“IT’S one of the best pitches that I have ever been on” were the words of Bradford (Park Avenue) stadium operations manager Mark Leadbeater as he strolled on the new lush 3g pitch at Horsfall for the first time.

Over £600,000 has gone into refurbishing the pitch from it’s often boggy former self to a pristine surface with an ability to host a range of sports. One of them being rugby league.

It was announced earlier this year that West Bowling would be plying their trade at the stadium, once all work had been complete.

Although, the club will have to wait until 2021 for any competitive action, due to COVID-19 cancelling their season.

Leadbeater, who was integral in making the deal, can only see the club going from strength to strength after the move, and hopes they can join Bulls in the professional ranks in the future.

He said: "I spoke to West Bowling about coming on this adventure and between them and the volunteers they have been fantastic.

"One of the biggest amateur teams in Bradford playing in a stadium would be lovely to see.

"Who says they can't climb up the leagues and be in League One one day. There would be nothing wrong in having two successful teams in both sports."

The ex-Bradford Bulls stadium manager, of eight years, was pivotal in helping his former employees reserves side, who were playing at Dudley Hill, find a temporary home of the Horsfall stadium towards the back end of last season

Bulls' senior side are currently half way through a two-year deal at Dewsbury Rams’ Tetleys Stadium but fans are eager to return to Bradford as soon as possible.

Leadbeater expressed his own views, saying: “I would love to see them here (at Horsfall) in the short term then a bigger stadium if they were to get back to Super League which everyone wants to see.

"If we can get 5,000 into Horsfall I don’t see any option better, especially with it being just down the road from Odsal.

“The quality of the pitch is fantastic, it's bigger than Odsal.

"We would have to look at another stand which I would speak to the council to make sure it is safe. Parking issues and other things, but it would be a stepping stone to come back."

So how did Leadbeater get involved with the Horsfall project in the first place?

"I kept asking the question every week if I had a job (at Bulls) and they were never clear," he explained. "I ended up working at Cue Gardens to help manage that place on a temporary basis.

"I was working for Gareth Roberts (Avenue chairman), doing his game day safety, and he wanted me to come on-board full time for what’s happening now with the development. It became exciting.

"I then talked to Bradford Bulls about playing the academy here which went down really well."

Leadbeater can't speak highly enough of Roberts and thinks what he is doing with the community is amazing.

He added: "We both share good values about the community of Bradford. He didn't have to do this.

"He lives in Texas and has put millions into this place. He is still a Bradfordian in his heart.

"I have gone from Odsal, where we didn't do anything, to Gareth’s vision with the stands getting fixed up, new security fences and the 3g pitch.

"It is going to be a pleasure to work around. It couldn’t have come at a better time for me. A lot of hard hours have been put in but I am enjoying it."

Leadbeater's role won't be to work directly with Avenue, it will be to encourage more sports to come use the new facilities.

He added: "I have got to make sure it is booked out and safe. We have plans to put in another six changing rooms, a hospitality suite and to do up the pavilion changing rooms for the first team.

"We just want to make things better. You have seen with Mark (Bower)’s signings that we don’t want to go through what we did last year. I think the future is really bright at this place.

"If we can make the stadium viable, everyone benefits from it. It is a non-profitable business so everything generated will go back in.

"Another part of our strategy is to get a good running track round here so we can build the athletics as well. It is a multi sports stadium.

Leadbeater ended on stating what drives him, saying: "I’m a Bradfordian and that’s important to me. I’ll do whatever I can to make sure every club I work for is in good shape.

"It doesn’t matter if I work 80 hours, I will be there to do it."