BRADFORD Northern stalwart Graham Joyce has passed away after a long illness.

The second-rower was a popular figure at Northern, where he spent nearly a decade of his playing career, winning multiple trophies during his time at the club in the 1970s.

His long spell at Northern coincided with those of greats such as Colin Forsyth and Keith Mumby.

Joyce, who was from Normanton, signed for Bradford from his hometown club in 1969.

He was part of the side that reached the Challenge Cup final in 1973, where the team suffered a 33-14 defeat to Featherstone Rovers.

That was Northern's first appearance in the showpiece since beating Halifax in the 1949 final, and they wouldn't feature again until 1996, where they lost 40-32 to St Helens.

They finally broke their 51-year duck by beating Leeds 24-18 in the 2000 final.

Joyce and Northern bounced back from the disappointment of that Featherstone defeat by winning the Second Division the following season.

Bradford went on to win the Regal Trophy in 1975 and just before Joyce departed for Leeds, he helped his side win the Premiership and Yorkshire Cup in 1978.

Paying tribute to Joyce, member of Bradford Bulls' Heritage Foundation team, John Downes, said: "He was popular, a good footballer who was consistent.

"He was practically in the first team from when he signed until he was transferred to Leeds. He only just missed out on his testimonial, because he joined in 1969 and left in 1978.

"He was a tough player, but he wasn't dirty, and I'm not sure if he ever even got sent off or sin-binned."

Joyce died on June 28. Our condolences go to his partner Karen Arnold and the rest of his family and friends.