Saturday, 2 July 2011

Bradford City - Valley Parade

Bradford City FC
Valley Parade
West Yorkshire

0871 978 1911
Official Website

Ground Number: 129
Bradford City 0-1 Wycombe Wanderers
Saturday 29th September 2007
Coca-Cola League Two


1: Bradford City were formed in 1903 and earnt immediate election to the Football League 2nd Division. They were promoted to Division 1 as champions in 1908 and enjoyed their best ever finish of 5th in the 1st Division in 1911. Relegated in 1922, the club would have to wait 77 years to return to the top tier when in 1999, they were promoted to the Premiership. Against all the odds, they survived the first season, thanks to a 2-1 final day victory over Liverpool, but were relegated the following season. Conversely, their lowest league finish is bottom of the 3rd Division North in 1949 or 23rd in Division 4 in 1963

2: The FA Cup was won in 1911. New Brompton, Norwich City, Grimsby Town, Burnley and Blackburn were beaten to set up a final against Newcastle United at Crystal Palace. This was drawn, but eventually, Bradford City prevailed 1-0 in the replay at Old Trafford, Manchester.

3: Another great feat was reaching the League Cup final whilst a League 2 club. This occurred in 2012-13 as they defeated Notts County, Watford, Burton Albion, Wigan Athletic, Arsenal & Aston Villa (over two legs) only to lose 5-0 to Swansea City in the final at Wembley.

4: Bradford City's sole season in European competition came in the 2000 Intertoto Cup. Lithuanian side FK Atlantas were defeated 7-2 on aggregate in the 2nd Round before the Dutch side RKC Waalwijk were beaten 3-0 over two legs. The adventure would come to an end with an overall 4-0 loss to Zenit St Petersburg in the semi-finals.

5: The club has called Valley Parade home since their birth. Previously home to Manningham Rugby Club but financial difficulties in 1903 saw them switch code to football and become Bradford City. At its largest point, the stadium had an attendance of 39,146 in 1911 for the FA Cup game against Burnley. Reductions due to safety and modernisation see the current capacity sit at 25,136.

6: A tragic event occurred on 11th May 1985 during the Bradford City v Lincoln City game at Valley Parade. It should have been a time for celebration, but a combination of a discarded cigarette, a 1911 built wooden stand and years of paper and rubbish underneath this stand started a fire which quickly spread. Several mistakes were made, such as lack of fire extinguishers and exits being locked, but within minutes, the stand was a huge inferno. Despite best efforts, 56 people lost their lives in the incident and a further 265 suffered injuries as a result. The sad thing was, there was work planned over the following summer to fix most of the issues, but it didn't arrive in time. The stand had to be rebuilt, with the club having to spend the first part of the following season playing at Huddersfield, Leeds and Odsal Rugby Stadium whilst the work was carried out.

7: Bradford City's record league victory came on 25th August 1928 when they beat Rotherham United 11-1. The biggest losses are 8-0 against Manchester City in May 1927 and 9-1 against Colchester United in December 1961.

8: The record transfer fee the club have paid is £2.5m for David Hopkins from Leeds United in July 2000. Both Des Hamilton in 1997 and Andy O Brien in 2001 each recouped £2m when they were sold to Newcastle United.

9: The club has played in various combinations of Claret & Amber for most of their history. They received an unexpected windfall thanks to fictional character Harry Potter as fans of the book and film bought the scarves that the club sold as they were the same as the character wore.

10: For such a big club, Bradford City has very few celebrity fans with film director Steve Abbott and the Dalai Lama the only people to loosely pledge their allegiance to the Bantams.


Bradford away was one of the trips I had been looking forward to visiting. The curry capital of the UK and a ground I hadn’t seen a game at (although I did get a few pictures of the outside of the ground when passing through once) I decided to stay overnight in Bradford and it was about 10 when we left, due to my mate Paul having to get his wages out of his Mum’s bank account. After listening to him moan that his work had ripped him off (which they had) we were on our way.

As usual, I visited a few grounds on the way up. Long Buckby was the first stop. Original club of Notts Forest star Gary Birtles and suspected tornado destination according to this week's papers. Fortunately, the weather held out…just, apart from some light drizzle. Next up was Oadby, getting to and from which was an unexpected nightmare. Due to the roadworks on the “Pork Pie Roundabout” meant that a 20-minute trip took an hour more than that. It would have been longer but for a late dive through the lights, saving another long wait. As per usual, the workmen were standing around doing nothing. Near neighbours South Normanton Athletic and Sutton Town were next up, Sutton’s being a nice modern stadium and a friendly club too, chatting to their first team manager who was sorting out the ground for the game on Saturday, such is the way of life at that level. Stocksbridge Park Steels was last on my list for the day and was the best ground of the lot. A good terrace and a big enough stand for the Unibond League. Nicely kept too and a good pitch. It a pleasant drive up to the ground too, through loads of little streets with some very nice English countryside to look at.

After fighting traffic on the M1 and M62 we finally got to Bradford at around 5. Traffic had added at least 2 hours on the journey which was mightily annoying. We went out for a Curry at the excellent Kashmir on Morley Street. – Chicken Tikka Kebab, Samosas, 2 Naan’s, 2 popadoms, Chicken Dhansak and Chicken Curry plus a couple of drinks set us back just £18.60 between us – remarkable value. After a couple of pints at a local pub, we went back to the hotel in eager anticipation of the game and trying to think of a song for our new Polish keeper.

