Very Rough Guide to Div 4: Bradford City

Very Rough Guide to Division 4
Bratfud City
Bradford City?
They used to be big. Well, fairly big. Bigger than anyone else in this division (even Bury!). But since those heady days of the mid-90s, a pinch of ITV Digital collapse, a sprinkling of Benito Carbone’s £40k-per-week wages and a dash of overzealous stadium development have resulted in what you see today; a big fish (battered) in a small, garlic pond.

City were founded in 1903, when Football Association bosses noted a fairly large, rugby-shaped chasm in West Yorkshire. Up until then, rugby league had been the dominant code in the county, with Bradford a particular hotbed of the game. The FA, spotting the opportunity to expand into RL’s territory, immediately granted the newly-formed Bradford City a berth into the Football League, displacing Doncaster Rovers, (presumably because their kits are awful).

The new club fared well, initially, culminating in an FA Cup Final victory over Newcastle United in 1910/11, the year before the Titanic sank. Indeed, the 1910s-20s were a good period for most Yorkshire teams; Sheffield’s United and Wednesday, Huddersfield Town and Barnsley all won the Cup in those years. After the war, however, things didn’t go quite so well for God’s Own County (and Bradford City in particular) footballing-wise.

The Bantams slipped dahn t’league following World War I, and they bobbled around in Divisions Three and Four for about 40 years. Relegation immediately followed each promotion until ’84/85 when they finally regained their spot in the Football League’s second division. As they were celebrating their victory on the final day of the season, however, Valley Parade caught fire and 56 supporters (including two from Lincoln City) lost their lives. The Valley Parade Disaster remains one of the most tragic incidents in football history, in an era when fan safety was a concern placed somewhat below profit maximisation and corner cutting. City have never forgotten the tragedy, but football did, as the Hillsborough disaster just four years later so catastrophically told.

Through these dark times, Bradford City played decent football away from Valley Parade for nearly two years. They survived relegation in their first season and reached the playoffs semis the year after in 87/88. However, it was to be their highest finish for several years. They fell back into the third tier in 88/89 and remained there for three seasons until a certain Mr. Geoffrey Richmond became chairman.

Premier League football came to Bradford for two consecutive seasons between 1999 and 2001. Unfortunately, the money being spent by Richmond to sustain this wasn’t being recouped elsewhere, and that meant bad news for the clubs accountants. ITV Digital’s implosion had something to do with it, but on the most part it was simply rampant over-spending which sealed Bradford’s fate. Following their relegation in ’01, Bradford City went into administration and began a free-fall which they still have not recovered from. They’ve been in Division Four for three seasons now.

Last Season?
Bratfud marginally improved on their first season in the bottom tier by finishing 9th instead of 10th, on one of the biggest budgets in the league. You might expect Bradford to fire their manager then, given this underachievement, but no, they actually begged Stuart McCall to stay. It’s as if they don’t want to leave.

They started well last year, beating us 2-0 at their ground and heading the league for a while, with the old-but-wiley Peter Thorne scoring plenty. However, they stumbled, and the 3-0 drubbing they got at Spotland was indicative of their post-Christmas slump. Bradford were the league’s fakers; occasionally elegant but underneath lay a seedy underbelly of consistent fouling and bad discipline. That’s what you get when you’ve got Stuart McCall in charge, no matter how funny he is at falling over.

This season?
Probably much of the same. They’ve slashed their budget for this season, but it still remains higher than most clubs, and they could afford to entice Simon Ramsden to West Yorkshire by offering higher wages than us (or were they the same?). Either way, it remains to be seen how McCall will fare on a lower budget; he still has yet to impress most lower league followers (to put it mildly), although remains infinitely popular in Bradford itself, which is what matters.

Bradford the place?
American travel writer Bill Bryson once said, “Bradford’s role in life is to make every place else in the world look better in comparison, and it does this very well.”, which is perhaps a little harsh, but understandable from an outside perspective such as his. Bradford indeed is a drab looking place; home to a poor university, a deteriorating Media Museum and a myriad of chain pubs called things like Varsity, or Tokyo. But, at least it has these things; spruce Bradford up with the redevelopment of the city’s old mills and Victorian architecture and it might not be so bad. Probably.

Playwright J. B. Priestley is probably the most famous Bradfordian in history, and he has a statue outside the media museum that looks like a fat Menzies Campbell. Other notable residents include TV reality show “winners” Gareth Gates and Kimberley Walsh. The late, great Richard Whiteley also hails from a suburb of Bradford, which instantly makes me like the place more than I do now (which isn’t a lot).

