How it all started

Odsal Stadium was originally developed for Bradford Northern Rugby League Club. Northern signed a ten year deal on 20 June 1933 with Bradford Council to make it their home ground. At the time it was just a tip; the Bradford Director of Cleansing organised a controlled tipping effort that saw 140,000 cart loads of household waste removed from the banking at Odsal. To be able to turf the pitch, and other areas, a turf fund was put into place, the fund raised a total of £900, enough to do the job. A stand was erected at the cost of £2,000, which was paid by the Rugby Football League.

The ground actually became a multi-sport venue when a 390-yard speedway track was laid. Bradford Northern’s Harry Hornby invited Johnnie Hoskins to bring speedway to Odsal. The Lord Mayor, Alderman Cecil Barnett, officially opened the track on 23 June 1945. Over 20,000 flocked to see the Odsal ‘Boomerangs’, it set the scene for the sports boom period.

An earth slip in 1945 caused the rebuilding of the 8-year-old Hospital side stand. The £16,397 cost, included driving new piles, a virtual new stand and converting the wooden railway sleeper terracing to concrete on the north west corner of the Rooley Lane end. A further £5,650 was spent seating the lower part of the New Stand, as it inevitably became known. To prevent another earth slip, golden elder, flowering currant and gorse were planted to help absorb water from the banking.

The first speedway season was marred when the promising Huddersfield born junior Albert “Aussie” Rosenfeld died on 16th July 1946. Ten days after hitting the back wheel of Belle Vue’s Wally Lloyd. A further crash which ended the career of the veteran rider Colin Watson resulted in the sports governing body, the Speedway Control Board, issuing an ultimatum that the Odsal track shape be changed or its license would be withdrawn. This resulted in the square corners disappearing and a more typical oval shape emerging.

Speedway continued to attract huge crowds. 47,050 saw England defeat Australia 65-43 on 5 July 1947. The attendance still stands as the record crowd for a speedway meeting in Bradford.

At the end of the 1948 season Johnnie Hoskins resigned, due to the increasing time demanded by his speedway interests in Scotland. He was replaced on the board of directors by Bruce Booth, nephew of Northern director Harry Hornby, and Eric Langton, the former Belle Vue rider who finished runner up in the first world championship in 1936.

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