Bradford City, the FA Cup first round and non-league meetings

On Saturday afternoon, Bradford City enter the FA Cup at the first round stage for the 83rd time in the club’s history.- looking to improve a more-than-favourable record at this stage of the competition.

In all, City have progressed to Round Two on 50 occasions out of the previous 82 attempts – including last year, when they made it to Round Three. They have been eliminated, either via replay or in one tie, a total of 32 times.

Here is a closer look at some of the more memorable first round ties, as well as a preview of our history with Aldershot and ties against non-league opposition at this stage of the cup.

Early mishaps

City were forced to go through the qualifying rounds in the first three years of their existence. In 1903-04, Robert Campbell’s side scored 14 goals in wins against Rockingham Colliery, Mirfield United and Worksop before being eliminated by Chesterfield.

The following season, they met prominent non-league side Millwall Athletic, who had already reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup twice, in 1900 and 1903. City were beaten 4-0 in the last round – the Intermediate Round – before Round One. Next year, they did reach the FA Cup proper, going all the way to Round Three.


As most City fans know, the 1910-11 cup run ended with the Bantams lifting the trophy for the first and only time in the club’s history.

One of their biggest scares along the way, however, came in Round One when we squeezed past non-league side New Brompton (now known as Gillingham) 1-0. Wins against Norwich, Grimsby, Burnley, Blackburn and, as we know, Newcastle via a replay, followed.

Big Round One Wins

In what is hopefully a good omen for Saturday City have been able to put non-league sides to the sword quite convincingly in the past.

Prime examples are plentiful. In 1927-28, a crowd of 14,579 were at Valley Parade to watch part-time side Workington AFC be sent out 6-0.

In 1937-38, now-defunct side Walker Celtic – based in the north east – celebrated reaching the First Round Proper for the only time in the club’s history by drawing City. Incredibly, they held the Bantams to a 1-1 draw at in Walker, meaning a replay at Valley Parade.

However, Jack Deakin and Roland Bartholomew both scored four times as the Bantams ran out 11-3 winners! It is one of only two occasions when City have scored 11 in a game; the other an 11-1 win against Rotherham in the league in 1928.

Exits to Non-League Sides

While City’s record in cup competitions in recent years has been about upsetting the odds, there have been occasions where the Bantams have been victims of an upset themselves.

The 1960s were a fallow period for the Bantams, forced to re-apply for their league position twice alone during that decade. Fortunes in the FA Cup were no better; with the nadir the first round exit to non-league side Scarborough FC in 1964-65.

Modern-Day Non-League Opposition

There were two more notable meetings with non-league opposition in Round One as the 1980s began. City’s meeting with Brandon United – the first time the County Durham-based side had reached the first round – was actually moved to neutral territory, namely Spennymoor United’s Brewery Field ground by order of the FA.

It was a happy hunting ground for City, who won 3-0. Five years later came arguably the Bantams’ most infamous non-league opposition, when Trevor Cherry’s all-conquering Division Three champions were drawn at home to Tow Law Town.

Tow Law, famous for being the first team of future City midfielder Chris Waddle before he joined Newcastle, were beaten 7-2 – with an illustrious list of goalscorers: McCall, Hendrie, Campbell (2), Goodman (3).

Recent FA Cup First Round Ties

When City were promoted to Division One in 1996, it meant an almost decade-long exile from the first round due to not having to enter until Round Three.

However, in the last five years, City have faced non-league opposition at this stage twice. We played Saturday’s opposition, Aldershot, in 2015 – Greg Leigh and Tony McMahon scoring the goals in a 2-0 win at home in a replay following a 0-0 draw at Aldershot.

12 months earlier, City’s legendary run to the quarter-finals began with a clash against non-league opposition. City fell behind to FC Halifax Town early on, before goals from Filipe Morais and Jon Stead set up a Round Two tie with Dartford.

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