All posts by Aaron Bower

Bantams Worldwide: The Caribbean (and surrounding areas!) Part One

For such a small part of the world, Bradford City’s history with the countries in the Caribbean is rich, to say the least.

In fact, such a large number of players have come from that part of the world, that this particular instalment of our Bantams Worldwide series has been broken off into two sections. One covers the extensive number of players with Jamaican roots/international records, while this particular instalment is about the players to come from other parts of the Caribbean – including one or two areas which are constantly debated about their presence among the Caribbean islands.

Barbados – Mark McCammon
(#1076, 4 apps, 2010)

A well-travelled player throughout the majority of his career, former Gillingham and Brighton striker arrived at Bradford on loan in February 2010, despite reportedly having reservations about stepping down to join a League Two side, which City were at the time.

Despite being in London, McCammon was already a Barbados international by the time he made his City debut. In all, he played five times for his country, scoring four goals – including a hat-trick in the 7-1 win over Anguilla in 2006, which is Barbados’ biggest-ever win.

He made his debut against Darlington on February 27th, 2010, and went on to make a further three appearances for City without scoring before returning to parent club Gillingham.

Bermuda – Nahki Wells
(#1112, 112 apps, 53 goals, 2011-14)

Had it not been for the presence of one or two greats from a different generation, Nahki Wells would almost certainly be regarded as Bradford City’s greatest overseas player given his contribution to the club.

The signing of Wells by manager Peter Jackson in the summer of 2011 ruffled few feathers. He arrived having just been released by Carlisle, and he didn’t even make his league debut until November that year. Thereafter, however, his career took off.

The arrival of Phil Parkinson coincided with Wells’ formation of a deadly partnership with James Hanson which would subsequently become legendary. He scored 12 times in his first season, prompting City to hand him a new deal. The next year, the infamous history-making campaign of 2012-13, he scored 26 times.

The step up to League One saw him score eight goals in his first seven league games, which inevitably saw the vultures circle. And, in January 2014, Wells left for West Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield. His career has not slowed since then.

Dominica – Joe Cooke
(#654, 303 apps, 79 goals, 1971-79)

Born in Dominica, Joe Cooke arrived at Bradford City in 1970 a teenager. He left almost a decade later an icon. Had the island gained independence earlier than 1978, his international career may too have been as notorious.

One of only a handful of players to make over 300 appearances for Bradford City in all competitions, Cooke thrived for the Bantams at both ends of the pitch, becoming notorious for his ability as both a centre-half and a striker.

Despite spending large periods of his time at City in defence, he still finished with a goals-to-game ratio of around one in four, which is impressive given his positional versatility and the amount of games he played. He returned to City in 1982 for another three seasons, before finishing his professional career with Rochdale and Wrexham.

Grenada – Delroy Facey
(#952, 6 apps, 1 goal, 2002)

Delroy Facey grew up down the road from Bradford in Huddersfield, but he was reportedly eligible to represent a number of nations in the Caribbean region due to family heritage.

He eventually opted to play for Grenada after receiving a call-up in 2009, some seven years on from his brief spell as a Bantam. Facey joined on loan in November 2002, becoming one of the elite club to score on their Bradford City debut when he netted against Wimbledon.

NOTE: The entire list of players to score on their City debut can be viewed here. 

That would be the only time Facey scored in his six games for City though, eventually returning to Bolton. In all, he represented Grenada on 15 occasions, scoring twice.

Saint Kitts and Nevis – Ces Podd
(#647, 568 apps, 4 goals, 1970-84)

Ces Podd is the greatest overseas player Bradford City have ever had. In fact, he’s one of the club’s finest players irrespective of nationality.

Born in Saint Kitts and Nevis, Podd made his debut on the 26th September, 1970 against Chesterfield. He would serve the Bantams with unrivalled distinction for fourteen years thereafter, finishing as the club’s all-time record appearance holder.

On 502 occasions, Podd played league football for Bradford City FC. To put that into context, only three men – Ian Cooper, John Hall and Bruce Stowell – reached 400 league appearances. It is an astonishing number.

In total, Podd racked up 568 appearances in all competitions before leaving for Halifax Town in 1984. He is, without doubt, a true Bradford City legend.

West Indies – Wingrove Manners
(#663, 1 app, 1972)

In City’s game against Bolton Wanderers on the 10th May, 1972, West Indian-born Wingrove Manners became the 66th player to make his one and only appearance for the Bantams.

Bantams Worldwide: Africa

Other editions: Asia, Caribbean (I),

Throughout the entire history of Bradford City – though, admittedly, more often in recent generations – players from a number of different cultures, countries and backgrounds have played for the club.

