Gareth Roberts New Year Message

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The end of 2019 has been a very exciting one for Bradford (Park Avenue) and for me personally. On the field we have Mark, Danny, Tally, Steve, Ian and team back at the helm of the first team. Things have been tough on the pitch this season and Mark Bower and team continue to work to try to avoid relegation. We all wish them well as they work through everything they can. Hopefully we can still climb away from relegation, but it will be trying. We appreciate your unstinting support and positivity through these times. Hopefully we can eventually climb away from relegation.

Off the pitch is equally important. Bradford MD Council have agreed that we can lease the Stadium for decades to come, and we are working hard with our associated charity, The Horsfall Community Trust, to continue our community projects (thanks Mark Duffy!). We will be presenting plans for refurbishment of the facilities at the Stadium for the benefit of the first team and for much wider and busier community use – watch this space!

With an exciting 2020 to come, we have now secured Mark Leadbeater as Operations Manager on a full-time contract, looking after all our health and safety, facility contracts and revenue generation, to ensure a good long-term future for everyone involved in the Club, at the Stadium, and locally in the community. Most of you will know Mark from his work as our safety officer at game days but he has an extensive background in planning and running major events in Bradford over the last 10 years. Mark has worked with several clubs in Football and Rugby League, and has an excellent reputation in the sports industry. As a result Carl Marsden’s role will move across to cover IT & Design and Marketing Planning on a part-time basis. Many thanks to Carl for his vital work when we needed help to keep the office and many activities going in the Summer, and for his continuing enthusiasm to serve the Club. Supporters should buy him a beer at the first opportunity.

We thank Robert Clunas, Joe Mosley and Keith Denison for their continuing efforts in leading the Horsfall Community Trust, and we have now added Colin Wilson as Consultant Director of Development for the Stadium development project. Colin joined in November and his work spans the future aspirations of both the Club and Trust. He spearheads and co-ordinates our many ideas and the developments we may pursue. With the great preparatory work already done by the Trust, we hope we will be able to secure funding and partnerships that will enable the Club and Trust to take advantage of the appetite of the local community for much greater usage of the Stadium’s potential.

Back to the pitch (and hopefully a new 3G pitch in 2020/21), we are pleased to announce that under manager Neal Asquith, the BPA Ladies want to merge more fully with the Club. Ian Softley and his enthusiastic team of coaches at BPA Juniors also wish to re-merge with us. This will make us all stronger for a sustainable future. But it’s about Education, community, Rugby, Athletics and multi-sport activities too. We are pleased to be forming a new, expanded contract with Des Hazel as our Academy Head Coach and Mick Wood as valued Assistant, and we thank Elliot Mather as our Education lead for ongoing teaching work. In 2020 they are tasked with growing their numbers and preparing the Academy to take on new students from other sports too, if we can. We are in talks with other community sports about the Academy and other significant partnerships, and we will make further announcements as we can.

Thank you to all our many Volunteers and other staff (Colin Barker, Pete Sowden, Sharon Burnett, Alan Ham, Neil Fawcett, Ben Harvey, Dave Stordy, Sean our groundsman, Roger Banks, Trevor Steele, and many, many others – too many to mention you all, so apologies!) – you do so much to make the Stadium work, and to keep the spirit of Horsfall glowing brightly for us all.

Have a Happy New Year everyone, and let’s work together to make 2020 a year that we can look back on with great satisfaction in our proud history.