At times, it’s easy to forget that Greg Abbott isn’t a Bradfordian, such is the passion and love he has for Bradford City and all that surrounds the club.
Confirmation arrived from the club on Friday that Abbott would be ending his spell with the club, stepping away from his role as head of recruitment and, more recently, assistant coach to both Michael Collins and David Hopkin.
Club politics is not in the Bantams Heritage mission statement – but as the last three years of Abbott’s time in an off-field capacity understandably is fresh in the memories of all City fans, it only feels right to also celebrate one of the most committed, dedicated and hard-working careers you are ever likely to see play out in BD8.
Abbott was a 19-year-old, wet behind the ears teenager when he left hometown club Coventry to try and crack the professional game. He settled in Bradford in 1982, and wouldn’t leave until almost a decade later, having played a part in some of the club’s most successful – and devastating – moments.
Despite signing in the summer of 1982, it would be a full eight months before Abbott made his Bradford City debut, earning Heritage Number 727 when he featured in the 3-1 defeat to Plymouth Argyle.
Abbott was in and out of the team for the remainder of the 1982-83 campaign, before becoming a more permanent fixture the following season, making 32 appearances in all competitions – most crucially in a variety of different positions. Throughout the season, Abbott appeared at right-back, right-wing and even from the bench as his utility became a crucial part of Trevor Cherry’s early success.
And when Cherry’s side stormed to the Division Three title in 1984-85, Abbott was at the heart of it. He missed only four games all season, and was present in his now-familiar position of right-back on the club’s darkest hour on May 11, 1985.
Abbott’s consistency and versatility was just as important in Division Two; with City playing home games on the road, Abbott this time missed only three games in 1985-86 as City consolidated themselves in the Second Division, with a 13th-placed finish.
Though he spent a lot of time in defence during his 300-plus game career for the Bantams, Abbott was always reliable for a goal too. In fact, Greg is 29th on the club’s all-time leading scorers list with 48 goals: which wasn’t bad for a utility player!
And as City built to a club that moved to the brink of the First Division in the late-1980s, Abbott was still very much part of the furniture at Valley Parade. Greats of that era such as Stuart McCall, John Hendrie and more had moved on to try their hand elsewhere: Abbott remained loyal to the cause, and stuck with City until after the turn of the decade.
Though City had been relegated back to Division Three by that time, Abbott was still influential in his final season with the club, making 34 appearances as the Bantams finished 8th.
That summer however, Abbott reportedly fell out with then-manager John Docherty, just one season short of qualifying for a Bradford City testimonial. Few players have deserved one as much as Abbott did given what he helped Bradford City achieve. He left City in the summer of 1991 having totalled 281 league appearances for the Bantams; for context, only 17 players of the 1200+ that have made a senior appearance for City have made more.
Whatever has happened in the last two years, Greg Abbott will always be a bonafide Bradford City legend. The numbers speak volumes themselves – and that is before you consider the way with which Greg Abbott took the city and its football club to his heart. All the best with whatever comes next Greg, and thanks for the memories in claret and amber. You’re one of our greats – and you’re forever an honorary Bradfordian.