Rising Bears meet Bradford Bulls.
Bradford Bulls are beyond doubt one of the biggest names in Rugby League, and on Sunday they will be entertaining Coventry Bears in a League 1 fixture at their famous Odsall Stadium in front of a crowd some eight or ten times bigger than the Bears are used to.
This is the first of two ‘big name games’ on the trot as the following week, Bears travel up to Super League Widnes in the cup.
But back to next Sunday’s encounter, which will give Tom Tsang’s young and developing team another taste of the big time and how did this come about?
Wind the clock back a decade and the Bulls were in their prime; Super League winners, World Club Championship winners, huge crowds enjoying great games and atmosphere in their bowl of a stadium. But off the pitch, things were taking a turn for the worse, and administration followed in 2012, and again in 2014,and again in 2016, each time rocking the club to its foundations.
Indeed the present club is a rapid reincarnation of a once great club beset with financial problems.
Now they find themselves unthinkably in the third tier of the game, mixing it with the smaller clubs from the North and new kids on the block like the Bears.
But make no mistake, the Bulls are still huge, have a massive fanbase and a historic stadium.
Some would point to analogies with Glasgow Rangers in Scotland, having to effectively start again and work their way up. Others might even see uncomfortable similarities with our own Coventry City.
Meanwhile back to the Bears, and who would have thought five years ago that an amateur team in the midlands would be turning semi-pro, joining the League structure and playing Leeds, Bradford Bulls and Widnes within the space of three months.
Bears 19 Man squad:
Kam Pearce Paul
Chris Vitalini ©️
Mal Lloyd Jones
Liam Rice Wilson