All posts by Aaron Bower

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.

The Bradford City Team of the Decade: Have Your Say

Since the turn of the last decade, there have been no shortage of highs and lows for Bradford City supporters.

No decade in City’s history has experienced a greater turnover of players, with over 200 men making their official debut for the Bantams since the start of 2010. That number could rise further before the end of the decade in a few months’ time, too.

But it is undeniable that throughout the past ten years, City fans have been able to witness a number of players who will go on to be regarded as some of the most-loved in the club’s history. And with the 20s fast approaching, we at Bantams Heritage thought we would commemorate the end of the decade with the Bradford City Team of the 2010s.

Inevitably, a number of positions are likely to be decided in the minds of supporters already, particularly given the Bantams’ heroics in numerous cup competitions over recent seasons. But over the coming weeks, we will select a four-player shortlist for every position in our team, and throw the vote open to the supporters.

The formation? We are sticking with the traditional 4-4-2; easy to understand, easy to categorise players into positions and universally appreciated as the panacea of footballing formations. We will also be holding a vote after the team has been selected to pick the manager of the side, too.

All that’s left for you to do now is vote. To do so, follow us on Twitter – @BantamsHeritage – and have your say in picking Bradford City’s team of the past ten years.

Bradford City and the Football League Trophy: a potted history

Whether it’s the Associate Members Cup, the Football League Trophy or the EFL Trophy, Bradford City have had plenty of experience with professional football’s lower-league competition.

Yes, there have been periods (from 1985-86 to 1989-90 and 1996-97 to 2003-04) where City, as a result of being in the top two divisions, haven’t been involved, but in all, this season will be City’s 24th attempt at winning the FLT. Here’s a brief history of how City have performed thus far – and the leading stat makers in the competition.

City’s best runs in the competition

Bradford City have never got further than the regional semi-finals of the competition, a feat they actually achieved three times in four seasons during the lean years of League Two football around the turn of the last decade.

In 2009-10, City were beaten 3-0 by Carlisle in the area semis – when an area final against Leeds United would have been the prize on offer had the Bantams won. Two seasons later, in 2011-12, Oldham Athletic were the team who put City out, before the following season, in 2012-13, it was easy to forget City got within a couple of games of a third Wembley appearance in one season.

That year, eventual winners Crewe beat us 4-1 in the area semis. Given how the game took place in January 2013, in between the two-legged League Cup semi against Aston Villa, it’s no surprise City had other things on their mind when Kyle Reid scored the only Bantams goal at Gresty Road!

Most FLT appearances for Bradford City

An accolade every aspiring footballer will no doubt want – to hold the record for most appearances in the Checkatrade Trophy for one club! Fittingly though, the current top two going into this season’s campaign are held by Bradfordians.

Our very own Lee Duxbury (#778) is the man who has more FLT appearances for City than anyone else, with 12. Next is James Hanson (HN#1065) on 11.

Current first-team player and HN#1203 Danny Devine also has 11 Football League Trophy games for the club. That makes up almost a third of the 28 appearances in all competitions Devine has for City.

Gavin Oliver (HN#752) is also in double figures with 10, as is Stephen Darby (HN#1134). After that, a certain Sean McCarthy (#HN789) has nine – as does Rory McArdle (HN#1136).

Most FLT goals for Bradford City

Only 11 players have scored more than once for City in this competition, incredibly – and the leader is McCarthy, who from his nine appearances, scored an impressive seven goals.

One behind McCarthy is former striker Steven Torpey (HN#793), who has six. Seven players have scored three times – Michael Flynn, Neil Tolson, Joe Brown, Jordy Hiwula, Gary Williams, Haris Vuckic and Alex Jones – but two stand out as the most impressive.

One is local lad Brown, whose three goals all came in three sub appearances. The other is current first-teamer Jones, one of a handful of players to have scored in all four competitions for City (What?! You’ve not read that article?! Click here!) His three goals have come in just two games in the FLT.

Brian Tinnion and Shaun Murray (both on two) are the other players to have scored more than once.

Third-highest post-War crowd figure posted at Valley Parade for Liverpool game

It is a true mark of the people of Bradford that when someone who has given something to the city finds themselves in an hour of need, Bradfordians generally respond in kind.

Sunday’s fixture against Liverpool – which was about so much more than football – was an example of that. It is rare that Bradford City put the sold-out signs up at Valley Parade, but at the weekend, that was very much the case as the cities of Bradford and Liverpool aimed to raise as much money as possible for the Darby Rimmer Foundation.

And the crowd figures City have posted in all competitions since World War Two show just how significant a day it was – with the official crowd of 24,343 the second-highest total the club have posted for any game since the end of the war.

The record was never in danger: due to the fact it will not be beaten again unless Valley Parade was to be extended. That came in 1960, when Burnley visited Bradford in the fifth round of that season’s FA Cup. City took the Clarets to a replay in front of 26,227 people – but were beaten 5-0 in the visit across the Pennines.

Much has also been rightly made of how it is a new all-time record for the new-look, modern Valley Parade – with Sunday’s game the highest crowd for any City fixture since the stadium reopened in 1986 against Derby County.

Previous high crowds for Valley Parade were the FA Cup quarter-final against Reading in 2015 (24,321) and the previous round against Sunderland (24,021). A full list of City’s post-War record crowds are below:

  1. City v Hull (League, February 1949) – 27,083
  2. City v Burnley (FA Cup, 26/2/1960) – 26,227 
  3. City v Liverpool (friendly, 14/7/2019) – 24,343
  4. City v Reading (FA Cup, 7/3/2015) – 24,321
  5. City v Sunderland (FA Cup, 15/2/2015) – 24,021
  6. City v Arsenal (League Cup, 11/12/2012) – 23,971
  7. City v Oldham (League, 29/4/1953) – 23,580
  8. City v Everton (FA Cup, 9/1/1960) – 23,550
  9. City v Bradford (League, 15/9/1951) – 23,135
  10. City v Spurs (FA Cup, 3/1/1970) – 23,000


The Early Paraders: Dicky Bond, City’s England international and outside-right superstar

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.

Image result for dicky bond bradford city

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.

Dicky Bond
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.