Bantams Heritage can announce that four more former players from the club’s past have been awarded heritage numbers – with the criteria over which cup competitions do and do not count towards recognised appearances now both extended and finally clarified.
Goalkeeper Mel Gwinnett, forward Michael Guy, goalkeeper Andrew Burton and POSITION Martin Pattison are now all officially recognised as former Bradford City first-team players with their official heritage numbers, a project both supported and endorsed by the club.
Upon the launch of the Bantams Heritage project late last year, it was initially determined that only League, FA Cup, League Cup and Football League Trophy fixtures would be the only competitions throughout history in which players were eligible to appear in for them to receive a heritage number.
Since then, the club’s Intertoto Cup campaign of 2000 has also been included – and now, following discussions with several club historians and knowledgable supporters, it has been accepted that the Football League Group Cup, the Division Three (North) Challenge Cup, the Associate Members Cup and the Full Members Cup will now all be included. That means the full list of recognised competitions are:
- FA Cup
- League Cup
- Football League/EFL Trophy/Associate Members Cup
- Full Members Cup
- Division Three (North) Challenge Cup)
- Intertoto Cup/European Football
Essentially, these are now all the competitions the club has featured in throughout its history that are deemed competitive, first-team games. This decision has been made due to the unanimous decision from a group of historians and statisticians that these fixtures should be recognised with as much importance and reputation as a current competition such as the Football League Trophy, and that they were all competitions in which City’s first-team participated alongside teams from at least their own division or more.
Gwinnett, Guy, Burton and Pattison did not feature in a league game for Bradford City, but did play in one or more of the aforementioned cup competitions. Here are some more details on those competitions, how City performed in them and why they are now recognised as official in relation to the Heritage Numbers project.
Full Members Cup
The Full Members Cup was a competition created to fill the void left by British football’s ban from European competition following the Heysel disaster. It was specifically for Division One and Division Two teams, and City played in it on five occasions; the first edition of 1985-86, through to 1989-90, the year City were relegated back to Division Three.
It may be more commonly known to some fans by the many sponsorship names it held; including the Simod Cup, and the Zenith Data Systems Cup. The furthest stage City reached was Round 4 in 1987-88, when Reading defeated the Bantams in extra-time.
The Football League Group Cup
Widely considered to be the forerunner of what is now the Football League Trophy/EFL Trophy, the Football League Group Cup replaced the Anglo-Scottish Cup after it was withdrawn in 1980-81. It existed in its format for a solitary season before being rebranded the Football League Trophy: and City participated, reaching the quarter-finals, losing to Shrewsbury on penalties.
The playing debut of Roy McFarland is now officially recognised by Bantams Heritage as having taken place in this competition – while Guy and Burton’s one and only competitive first-team games were in the tournament, too.
Division Three (North) Challenge Cup
The Football League introduced regional cup competitions as far back as 1933, when Division Three was still split into two: north and south. Both divisions got their own cup, as well as the league – but City didn’t enter for the first time until 1937. As the Football League requested teams to play as strong a team as possible, and it was against teams from the same division, it only feels right to recognise this as an official and proper competition.
Another reason to recognise this is that it yielded City’s second – and most recent – major cup triumph when the Paraders won the 1938-39 edition. They had reached the final the previous season in their first venture into the competition, before avenging the defeat to Southport that season by beating Accrington 3-0 in the final the following campaign. A crowd of just 3,117 watched the game!
It did not return following the end of World War Two and the conclusion of regular league football.
Competitions Not Recognised: and Why
Despite those inclusions, Bantams Heritage – in conjunction with club historians – agree that some other tournaments the club has played in should not be recognised as official, competitive first-team fixtures.
Wartime football remains on that list, for reasons explained in the past. There were so few officially contracted footballers, and so many guests owing to soldiers who were stationed temporarily in the local area, that it would be wrong to sanction those players heritage numbers alongside players who officially represented City in a competitive game.
Furthermore, competitions like the West Riding Challenge Cup, when the opposition was predominantly limited to local, non-league teams such as Mirfield United and Heckmondwike, are understandably also ruled out.
The West Riding County Senior Cup also had limited opposition, and although that was often league teams, the fact it was played by only West Yorkshire-based teams makes this ineligible for consideration in the eyes of both Bantams Heritage and those consulted.
The new competitions included will be recognised under an ‘Other Cups’ column.