The very nature of the rebuild at Bradford City on the field last summer meant there would be a rise in the number of debutants this season: but the Bantams are heading for a record number handed out in one single league season.
As of January 22, 2019, both Michael Collins and David Hopkin have awarded 24 first-time appearances for Bradford City already this season. Those players, in order, are:
Hope Akpan, Eoin Doyle, Kelvin Mellor, George Miller, Anthony O’Connor, Richard O’Donnell, Jack Payne, Joe Riley, Sean Scannell, Sherwin Seedorf, Josh Wright, Luca Colville, Ben Wilson, Connor Wood, David Ball, Lewis O’Brien, Thomas Isherwood, Jim O’Brien, Eliot Goldthorp, Raeece Ellington, Paul Caddis, Karl Henry, Paudie O’Connor and Jermaine Anderson.
Research into the club’s history shows that’s already a record. In the opening two months of a league season, never before have so many debuts been issued – including City’s inaugural season of 1903/04, when every player who appeared was inevitably making their debut.
In fact, in only nine seasons before have City handed out over 20 debuts in a season, with various circumstances dictating the reasons why in a number of those. In chronological order, those seasons are:
24 in 1946/47: As the first full season after World War II, it was perhaps inevitable City’s squad needed a post-war overhaul.
21 in 1948/49.
27 in 1996/97: City’s first year in the old Division One saw them hand out a huge number of debuts – including seven alone in March as they just beat the drop.
22 in 2006/07: Typical of seasons of struggle, City broke the 20-debut barrier again in the year they were relegated to League Two.
21 in 2007/08: The rebuild under Stuart McCall saw a second consecutive season with over 20 debuts awarded.
23 in 2009/10: The likes of Matt Glennon and Adam Bolder were among those to debut in this year.
22 in 2010/11: Another season of struggle, and another season with over 20 debutants as City finished 18th in League TWo.
28 in 2011/12: Phil Parkinson’s first season in charge saw him oversee what at present is a record amount of debutants.
22 in 2017/18: An overhaul of the squad that reached the previous year’s play-off final eventually resulted in plenty of debuts.
So, in the middle of the January transfer window, City are already just five debuts short of setting a new all-time record. And there are indicators which could suggest a new record is not beyond Bradford City’s class of 2018/19.
With the arrival of David Hopkin earlier in the season, that will perhaps inevitably result in more debutants as Hopkin seeks to put his stamp on City during to the January transfer window. We have already seen several players debut under Hopkin – it’s highly likely more will follow him through the door.