Bradford City team of the decade: the goalkeepers

Voting is on the Bantams Heritage Twitter account (click here).

#1064: Jon McLaughlin
City appearances: 145

Signed by Bradford City before the turn of the decade, Jon McLaughlin signed for the Bantams in the summer of 2008 from non-league side Harrogate Town. He didn’t make his debut for the club until the final game of the 2008-09 season, but thereafter, he slowly became a mainstay of the City side for years to come.

The arrival of Phil Parkinson as manager coincided with McLaughlin becoming first-choice at City, and he played a prominent role during Parkinson’s first season in charge, 2011-12. He was in a tough battle with veteran keeper Matt Duke for the number one shirt during the historic 2012-13 campaign, and while Duke started all-but one of the games in the run to the League Cup final that season, McLaughlin did come off the bench against Swansea in the final when Duke was sent off.

McLaughlin was in net when City won promotion via the play-off final in May 2013, and he had the distinction of being a league ever-present for City the following season, as the Bantams solidified their place in League One with an 11th-placed finish. However, at the end of the 2013-14 season, McLaughlin left the club after failing to agree a new contract, having made 145 appearances for City in all competitions.

#1121: Matt Duke
City appearances: 52

The cry of ‘Duuuuke’ from Bradford City supporters became an all-too familiar presence during the history-making 2012-13 campaign. One of Phil Parkinson’s first signings as manager, the former Burton and Hull City keeper actually spent a spell out on loan at Northampton before returning to Valley Parade and establishing himself as first-choice by the time the 2012-13 season kicked off.

Duke and Jon McLaughlin shared the keeping duties in the league fairly evenly over the course of that campaign, but it was in the League Cup where he became very much first-choice. Duke started all-but one of the games in the run to the final that year, with his penalty shootout saves against Wigan in round four crucial to say the least.

Duke was equally impressive against fellow Premier League sides Aston Villa and Arsenal, and it was perhaps unfortunate he was sent off in the final itself against Swansea. Nonetheless, his exploits between the sticks at City remain fondly remembered to this day – even if his time with the club came to an end shortly after the 2012-13 season concluded.

#1178 Ben Williams
City appearances: 77

Initially signed as backup for first-choice goalkeeper – and future England international – Jordan Pickford at the start of the 2014-15 season, the terms of Pickford’s loan deal from Sunderland meant that Ben Williams would instantly become the go-to goalkeeper for any cup games Bradford City played that season. He certainly made a sizeable impact whenever called upon.

Just two years on from the club’s unforgettable run to the final of the League Cup, Williams is as fondly remembered as the likes of Matt Duke for how well he performed between the sticks as City went on another memorable cup run, this time reaching the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. In fact, by the time he first started a league game for the Bantams, he had already helped create some more unforgettable cup moments for City supporters.

Williams was between the sticks as City knocked Leeds out of the League Cup in August 2014, before featuring in every single one of the Bantams’ FA Cup victories that season – including the 4-2 win at soon-to-be crowned Premier League champions Chelsea. His form was sufficient enough for City to hand him the number one shirt the following season, and he made 52 appearances – including 45 in the league – as City fell narrowly short of promotion during Parkinson’s final season in charge. He left the club in the summer of 2016, signing for Bury, having helped the Bantams to a club record 27 clean sheets in league and cup matches that season.

#1206: Colin Doyle
City appearances: 88

Infamously costing Bradford City just £1 following a summer transfer from Blackpool, Colin Doyle became an integral part of the side that came desperately close to promotion to the Championship under Stuart McCall: with his form undoubtedly a major reason why City made the play-offs in the 2016-17 campaign.

Doyle missed just two league games during his first season as a City player, making 50 appearances in total as the Bantams were eventually denied promotion by Millwall in the play-off final at Wembley. He remained Stuart McCall’s first-choice goalkeeper the following season, playing another 38 times – but an injury which ruled him out for two months coincided with the collapse in form that cost McCall his job.

He infamously played twice in 24 hours in March 2018, featuring for Ireland on a Friday evening before catching an early-morning flight back to Bradford to play for City – and at the end of the 2017-18 campaign, he was reportedly offered a new contract, but did not agree terms.

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