Over the course of the summer leading into the new season, Bantams Heritage will be looking back at some lesser-known stars of City teams pre-World War Two.
Only three men have played a full international for England while simultaneously being contracted to Bradford City. It is a very exclusive club, featuring only James Conlin, Evelyn Lintott and one other man: the late, great Dicky Bond.
Over 110 years on from Bond’s Bradford City debut, the fact only 12 men have surpassed his total of 301 league appearances underlines how he truly should be regarded as one of the Paraders’ greatest-ever players: and one of the real heroes of our early years. His story as a Bradford City player, however, is far more interesting than just the numbers.
Bond could – and perhaps should – have been immortalised as one of the 11 men to bring the FA Cup back to Bradford in 1911. Regarded by many early football historians as England’s finest outside right of the early 1900s – underlined by the fact he won numerous caps for England during that time – had he been available, Bond would have played a prominent part in City’s run to cup success that season.
But he wasn’t available. He had already scored the winning goals in the First Round win against New Brompton (now known as Gillingham) and Third Round success against Grimsby – but two weeks earlier, he had been accused of using improper language during a league game at Woolwich Arsenal.
He was hit with a hefty ban by the FA, a ban which ensured he would miss the remainder of City’s FA Cup success, restricting him to the view of frustrated spectator as the Paraders knocked out Burnley and Blackburn on the way to the final. He was available for the final against Newcastle, but by then, Peter O’Rourke perhaps rightly opted to keep faith in the side who had taken the club to their first cup final. Thus, Bond sat it out. Many pictures of the squad that season show Bond sat with his team-mates and the FA Cup: but he was never able to feature in perhaps City’s greatest-ever accomplishment.
And that, given his service to the club during a distinguished 13-year stint which straddled the First World War, was a real shame. Signed by the club from Preston North End in 1909 as O’Rourke looked to build a side capable of competing for the league championship, Bond’s impact on the right was immediate. He missed just two league games as City finished 7th in Division One in 1909-10, but was a much more sporadic presence in the team the following season, in part due to that suspension for his antics at Arsenal.
Bond’s final England caps came during that season, with the player joining Conlin and Lintott as full England internationals while playing for Bradford City. Almost 110 years on, nobody has managed to achieve that since.
The Paraders remained a solid, albeit unspectacular, First Division side in both the years before and after World War One – and Bond was consistently at the heart of the club’s progression under Peter O’Rourke – but his footballing career was heavily interrupted by the war.
Bond was a member of the infamous Bradford Pals throughout, surviving the significant losses the regiment suffered during the Battle of the Somme. However, in 1916, he was taken as a Prisoner of War and spent the final two years of the war in a camp in Germany, before being repatriated in November 1918, just days after the conclusion of the war.
He returned to City for the 1919-20 season, and the following year was made captain of the club by new manager David Menzies. His 300th league appearance came in a 2-1 win against Newcastle in April 1921 but by then, City’s time in Division One was coming to an end. He played just one more time for the club, and left at the end of that season to return to his native Lancashire, signing for Blackburn Rovers.
Bond may well have had to sit out Bradford City’s greatest-ever victory, but the impact he had on that squad during some of the club’s glory years should never be overlooked. Without Dicky Bond’s goals earlier in the cup run, the Paraders may never have made it to the latter stages at all.
Bond passed away in 1955 at the age of 71, but should forever be regarded as a Bradford City legend.
Born: 14 December 1883
Died: 25 April 1955
City appearances: 332
City goals: 72
England caps: 8
England goals: 2
13th on club’s all-time league appearances list with 301.