Bradford City in a word?

Written by Matt Boothman on 6th July 2009.

> Very Rough Guide Index 09/10


17 Responses to Very Rough Guide to Div 4: Bradford City

  1. acidal says:

    How many years have you been in the Khazi league?

  2. Matt Boothman says:

    From 1974/75 until 2009/10, which is 35 consecutive seasons.

    Surely we get some kind of prize if we reach 40?

  3. Gareth says:

    Speaking as a Bradford fan, that’s a pretty decent read actually….

    Too many City fans still with delusions of grandeur for my liking.

  4. Paul Jackson says:

    Check your stats, bad discipline? 1 sending off all season. A decent read spoilt by an unnecessary slight on the way our team approached games. I accept we weren’t good enough but an ill disciplined side, do me a favour.

  5. Northern Monkey says:

    Spot on

  6. John Clough says:

    In 1968/9 both City and the Dale were promoted from Division 4 with identical records of 18 wins, 20 draws and 8 defeats with Dale pipping City for 3rd on goal average.
    An entertaining and fair read (speaking as a City fan) but may I respectfully point out a couple of areas lacking objectivity. Firstly whilst no Ivy League establishment the University of Bradford was placed 53rd out of 114 universities in last year’s Time ranking. To describe it as “poor” is therefore highly questionable. Its School of Business and Management is acknowledged to be world class and its MBAs are highly prized. Secondly the excellent Film and TV Museum is consistently the most visited museum outside London (approx 750,000 visitors pa) and to describe it as “deteriorating” is very subjective. A 15 minute bus ride from Valley Parade is the World Heritage Site of Saltaire village of which we are also very proud. Sorry if this response seems petty but there are enough people(including many Bradfordians) routinely running down our city and there is another side to the place. Oh, and as for our “awful” kit, at least it is distictive and original whereas blue and white to be honest is just a little on the common side.
    Enjoy the season, Dale have been a decent footballing team (unlike us) over the past couple of seasons and I’d settle for another joint promotion in 2009-10.

  7. manfred17 says:

    Agree with some of what you write, but not this: “seedy underbelly of consistent fouling and bad discipline”. We were third in the fair play league in 2008-09. How did you come to your conclusion that we were a dirty, ill-disciplined team? If anything, I thought we were too soft over the last two seasons and needed to get stuck in more.

    I don’t suppose that you are basing your assertion on anything more than the angry reaction of our players to some poor refereeing at your place last season. McArdle could have been sent off, the penalty award against Conlon was dodgy, and the pen that Clarke conceded was far from clear cut. The reaction of our players to perceived injustices was disappointing, but it was a one-off. The subsequent implied slur that our team is not only a dirty one, but that it is dirty because McCall is in charge is not just a cheap shot – it is also inaccurate.

  8. Matt Boothman says:

    To answer some of Bradford’s fans’ comments:

    Firstly, I do base my “consistent fouling and bad discipline” comment on that one night at Spotland, this being my most recent memory of Bradford. Unlike City fans I have seen Bradford but twice last year, and the second time Bradford, and McCall (and especially his assistant manager) behaved horribly.

    Secondly, the University of Bradford IS poor. Having just recently left Huddersfield Uni (which isn’t brilliant) I can assure you Bradford is no better. A fellow Bradfordian in my flat told me so, in fact.

    And thirdly, I went to the National Media Museum a few months ago actually. I went about 6 years before that as well and I found a few of the exhibits that were rubbish then were still rubbish now, or broken (mostly the kids stuff, obviously). Perhaps dilipidated is too strong a word, but I don’t think its work done to it has improved it at all.

    Finally, to John Clough, it was Doncaster’s kit I was describing as awful. Red and white hoops, you have to admit, are more suited to rugby. And we don’t wear blue and white, we wear blue and black, which is unique in the English leagues.

  9. Fred the Fish Wife says:

    Excellent article.

    I agree with the constructive comments above.

    Re the incidents in the 3-0 win – yes you got the benefit of a couple of dodgy decisions, but the win was thoroughly deserved. The passion and committment shown by your players in the first 20 minutes was amazing. The game should have been over by then.

    I think the frustration of Jacobs (assistant) was due to the fact that he realised that he was working with players who could not be motivated and this was laid bare during the game.

