Bradford City team of the decade: the centre-backs

Voting is on the Bantams Heritage Twitter account (click here). The top two centre-backs will make the team.

#1139: Rory McArdle
City appearances: 231
City goals: 15

Signed from Scottish club Aberdeen on the eve of Phil Parkinson’s first full season in charge of Bradford City, Rory McArdle would go on to play a part in almost all of the club’s modern-day success.

The centre-half, who became famous for his iconic celebration, had a knack of not only being a real presence in City’s backline, but coming up with crucial goals at exactly the right time for the Bantams, too. That was evident as early as his debut season for the club, when he not only scored in the play-off final win against Northampton, but the League Cup semi-final triumph over Aston Villa, too.

McArdle featured in 41 of City’s first 46 games back in League One in 2013-14, with all three of the goals he scored that season earning City vital points along the way. He featured in every game for the club on the way to the League Cup final in 2012-13, a feat he would replicate in 2014-15 as City made it to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

McArdle featured in all eight games as City were eventually knocked out by Reading, with his form that season earning him the player of the year award. The arrival of Stuart McCall in his final season as a Bantam saw him initially struggle to break into the side – but typically, McArdle battled his way into McCall’s plans, scoring the only goal in the play-off semi-final win over Fleetwood. His final game for the club was at Wembley, as the Bantams were beaten by Millwall, before he signed for fellow League One side Scunthorpe.

#1124: Andrew Davies
City appearances: 125
City goals: 7

One of Phil Parkinson’s first signings as Bradford City manager, Andrew Davies’ start to life at Valley Parade started in fairly low-key fashion, getting sent off in consecutive league games! By the time he departed the club several years later, however, he had solidified his status as a modern-day great in claret and amber.

Davies formed a rock-solid partnership with Rory McArdle during the club’s history-making 2012-13 season in the league, though injuries limited him to just two appearances in the run to the League Cup final; one of those was from the bench in the final itself.

Critics will argue that Davies’ time as a City player was marred by injury too often, but it is indisputable that whenever he did play, he was a huge presence. That was underlined by the role he played in City’s run to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup in 2014-15, when he played in six of the eight games. Perhaps crucially, one of the two he missed was the 3-0 defeat to Reading in the quarter-final replay.

#1209: Romain Vincelot
City appearances: 94
City goals: 7

No player perhaps epitomised the new era which arrived at Bradford City in the summer of 2016 more than Romain Vincelot.

Signed as the club’s new captain for the 2016-17, the popular Frenchman was equally comfortable in both defence or midfield: but it was at the back where he became a firm favourite for many during a season which ended with defeat in the play-off final to Millwall.

Vincelot missed just one league game out of the 49 City played (including play-offs) that season; and that was on the final day of the regular season, with City’s place in the top six already secure. No player made more appearances in all competitions in 2016-17 than the 51 Vincelot made, underlining his importance to manager Stuart McCall.

He made another 43 appearances the following season. City started it brightly – with Vincelot at the heart of that early-season success – but when a bad run of reuslts cost McCall his job, City’s play-off push dissipiated. It left the Bantams finishing mid-table and, at the end of the season, Vincelot left for pastures new.

#1214: Matt Kilgallon
City appearances: 58
City goals: 5

Former Leeds and Sheffield United defender Matt Kilgallon’s two seasons with Bradford City were contrasting to say the least. His first campaign with the club, 2016-17, saw him limited to just a handful of appearances in all competitions for numerous reasons: not least the form of Romain Vincelot and Rory McArdle.

However, with McArdle departing in the summer of 2017, it afforded Kilgallon an opportunity to stake his claim for a place in Stuart McCall’s plans. He would not disappoint, missing only four league games all season and eventually earning the club’s player of the year award in the process.

Kilgallon was undoubtedly the real shining light in a 2017-18 season that ended in frustration for Bantams supporters. However, that summer, he had an infamous fallout with the club’s hierachy and left to agree a deal in Scotland with Hamilton.

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