The following morning, after a hearty English Breakfast I set off for the game, visiting Farsley Celtic, Thackley, Eccleshill United and Bradford Park Avenue. After a look about town, I made my way up to the impressive Valley Parade. Wycombe's team news saw Frank Fielding selected in favour of our Polish compatriot, which the Bradford PA announcer had great fun trying to pronounce. Jermaine Easter was missing, replaced by John Sutton. Sutton was a bit disappointing again, doubts over the quality of SPL defenders must be prevalent amongst the Wycombe fans as Sutton has failed to make any impact since joining Wycombe. I personally think that once he gets his first goal many more will follow. Wycombe won 1-0 with a goal from Scott McGleish. It was a brilliant performance with everyone playing their part. It would be unfair to single out a man of the match but take your pick form Torres, McGleish or Johnson who were all exceptional.

(The above was a report on my original 'Chairboys Forever' blog which covered my Wycombe games during the 2007-08 season and which is now long gone)

I also made a subsequent visit in 2011, though don't recall a lot about the game or day, aside from us losing 1-0.

VISIT 3: BRADFORD 1-2 WYCOMBE (L1 25/8/18)

As ever, I was looking to do revisits watching Wycombe at grounds that I’d not done for a while and therefore not done a proper blog on. Bradford City was one of those and like Doncaster, my last away game, it was a fantastic place for drinking. I’d be going on the Independent Supporters coach though and so, I’d be missing out. They did at least choose a decent looking place in Dewsbury, The Leggers Inn, as their pre-match stop. This did the Yorkshire speciality of hot pork pie and peas and they also had a reasonable selection of drinks to choose from.

The night before I’d been out groundhopping, watching a game in the FA Cup at US Portsmouth where Sholing won 3-1. Though I was back by 11.30, I didn’t go to sleep until 2 am so I was a bit jaded when I awoke at 7 the next morning. I got dressed and got my things together before walking down the local shop, buying a paper and also half a chicken for my breakfast. I met my Dad at the coach stop and we were soon on our way. It was a lengthy journey, but I’d bought plenty to keep me occupied. It was a decent value journey at £27 and as my Dad had treated me to my ticket, it was a reasonably priced day out. We got to the pub just after 12, my first pint was a Valley Gold by Pure North which was pleasant, but a bit too sweet. Dinner was decent enough, though the pork pie was not as good as ones I’ve had at Ossett Albion and Shelley. After that, I had another pint of the same cider, as well as a Belgian cherry beer. It was still a fair way to the ground, so we left at 1.45, making our way through the winding roads of various West Yorkshire towns. We got to Valley Parade just before 2.30 and as there wasn’t much right near the ground, I went straight in.

We were in the side stand, rather than behind the goal which meant we got a cracking view in a great ground. I met fellow hopper Anwar and his son Hicham and we made plans for Monday when we are doing a bank holiday double at Peacehaven & Telscombe and Eastbourne Borough. Wycombe started brilliantly, controlling the game and restricting Bradford to scraps. We took the lead on 28 minutes - Joe Jacobson’s corner was met at the back post with a header by Craig Mackail-Smith. It sent the visiting support into raptures and thankfully we didn’t do our trademark of sticking 10 men behind the ball to try and defend the lead. CMS nearly got in again and despite the hosts having a good spell towards the end of the half, we were firmly in control at the break. Bryn Morris had been having a good game, the best since his loan move from Shrewsbury. On 52 minutes he got Wycombe’s second, a bit of a scrappy one as his deflected shot found the back of the net following a good setup by Matt Bloomfield. From then on, it was Bradford on top, even so, they didn’t really look like scoring. That was until the last minute when Luca Colville’s low shot reduced the arrears and from then on it was a nervous finish.

The players rightfully got a great reception at the end from the Wycombe support who didn’t stop singing all game. At the time of writing this, I, not sure what the official number was, but it looked a good few hundred. I made my way back to the coach in high spirits, wishing that I could have gone for a couple of pints to celebrate. Instead, it was a long journey home which went a lot quicker than it would have done had we lost. I listened to football phone-ins and typed my blog to kill time. I also edited today’s photos on my laptop, though resisted against updating my blog as it kept resetting itself for no reason. We made good time, stopping at Warwick services for a brief break. We eventually got back around 9.30. I was considering going to a beer festival on the way back but instead went straight home due to time constraints. I had a couple of cans while watching the Football League highlights and Match Of The Day, also updating this blog.


VALLEY PARADE is an excellent ground that has served in the Premiership and despite Bradford's excellent support, the 25,000 capacity is rarely filled. 19,000 of that is made up by the Kop End and the Main Stand with the stands joined in one corner. On one side of the pitch is the Midland Road Stand, with a  capacity of around 4000. It has no pillars to block your view and for a while, one end of it was given to away fans. Completing the set is a double-decker affair called the TJ Dallas Stand, this is often given to the away fans. Views are variable and tend to be better from the upper tier.  At the ground are a number of nice memorial features, dedicated to those who lost their lives in the 1985 Bradford Fire and these are well worth a look and to pay your respects. The club shop is decent, bigger than the vast majority of League 1 clubs. 

Food wise, the food at the ground is the usual dull and overpriced fare that you'd expect in the Football League. The excellent city of Bradford is a short walk away and with the city being famous for its Indian Restaurants, my pick is The Kashmir which is very cheap and the food is good too. For drinkers, there is not a huge amount near the ground, as it is a predominantly an Asian area. There's a great choice in the city though and for those who like real ale and cider, I can recommend Jacobs Beer House, The Fighting Cock and the Wetherspoons called Turls Green.