There is a familiar face across town at Bradford Park Avenue, following confirmation from our Wool City rivals this week that former City winger Garry Thompson will become the new player-manager of the non-league club.
Thompson will join a select group of players to have featured for both Bradford clubs at some stage throughout his playing career if and when he makes his Avenue debut next season – but an even smaller bracket of footballers have actually crossed the divide and transferred directly between the two clubs in the history of the professional game in the city. Here’s a look at all those players – starting with some of the most famous – with heritage numbers included.
#627: Bobby Ham
Left Avenue in 1968 to join City
Arguably the most famous footballer to cross the divide in the Wool City rivalry’s history. Ham had the unique honour of playing professionally for both Bradford clubs across several different spells throughout his career, but in 1968, at the conclusion of his second stint with Avenue, he crossed the divide to join City for a fee of £2,750.
He infamously became the first Bradfordian to finish a season as top-scorer for the Bantams, and ultimately scored on 70 occasions for City across his two spells with the club as a player, placing him 10th on the club’s all-time goalscoring list.
#623: Pat Liney
Left Avenue in 1967 to join City, then left City in 1972 to return to Avenue
Not only did Scottish goalkeeper Pat Liney transfer between the two Bradford clubs on one occasion, in 1967, but he did so again five years later: a unique feat in the Wool City rivalry’s history.
Liney initially made his name north of the border with Dundee and St Mirren, before transferring to Avenue in 1967, during their final years as a Football League club. Liney stayed with Avenue for two years after their exit from the league, before joining City in 1972 for £3,000.
After 166 appearances for City in all competitions across a five-year spell, the goalkeeper then returned to non-league football with Avenue.
#6: John Halliday
Left City in 1907 to manage – and play for – Avenue
Full-back John Halliday has a unique place in Bradford City’s history, having played in the club’s first-ever match in September 1903. Of the 11 players who played against Grimsby that day, only three would make more appearances for the Bantams than Halliday, who featured for the club 74 times.
However, at the age of 27, Halliday opted to cross the divide and take up the managerial post at Bradford Park Avenue. He actually played for them on a solitary occasion too – as a goalkeeper! Legend has it that regular goalkeeper Tom Baddersley failed to get to Avenue’s trip to Swindon on time, so Halliday filled in between the sticks. He left Avenue the following season to manage Brentford; something he would do on three separate occasions.
#687: Terry Dolan
Left City in 1969 to join Avenue
It is well-known to many that Terry Dolan played for – and had involvement off the field – with both Bradford clubs: but perhaps less fondly remembered that he crossed the Bradford divide as a teenager in the late-1960s.
Dolan had signed schoolboy terms with City, having excelled as a promising sportsman in his junior years. However, in 1968, Dolan opted to cross the city and join Avenue instead, who were in their final years as a Football League club by this point. Dolan left for Huddersfield when Avenue dropped out of the league in 1970, before returning to his first club in 1976: where he would enjoy great success as a player and a manager.
From Avenue to City
#294: Irvine Harwood: Left Avenue in 1932 to join City, #353: James Robertson: Left Avenue in 1938 to join City, #518: Geoff Hudson: Left Avenue in 1957 to join City
From City to Avenue
#338: John Gallon: Left City in 1938 to join Avenue, #349: John Padgett: Left City in 1938 to join Avenue, #420: Richard Conroy: Left City in 1953 to join Avenue, #586: Alan Rhodes: Left City in 1965 to join Avenue, #629: Tony Leighton: Left City in 1970 to manage Avenue, #638: Norman Corner: Left City in 1972 to join Avenue, #827: Wayne Benn: Left City in 1996 to join Avenue, #1012: Simon Ainge: Left City in 2009 to join Avenue.