This series is dedicated to those players – the ones from outside the United Kingdom and Ireland who have donned the famous claret and amber shirt. This time, it’s a look at the players who were born in, or went on to represent, countries in Africa.

Burundi – Mo Shariff
(#1174, 2 apps, 2014)

Looking to build upon the consolation of their League One place following promotion from League Two in 2013, City signed Burundi-born forward Mo Shariff on a deal to try and impress manager Phil Parkinson.

Shariff had already made his league debut while on loan for Dagenham & Redbridge, before a solitary League Cup appearance for parent club QPR prior to joining City.

In all, Shariff made only two appearances for City; his debut came against Morecambe in the first round of that season’s League Cup from the bench, while he made another sub appearance days later in the 0-0 draw with Walsall on August 16, 2014.

Central African Republic – Kelly Youga
(#1021, 11 games, 2007)

Perhaps the most famous Central African Republic footballer to come to Britain, Kelly Youga joined City on loan from Charlton in February 2007.

He joined at a difficult time, as City were well on the road to ultimate relegation to League Two that season, but he did at least make an impression during his 11 games at the Bantams.

His loan spell was cut short due to injury, and he eventually returned to Charlton.

Ivory Coast – Francois Zoko
(#1181, 21 apps, 1 goal, 2014-15)

Midway through City’s second season back in League One, manager Phil Parkinson turned to Blackpool striker Francois Zoko in a bid to boost the striking options and improve upon what had been a fairly inconsistent campaign to that point.

Zoko became the first – and only – Ivorian to represent Bradford City when he debuted from the bench against Leyton Orient on November 29, 2014. He would stay with City for the remainder of the 2014/15 season, making 21 appearances in all competitions.

16 of those came in the league, with City falling just short of the League One play-off places that year, finishing seventh. Zoko scored once – the winning goal in a 1-0 win against Crawley in March 2015.

Nigeria – Dele Adebola
(#981, 16 apps, 4 goals, 2004)

Lagos-born Dele Adebola appeared for over a dozen professional clubs throughout his career, including an eye-catching spell on loan from Coventry with City in 2004.

He arrived just three games into City’s first season since relegation from the Championship, immediately forming a strike partnership with Dean Windass. He scored three times in the league – against Bristol City, MK Dons and Blackpool. City won all three games.

Adebola also scored in his solitary appearance in non-league competition: the 2-1 defeat to Accrington in the Football League Trophy on September 29, 2004. He returned to Coventry in November.

Nigeria – Chib Chilaka 
(#1091, 6 apps, 2010-11)

Nigerian-born Chib Chilaka had an unusual route to Bradford City. After spells with Rushden & Diamonds and Notts County resulted in his release, Chilaka went to university in Hull to study Human Biology.

He spent his time playing non-league for Bridlington and Harrogate Town before his chance came with City at the start of the 2010 season. Chilaka made his debut against Preston on August 24, 2010, going on to make six appearances without scoring in all competitions.

Nigeria – Hope Akpan
(#1248, 2018-present)

One of City’s new additions for the 2018/19 campaign, Hope Akpan was born in England but qualified for Nigeria through his parents.

While at Reading, he declared his intention to try and win a call-up for the Super Eagles: and to date, he has played four times for his country without scoring.

South Africa – Dean Furman
(#1051, 33 apps, 4 goals, 2008-09)

Born in the South African city of Cape Town, Dean Furman played youth football for the likes of Chelsea and Rangers before making a solitary appearance at first-team level for the Gers in 2008.

Then, in August of that year, at the age of 20, Furman was lured to City by former Rangers legend and then-manager Stuart McCall on a six-month loan deal. That deal eventually was extended to the entirety of the 2008-09 season, and Furman formed an effective pairing with Nicky Law for large periods of the campaign. At international level, Furman actually made his South Africa debut while a Bradford City player. He has since played for South Africa over 40 times.

City were so impressed by Furman that they tried to sign him on a permanent deal when he returned to Rangers. However, he opted to sign for Oldham.

Zaire – Guylain Ndumbu-Nsungu
(#1028, 21 apps, 6 goals, 2007)

With City relegated to League Two at the start of the 2007/08 season, new manager Stuart McCall initiated an overhaul of an underperforming squad.

His many new recruits including Kinshasa-born Guylain Ndumbu-Nsungu, who arrived on a loan deal until the start of the New Year.

His immediate impact? Impressive, scoring the equaliser during the 1-1 draw with Macclesfield Town in the 2007/08 season-opener. All in all, he would score six times for City, including a brace against Hereford United – before his loan deal was not extended into 2008.

Zimbabwe – Adam Chicksen
(#1225, 2017-present)

Much like team-mate Hope Akpan, Adam Chicksen was born in England – but qualified for an African country through parentage.

