THEIR name has become synonymous with the Bradford end at Valley Parade.

The TL Dallas sponsorship has been one of the few constants during the rollercoaster of the last two decades.

The latest deal, signed in the summer, will mean the insurance company has been emblazoned behind the goal for 20 years.

Historically, the links go back much further to when Colonel TL Dallas himself helped the Fattorini family by putting money into the club as a director soon after World War One.

As the company mark their centenary, the link with City is one group director Mike Martin remains proud of.

And having been a stand sponsor since 2003, he is well qualified to assess the ups and downs since succeeding previous backers Symphony.

He said: “We went to see Julian Rhodes and Gordon Gibb at the time and wanted to do something helpful.

“The Symphony Stand, as it was then, had been abandoned.

“We talked about various things and then Gordon rang me back up – and was a bit rude really.

“I said I’d rather speak to Julian, which I did, and we did the deal first hand.

“We’ve tried to give it to them in three-year chunks all the way through, so they have that certainty that the money is coming in.”

Martin admitted they have never attempted to bale – even when City were plunged back into administration halfway through their first season.

The constant presence of Rhodes has been a key factor in a relationship they see as being part of the city’s community.

Edin Rahic, though, could have been a more awkward customer but for the fact that TL Dallas already had their deal nailed down before he took charge.

“We’d already committed for three years before Stefan (Rupp) and Edin took the club on,” added Martin.

“When other sponsors were having some difficulty negotiating, I just said, ‘sorry we’ve already got a deal’.

“We were quite lucky in some respects.

“I did have conversations with Edin. Because we had a deal in place, he couldn’t do much about it.

“He had to honour the contract that was there. I think he was trying to see if he could get more out of any sponsor.

“I told him sponsorship at Bradford is from the heart to some extent.

“Part of it is being associated with the club and being made to feel special. It’s not a financial scenario but a local business getting behind their club.

“I don’t think he got that.”

The unexpected exit of former chief operating officer James Mason before the start of last season highlighted the discord Martin could sense between Rahic and City’s employees.

“We fell out over that in the end because I felt he was treating very loyal people disrespectfully.

“I couldn’t fathom it when James was going. I thought, ‘there’s something horribly wrong here’ because James just would not walk away.

“It was a difficult time but we felt we’d been there long enough and anyone who knew the club would know that (way of treating people) wasn’t us.

“We’d met Stefan quite a bit and we felt that he wasn’t aware of quite a lot that was going on.

“It seemed completely contrary to what I’d have thought he found acceptable.

“Gordon Gibb didn’t always behave very nicely. Mark (Lawn) was a completely different personality, he wasn’t the personality for us but I actually liked a lot of what he did.

“We stamped the relationship with Julian, which was good, as well as David Baldwin and then James.”

As a fourth-generation family-run firm, Martin can feel that tight-knit bond coming back to the club. Valley Parade is an “optimistic and positive” place again.

“Morale is restored to a large extent,” he said. “It must have been very difficult for people to carry on doing their jobs.

“You hear about the Bantams family and that is important to us.

“We’ve made a lot of good friends with the other sponsors and among the firms associated with the club.

“We’re a bit of a marker to show that it must be worth doing because we’ve been here for so long.

“If you do some business, that’s a bonus, but that’s not how you measure it. It's about support."