Ban­tams scram­ble

Can Brad­ford City step up?

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS -

bRAD­FORD: A gritty north­ern in­dus­trial city with a pop­u­la­tion of over half a mil­lion. A city with a club which, last sea­son, had the sec­ond high­est at­ten­dance in their league.

But a city which has not seen top-flight foot­ball since 2001 and a club which cur­rently pre­sides in the third-tier. Will the Ban­tams ever come home to roost? It is well within liv­ing mem­ory that Brad­ford City were in the Premier League. At the turn of the cen­tury, the club were bat­tling it out at the top ta­ble of English foot­ball with the likes of Leeds United, Derby County, Ip­swich Town and Coven­try City (and we all know how their tales have ended up).

But, un­like the clubs pre­vi­ously men­tioned, the sad plight of Brad­ford City is not as well­told.

If you fast for­ward six years from their rel­e­ga­tion from the Premier League in 2001, the club had dropped down to League Two, the Foot­ball League base­ment.

The mighty Ban­tams had been boiled down to a flappy bird in less than a decade, com­plet­ing one of the big­gest falls from grace, at least on a par with Black­pool and Portsmouth.

In the case of Brad­ford, it would not be till they beat Northamp­ton Town 3-0 in the 201213 League Two play-off fi­nal that they could man­age to to fly out of the base­ment of English foot­ball (al­beit still only into League One). This was the same year of their re­mark­able run to the League Cup fi­nal, where they ul­ti­mately lost to Michael Lau­drup’s Swansea City.

Since that fate­ful sea­son they have resided in League One, but not through lack of try­ing.

In the 2014-15 sea­son, they nar­rowly missed out on the play-offs, fin­ish­ing sev­enth.

The fol­low­ing two sea­sons saw them take that next step, but they ended up be­ing grilled at the hands of Mill­wall in the semi-fi­nals in 2015-16 and the fi­nal last sea­son when Steve Mori­son struck late on for the Lions.

After a com­plete sea­son of not los­ing at home with­out suf­fi­cient re­ward, the fans were rightly ques­tion­ing whether they’d ever es­cape the League One coop.

Two man­agers, Phil Parkin­son and Stu­art McCall, both failed to make home form count in the large scheme of things which surely in­di­cates the prob­lem was a club-based one rather than the man­age­ment’s.

With the club man­ag­ing to main­tain an im­pres­sive at­ten­dance of 18,000 last sea­son - and hav­ing sold over 18,000 sea­son tick­ets this year – it’s fair to say that Val­ley Pa­rade is one of the most in­tim­i­dat­ing sta­di­ums in League One.

This con­trib­uted to an amaz­ing 17-month un­beaten home run.

How­ever, they picked up the most home draws of any club in the di­vi­sion along the way, cru­cially drop­ping points.

It ap­peared the home record be­came a noose around their necks. They were des­per­ate not to lose in­stead of be­ing des­per­ate to win.

This sea­son has al­ready seen the end of their un­beaten home run at the ex­pense of rel­e­gated Black­burn Rovers, los­ing nar­rowly 1-0.

Since then, many a York­shire pun­dit has ex­pressed re­lief, ar­gu­ing McCall’s men can now look to win games rather than play for the draw. This new free­dom was shown when Brad­ford went on to win their next home game against Bris­tol Rovers 3-0, Char­lie Wyke hit­ting a hat-trick.

This was a con­vinc­ing win tele­vised on Sky Sports and will have im­pressed view­ers across the na­tion.

Brad­fore are again con­sid­ered pro­mo­tion con­tenders and look to have the fire­power to make a go of it.

Of course, there is a long way to go and even the most op­ti­mistic Brad­ford fan will doubt whether or not they can achieve a top two spot this sea­son.

After all, they have not got au­to­matic pro­mo­tion since 1999. How­ever, after an ab­sence of 13 years from the sec­ond tier of English foot­ball, the club are per­haps the clos­est they have ever been to re­gain­ing a spot in the Cham­pi­onship.

If they can keep striker Wyke fir­ing, you can guar­an­tee to see a more pos­i­tive Brad­ford side that will com­pete at the top of the league and des­per­ately try to avoid the dis­ap­point­ment of last sea­son.

With ex­pe­ri­ence in the form of Ro­main Vincelot, Matthew Kil­gal­lon and Tony McMa­hon and the youth of Do­minic Poleon and Omari Pa­trick, this could be the sea­son where the Ban­tams fi­nally lay their fi­nal eggs in League One.

What­ever hap­pens, you can guar­an­tee the Val­ley Pa­rade will be as packed as ever and the flock will be singing away with the hope Brad­ford will re­turn to the Cham­pi­onship. Let’s just hope they don’t cock it up!

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