Category Archives: City in Competition

The kids are alright: City set record for homegrown players in first-team one week into season

The new season is barely a week old, and Stuart McCall’s Bradford City are setting club records.

Our history with youth development has been, it’s fair to say, mixed. While some of the club’s all-time greats have come through our own Academy and left their mark on the club, recent years have been somewhat leaner.

However, there are signs that this season will be markedly different for City, with six Academy products already featuring in a first-team match this season, just two games into the campaign. That, certainly in the club’s modern-day history, is a record by some distance.

Three of them made their debut for the club in the EFL Trophy match against Doncaster Rovers: Kian Scales, Connor Shanks and Finn Cousin-Dawson.

Jorge Sikora, another product of the same Academy class, debuted in last season’s EFL Trophy, but has already added to his one appearance in that competition last year.

The other two Academy products to have featured are defender Reece Staunton, who has now made a number of appearances for the first-team since he debuted, and Dylan Mottley-Henry, who is in his second spell at City but also classes as a homegrown talent.

In the last decade, from 2010 to 2020, City blooded the following Academy graduates in at least one first-team game: Louis Horne, Luke Dean, Dominic Rowe, Alex Flett, Adam Baker, Scott Brown, Kwame Boateng, Daniel Devine Ellis Hudson, Tom Windle, James King, Sam Wright, Alex Laird, Cameron Hawkes, Elliot Goldthorp, Raeece Ellington,  Connor Morris and George Sykes-Kenworthy.

However, the expectation is that this current class will feature much more prominently, with a large portion of those playing only once for the club, and an even smaller fraction making any sort of appearance in league football.

It seems that the future is bright at City.

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.

Bradford City versus Liverpool: A potted history from 1903 to now

The cities of Bradford and Liverpool will unite on Sunday for Stephen Darby, as a sell-out crowd aims to raise as much money as possible for the Darby Rimmer Foundation. It will be a magnificent occasion and, ahead of it, it felt appropriate to look back at competitive meetings between the two sides.

Bradford City and Liverpool do, understandably, not meet in competitive football all that often. In total, there have been just 26 clashes between the teams in league games, with a handful of cup games thrown in to boot.

For context, that is significantly less than meetings against the likes of Manchester United (32), Tottenham Hotspur (32) and Chelsea (34). That is largely due to the fact that since City’s formation in 1903, Liverpool have spent just nine seasons out of English football’s top division.

Early meetings

One of those came in 1904-05, City’s second season as a Football League club. The two sides met for the first time officially on September 17th, 1904; John Beckram – the first player to receive a Heritage Number – scored in a 4-1 defeat at Anfield. The reverse fixture that season was equally one-sided; as Tom Watson’s side came to Valley Parade and won 4-2. Liverpool won promotion that season, and while the two sides met in the FA Cup in 1907 – City again succumbing to defeat in the Third Round – it wouldn’t be long before the Paraders joined them in the top-flight.

However, City’s first win against Liverpool was still some years away. In the club’s first two seasons in Division One, Liverpool won all four meetings – before our first victory at Anfield, on the opening day of the 1910-11 season, a campaign which would end with FA Cup success for City. Jimmy Spiers and Frank O’Rourke scored in front of approximately 20,000 people at Anfield and that season – the first and only time it has ever happened – Bradford City finished higher than Liverpool in the league standings. City came 5th, while Liverpool were 16th.

That was one of only two occasions in which Bradford City would win at Anfield – the other coming on New Year’s Day 1914, when Dicky Bond scored the only goal in a 1-0 win. Since then, City have been back to Anfield over half a dozen times and been beaten on every single occasion.

There was one other notable piece of business between the sides prior to World War Two; Liverpool sold forward Albert Whitehurst to the Paraders in 1929. He scored 30 times in 38 league games – including setting the all-time record for goals in a single game for the club, when he scored 7 against Tranmere in March 1929. It has still not been beaten to this day.

Post-World War Two

City were relegated from the First Division in 1922, and wouldn’t return for 77 years. Even when Liverpool dropped out themselves for a period in the mid-1950s, the Paraders were languishing in the third tier of the Football League pyramid. There was an FA Cup tie meeting between the sides in January 1924 – but it yielded a familiar outcome, as Liverpool won 2-1 at Anfield in the First Round.

