella over his Bulls move 13 months ago. “If we didn’t get up, you don’t want to play two seasons in League One.

“When I got approached by Bradford, I could have stayed at Sheffield and taken the easy option of staying in the Championship.

“They are a great club and I had two good years there but it was my dream to play here.

“Yes, it was in League One but I was excited by the challenge of playing for the Bulls.

“They’d dropped down and I wanted to be part of the journey.

“It’s paid off and we’ve made a start.”

With the Boxing Day warm-up game against York just 11 days away, the Bulls are back in the swing of it in the build-up to their Championship return.

Boasting such a core of local talent, helping to restore the club nearer to their past glories feels all the sweeter for John Kear’s squad.

Last season’s promotion has also meant Minchella can happily go out and about without getting his ear chewed off by Bulls fans.

He laughed: “I only live around the corner, so when we have a bad day I hear about it.

“But when you play for your hometown team, it’s a dream.

“George Flanagan never shuts up about it how much he loves it.

“I used to come down here with my grandad and my dad (Chris) and watch the good old days.

“It means the world to me and you probably do give that extra 10 per cent.

“When you’re blowing during a game, you think about your dad standing on the terraces every week and can’t let him down.

“Everybody was talking us up last season saying we were going to go unbeaten all year and that sort of rubbish.

“We had a few hiccups along the way and it’s been tough. But I’m absolutely over the moon to be back in the Championship.

“The club are moving in the right direction and hopefully it’s the start of something good.”

Expectations were understandably sky high in a division made up entirely of part-time opponents. Now the Bulls are getting ready to mix it with the big boys like Toronto and Widnes as well as established Championship clubs such as Halifax.

But they have a realistic shot at the top five and a play-off spot – and inevitably the support will once again be dreaming big.

“That comes with the name of Bradford Bulls,” added Minchella. “We’re a big club and rightly so because of the history.

“We’re there to be shot at. Whenever we play anybody they raise their game, it’s their biggest game of the season.

“That comes with wearing the jersey. It’s not like you are playing for any other club.

“We’re fully aware of that and at times maybe we didn’t manage that well last season. We weren’t composed and lost our heads a little bit.

“It’s going to be tough. I’ve played the previous three or four years in the Championship and know there are some good teams.”

The versatile Minchella, whose 33-try haul last season was only beaten by League One top scorer Ethan Ryan, does not turn 23 until the week before the Odsal curtain-raiser.

It’s a common theme in a youthful squad that he believes can get better as they continue to mature as a group.

He said: “Look at our team and there are that many young lads.

“If we all stick together, there’s absolutely huge potential. There are so many lads from Bradford as well and that’s important.

“We can grow together. We are young and probably inexperienced as well.

“There are a few of us who’ve played a few games but the majority of the lads have only had one or two seasons playing professional rugby.

“We’ve learned along the way and that shows something.

“I feel I have come on leaps and bounds under John and tried to take more of a leadership role. Hopefully I can progress even more in the Championship.”