With a Zimbabwean father, Chicksen earned his first call-up in March 2018 – and subsequently made his international debut for The Warriors in their defeat to Zambia in the 2018 Four Nations Tournament.

Brian Close: the cricketing legend who played for Bradford City

Over the course of Bradford City’s rich and illustrious history, many famous names have worn the claret and amber shirt.

Most, if not all, of those have made their name in professional football and become household names in that sport: but over 60 years ago, one of Britain’s – and Yorkshire’s – most revered and respected sportsmen switched professions and had a short-lived spell as a Bradford City player.

Cricketers playing professional football is not completely unique; as most people will know from Ian Botham’s infamous stints at Yeovil and Scunthorpe United in the 1970s and 80s. 30 years earlier, however, Bradford City had their own cricketing legend on the books for a brief period.

Look through our heritage numbers, and you may not see the name Brian Close. That’s because his actual first name was Dennis. By the time the 1952-53 season had begun, Close had already made his Test debut for England and had established himself as a pivotal part of the Yorkshire side – so much so, that legend has it former Bradford MP Maurice Webb championed the case for Close to finish the domestic season with Yorkshire before commencing his National Service.

Close had already dabbled into professional football without success, actually signing for Arsenal in 1950 and became a prominent member of their A team. Close didn’t play at all during the 1950-51 season; he was also serving in the Royal Signals until September 1951.

And his time with Arsenal didn’t play out as expected; Close was reportedly given permission to leave a Yorkshire game early by his captain, Norman Yardley, to play for Arsenal. That decision was later overturned, meaning when Close arrived late for a reserves game against Fulham in April that year, he was unable to take his place on the field. Just days after that, he was informed he would not be retained by the Gunners.

Unperturbed by that, Close earned himself a chance at professional football much closer to his Rawdon roots: signing for the Bantams after the conclusion of the 1952 domestic cricket season, making his City debut on November 1, 1952 against Tranmere Rovers.

Playing centre-forward, Close scored on his next appearance for City in a 2-1 win over Chesterfield a week later – and he would go on to make six appearances for the Bantams in Division Three (North) that season, scoring on two occasions: his other goal in the league coming against Halifax Town on November 29 in a 1-1 draw.

Close was arguably more influential in City’s FA Cup campaign of that season, scoring three times in three appearances. Close scored twice in the 4-0 victory over Rhyl Athletic (now simply known as Rhyl FC) in the first round, before netting again in the second round, when City drew 1-1 with Ipswich at Valley Parade.

Close played in the replay, but City were hammered 5-1 in what was one of Close’s final appearances for the Bantams. He featured against Oldham and Port Vale following that defeat, but it was in that game against Vale when he suffered a serious knee injury which could have been even more damaging than it actually proved to be.

Ultimately, it ended not only Close’s time with City, but his professional football career altogether, Close unable to recover from that and resume his football career.

It even severely limited the amount of cricket he was able to play in the 1953 domestic season too – featuring only twice for Yorkshire throughout that entire campaign.

Thankfully, Close was able to return to cricket at the highest level on a permanent basis – winning back his place in the England Test side and remaining an integral part of Yorkshire’s successes throughout the 1950s, which included the County Championship triumph of 1959. Close then went on to captain the White Rose throughout a period of incredible success, captaining them to another four Championship titles.

He eventually moved onto Somerset, where he is still regarded in cricket for helping to develop a young Botham into the success he became – although quite whether he had an impact on his footballing career after his own time with City is not completely clear!

What is clear though, is that one of the most successful and respected sportsmen of his generation – and one of the finest stars Yorkshire has ever produced – had the distinction of representing Bradford City FC: even if it was for slightly less time than he would have liked.

Close remained in and around cricket for years after retirement. He passed away in 2015.

Heritage No. 474: Dennis Brian Close
Debut: 1/11/1952 v Tranmere
Apps in All Comps: 9 – Goals in All Comps: 5
League Apps: 6 – League Goals: 2
FA Cup Apps: 3 – FA Cup Goals: 3

How many players have scored on their City debut?

A debut goal is an incredibly special moment – and while some of the greatest players in City’s history have achieved that particular feat, some of the more unheralded – and dare we say, forgotten – players of the past have managed to do it, too.

In all, at the time of writing, 96 players have scored on their official, competitive Bradford City debut – the most recent of which is Luca Colville during the League Cup game with Macclesfield Town in 14/8/2018.

You can see a full list by going to the official Heritage Number document and sorting the list’s notes column – but here is a closer look at some of the more famous ones who’ve done it – as well as those who have scored more than once on debut, too.

