The best-performing managers in Bradford City history

45 men have held the distinction of managing Bradford City in competitive football on a permanent basis. A small handful of those – namely Peter O’Rourke and Stuart McCall – have done so on more than one occasion, while others have enjoyed vastly-contrasting reigns in the Valley Parade dugout.

That is underlined by the win percentage ratios of all the 45 men that have held the job; from Robert Campbell in 1903 through to Gary Bowyer in the present day. Here, in reverse order, are the five best-performing managers in the Valley Parade dugout.

5. George Mulhall (November 1978-March 1981)
Record as Bradford City manager (all competitions)
Played: 124 Won: 52 Drew: 33 Lost: 39
Win Percentage: 41.94%

Former Halifax Town manager George Mulhall’s time in charge of Bradford City ultimately didn’t end with promotion: that came via his successor in the post, Roy McFarland. But the work Mulhall did during his time in charge at Valley Parade certainly laid the groundwork for the era of Bantam Progressivism.

Mulhall was the man who signed Bobby Campbell from Halifax, transforming him from an erratic striker into a goal-scoring legend in claret and amber. Peter Jackson was also blooded under Mulhall’s stewardship, and would go on to captain the club to promotion just a few years later. Les Chapman was another fine piece of business from Mulhall, and though he left the Valley Parade dugout in March 1981, he had laid the groundwork for what would follow across the 1980s.

4. Jack Barker (May 1946-January 1947)
Record as Bradford City manager (all competitions)
Played: 23 Won: 10 Drew: 6 Lost: 7
Win Percentage: 43.48%

Jack Barker did not have a long stint at Bradford City, but the first man to lead City in competitive football post-World War Two did bring some short-term success to the club.

At the time of his resignation in January 1947, Barker was the shortest-reigning manager in Bradford City history: yet the fact he is still fourth-highest successful in terms of win percentage makes his decision to leave all the more perplexing.

=2. Fred Westgarth (March 1938-July 1943)
Record as Bradford City manager (all competitions)
Played: 60 Won: 30 Drew: 13 Lost: 17
Win Percentage: 50%

World War Two ultimately deprived Bradford City fans of the opportunity to see how far Fred Westgarth could take the club. Westgarth stabilised the club after a turbulent 1930s, and even brought a piece of silverware to Valley Parade, too.

The 1938-39 Division Three North Challenge Cup remains the last trophy City won, some 80 years on from Westgarth leading the Paraders to success. He stayed with City for most of the war as City sides filled with guest players and temporary signings competed in the Wartime Leagues, but in 1943, he stunned the club’s board by announcing he was returning north to take the managerial post at Hartlepools United.

=2. Terry Dolan (January 1987-January 1989)
Record as Bradford City manager (all competitions)
Played: 76 Won: 38 Drew: 18 Lost: 20
Win Percentage: 50%

Under Terry Dolan, Bradford City came desperately close to reaching the promised land of Division One football after a wait of over 60 years. They fell just short of that goal, losing to Middlesbrough in the 1987-88 play-offs: but Dolan remains a popular figure at Valley Parade to this day.

He had a tough job taking over from the hugely-popular Trevor Cherry, but assembled an exciting side that were a joy to watch during his time in charge. The disappointment of losing in the play-offs in 1988 resulted in a number of big names leaving however, and Dolan left the following January. He still holds a mightily impressive win percentage of one win in two in all competitions, though.

1. Roy McFarland (May 1981-November 1982)
Record as Bradford City manager (all competitions)
Played: 82 Won: 46 Drew: 21 Lost: 15
Win Percentage: 56.10%

Roy McFarland’s Bradford City were one of the most popular sides in the club’s history – but the acrimonious departure of the manager 18 months after he took charge still leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of many supporters to this day.

City broke a number of records on their way to a 2nd-placed finish in Division Four that secured promotion. under McFarland during his first season in charge. McFarland even stabilised the club in Division Three during the early months of the 1982-83 season: before his former club Derby came calling in a hugely controversial episode.

McFarland and assistant Mick Jones stunned the board when they handed in their resignations in November 1982, and after a lengthy dispute, the Rams eventually had to shell lout a significant compensation package for the services of the City manager and his assistant. It was a highly-tempered end to a managerial reign that will always be overshadowed with controversy.

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