    Good luck next seasons. I like your style of footy and think your manager is one of the best in the lower leagues

  10. MHBantam says:

    The National Media Museum rubbish?! Are you having a laugh! Im a photography student at huddersfield uni so therefore have a little more than a passing interest on this subject. The museum has regular talks and question and answer sessions from World famous photographers, holds exhibitions of some of the best photographers and photographs in the world. I believe they have the worlds oldest negative in their collection along with one of only 2 or 3 IMAX cinema screens in the country (that screen is bigger than the whole of Rochdale).

    And just because your flat mate said Bradford Uni is rubbish doesn’t mean it is, those league table things don’t lie. Neither does the fair play league that we came 3rd in.

    Yeah the city is neglected but its no worse than a lot of places.

    Yes the city is neglected

  11. Bobby98007 says:

    Hardly an informed opinion you have about the City of Bradford and to team itself is it?

    You have based your opinions on one game of football, when you left Huddersfield University, i hope to god it wasnt on a journalism course. The wealth of talent that the Huddersfield Examiner has to choose from these days.

    Im the first to admit the centre of Bradford is a disgrace, and the nightlife isnt as good as it should be, however just because your flat mate who comes from Bradford says the Uni is crap doesnt mean it is, unless your mate is David Lammy and he isnt telling us everything he should be?

    I suggest that before you write an article about the place, you actually visit it, and walk around and talk to people. Instead of relying on Google and a fella you met in the pub.

    Honestly, its like getting Royal correspondance from a Queens Guard

  12. Matt Boothman says:

    To Bobby;

    Please note the title of this feature is “A Very Rough Guide”. I’m not going for a Pulitzer Prize, I’m just attempting to give a sort of sketchy overview which might, or might not, be on the whole balanced. I don’t really care if it isn’t.

    I notice no Bradford fans have noticed the phrase “But, at least it has these things”, suggesting that there are places that don’t even have things like museums and are of equal drabness; Rochdale being one of them.

    And your suggestion of “actually visit it, and walk around and talk to people” is hardly viable for all 23 other teams in the league is it? I’m not a bloody BBC reporter, I write this in my spare time for no reason other than I enjoy it.

    I suggest you take all opinions stated on this site with a pinch of salt.

  13. Damo says:

    I presume you have a fair bit of spare time seeing as a stat came out saying 80% of people from Rochdale were on benefits. To be fair Bradford as a city is fairly dodgy but I’m sure you will agree as with Rochdale it can make you a better person!! Good luck this season

  14. Andy says:

    Interesting article, just wonder what compelled you to write it? Is there a rough guide to Bury, Darlington, Grimsby, Aldershot etc? If so, have you got a link? No offence, I just really can’t be bothered traipsing through Rochdale related baloney to find them.

    When I started reading through this article, I was expecting a ‘tongue-in-cheek’ vibe with references to comical moments such as McCall having a ginger mullet and falling off a car, or us having a rhubarb and custard kit.

    However, although you make a few light-hearted jibes, I really don’t see the point in slagging-off Bradford as a city when you may have been once or twice. Sure, Bradford has run-down areas with high levels of crime, a city centre with pub-chains playing host to binge drinking youths, and a university which may not have the attraction of a Newcastle or Manchester, but find me a City which does not have at least one of the above.

    On a positive note, we are within a ten minute drive of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales, have an international airport, host an international film festival, and, on the note of famous people from Bradford, have played a large part in the development of northern industry and politics in the past.

    Further, if we are comparing our football teams, try closing your eyes and imagining seeing your team play against the likes of David Beckham, Michael Owen, Thierry Henry and Gianfranco Zola when they were in their prime. Keep your eyes shut and imagine the euphoria of beating Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs, Newcastle and Liverpool on your own turf. In fact, just imagine going to a play-off final at Wembley and winning.

    At first I thought you were a wind-up merchant. If you haven’t done a rough guide of any other club, then I am lead to believe that you are just looking for a rise from supporters of a club you see as one of your biggest rivals.

    Fair play though, I shall look forward to our games next season and giving you guys a good hiding at VP and Spotland this time!

    Take care

  15. Matt Boothman says:

    Click on the ‘Latest Articles’, there are three Very Rough Guides up now, Grimsby, Bradford and Chesterfield. I see you can be bothered to write half a dozen or so paragraphs explaining to me how great Bradford is, but yet you can’t be bothered to even go to the homepage of this site and see for yourself there are other guides up.

  16. Andy says:

    Fair enough, do you plan to do one for every team? I take it you travel to the majority of your team’s away games? I can’t wait for the rough guide to Bury…

  17. Matt Boothman says:

    Yes. Well not just me, all the writers on this site. I used to make it to quite a few away games, but this year it might be difficult.

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