Players to have scored a hat-trick on debut:
Trevor Edmunds (#253) – City 11-1 Roherham United (25/8/1928)
Cornelius White (#254) – City 11-1 Roherham United (25/8/1928)
Fred Bedford (#259) City 8-2 Ashington (13/10/1928)

Amazingly, the three players who scored hat-tricks on their Bradford debut all did so in the same season! It came all the way back in 1928-29, when City won Division Three (North) for the one and only time. Two of those hat-tricks came in the same game; the opening match of that season, as City registered what is still their record victory, beating Rotherham United 11-1. Trevor Edmunds and Cornelius White both scored three times.

Then, less than two months later, Fred Bedford did exactly the same on his first appearance in claret and amber, when City beat Washington 8-2. It was a season not short on records; later that year, Albert Whitehurst became the first – and only – City player in history to score seven times in one game, as the Bantams beat Tranmere 8-0.

Players to have scored twice on debut:
Albert Whitehurst (#264) – City 4-3 Lincoln City (16/2/1929)
Reuben Woolhouse (#278) – City 3-2 Charlton Athletic (30/8/1930)
William Cooper (#385) – City 2-1 New Brighton (9/9/1946)
John Neilson (#407) – City 3-1 Hartlepool United (25/10/1947)
Alan Hampson (#512) – City 4-3 Mansfield Town (12/9/1956)

Incredibly, while five players have scored twice on their official City debut, nobody has achieved the feat for over 60 years now.

The aforementioned Albert Whitehurst, who has a special place in City history with another goal-scoring feat, did start his time in claret and amber with a two-gaol performance against Lincoln in February 1929. He would finish that season with 24 goals in 15 appearances, a remarkable number.

Reuben Woolhouse followed just over a year later, but it wasn’t until after the Second World War someone would do it again. And peculiarly, the next two men to achieve it – William Cooper in 1946 and John Neilson the following year – made only 13 league appearances for City between them (seven and six respectively).

Alan Hampson was the final man to score twice on his debut in City’s 4-3 win over Mansfield in 1956 – but nobody has done it since.

Notable players to have scored on their City debut
John Hallows (#280) – 22/11/1930 v Burnley
Sean McCarthy (#789) – 25/8/1990 v Tranmere Rovers
Des Hamilton (#826) – 3/5/1994 v Barnet
Stan Collymore (#925) – 29/10/2000 v Leeds United
Eoin Jess (#928) – 1/1/2001 v Leicester City
Danny Cadamarteri (#940) – 23/2/2002 v Gillingham
Charlie Wyke (#1221) – 4/2/2017 v Gillingham

Players to have scored in all four domestic competitions for Bradford City

With four competitions – the league, the League Cup, the FA Cup and the Football League Trophy (no sponsorship names at BantamsHeritage!) – a permanent fixture in City’s calendar for at least another season, we thought we’d take a look at those players who have achieved the feat of scoring in all four competitions for the club.

Naturally, that removes some of Bradford’s greatest-ever players from the list for a number of reasons; be that they never played in the Football League Trophy, or some competitions weren’t invented until after they had finished representing the club.

As the newest of the four competitions, the Football League Trophy records was the ideal, and indeed easiest, place to look. 32 players have scored for City in that particular competition – but only seven have them have scored in the other three competitions. Fittingly, two of the club’s greatest-ever goal-scorers are in this exclusive club – listed in heritage number order, naturally:

Paul Jewell (#756)
56 league goals, 3 FA Cup goals, 5 League Cup goals, 1 Football League Trophy goal.
Brian Tinnion (#763)
22 league goals, 3 FA Cup goals, 2 League Cup goals, 2 Football League Trophy goals.
Sean McCarthy (#777)
60 league goals, 2 FA Cup goals, 9 League Cup goals, 7 Football League Trophy goals.
James Hanson (#1053)
78 league goals, 6 FA Cup goals, 5 League Cup goals, 1 Football League Trophy goal.
Kyel Reid (#1107)
13 league goals, 2 FA Cup goals, 1 League Cup goal, 1 Football League Trophy goal.
Billy Knott (#1157)
3 league goals, 3 FA Cup goals, 1 League Cup goal, 1 Football League Trophy goal.
Alex Jones (#1207)
5 league goals, 1 FA Cup goal, 1 League Cup goal, 3 Football League Trophy goals.

It’s arguably Knott and Jones’ record of being two of only seven players to have scored for Bradford in all four competitions which is most impressive – given Knott only scored eight goals for City in his time with the club and Jones (at the time of writing, has just ten).

Are there any interesting, quirky or alternative stats you want us to write about? Let us know, we’re always keen to hear from our readers! Tweet us @BantamsHeritage.