It would be 56 years until the two teams met competitively again – but it produced one of Bradford City’s most legendary performances. George Mulhall’s Paraders were a mid-table Fourth Division side in 1980, while Liverpool were back-to-back league champions, and were just beginning a season that would see them lift the European Cup.

After seeing off Rotherham in the First Round of that season’s League Cup, City were given the plum tie: Liverpool over two legs. With almost the entire league pyramid between the two teams, City weren’t given a sniff – but on a Wednesday night under the lights at Valley Parade, the Paraders stunned the world.

A Liverpool side featuring the likes of Graeme Souness, Phil Thompson, Alan Hansen and Ray Clemence were beaten 1-0 thanks to Bobby Campbell’s goal. It raised hopes of arguably the biggest shock in League Cup history, but Liverpool set the record straight at Anfield a week later, winning 4-0 and continuing City’s miserable record at the ground.

Premier League Years

City had to wait another two decades to lock horns with arguably the world’s most famous football club again. 11 points from the first 11 games in the 1999-00 Premier League season had raised hopes the Bantams could keep their heads above water in the top-flight, but a 3-1 defeat at Anfield in November 1999 – with goals from Titi Camara, Jamie Redknapp and Veggard Heggem – a sobering reminder of the jump-up in class the Premier League provided.

Of course, few City fans need reminding about the return leg at Valley Parade that season:

..and that was the last goal Bradford City have scored against Liverpool. The following season, City were beaten 1-0 and 2-0 and relegated from the Premier League – and the sides have not met since.

Sunday’s game, of course, is about far more than any football scoreline.. but a repeat of Campbell or David Wetherall’s heroics would at least raise a cheer from most of those inside a sold-out Valley Parade. Even if we all know deep down what the final outcome is likely to be.

Bradford City versus Liverpool record (league)
Played: 26
Won: 6
Drawn: 2
Lost: 18
Goals For: 22; Goals Against: 45

Bradford City versus Liverpool record (all comps)
Played: 30
Won: 7
Drawn: 2
Lost: 21
Goals For: 24; Goals Against: 52

Played for Both Clubs Include: (Heritage Number)
David Pratt (#176)
Albert Whitehurst (#264)
Don Woan (#473)
David Wilson (#662)
Steve Staunton (#768)
Phil Babb (#795)
Stan Collymore (#928)
Stephen Darby (#1137)

The story of Bradford City’s ‘other’ major cup victory – the Division Three Challenge Cup

When you think of Bradford City and cup final victories, you most probably think of one thing: Jimmy Speirs, the FA Cup and 1911 – but it isn’t the only time the Paraders have lifted a cup high above their heads.

1939 would prove to be a year which changed the world forever, following the outbreak of World War Two. It was the last year regular league football would be contested until after the war, and things didn’t get back to some form of regularity until 1946-47.

Bradford City were also going through an interesting period in the club’s history in 1939. Three years earlier, the club had been relegated to Division Three (North); and they actually wouldn’t return to the second tier for 48 years. Manager Dick Ray eventually left in 1938 after City finished disappointingly in mid-table in their first season in Division Three (North), and the board of directors turned to Carlisle manager Fred Westgarth, who decided to resign from his post at Brunton Park to take the City job. It was an inspired move from all parties.

Westgarth wasted no time in reshuffling an underperforming Paraders squad in time for the 1938-39 season. Goalkeeper James McCloy, a stalwart in Scotland with St Mirren, forward Jimmy Smailes and defender Ernest Beardshaw were among six players who made their debut on the opening day of the season: a thumping 6-2 win against Darlington. That was a hint for the success which would follow that season.

In the league, City finished 3rd, much-improved on the previous season’s 14th-placed finish. They were still some way behind eventual champions Barnsley and were knocked out of the FA Cup in the first round at Chester: but there was still another prize to aim for.

In 1933, the Football League introduced another tournament for teams in the bottom tier: the Third Division Challenge Cup. Both the north and south divisions were given their own cup, and City entered for the first time in 1937-38, doing well in the process: getting all the way to the final, before losing to back-to-back champions Southport.

George Hinsley, one of the stars of City’s pre-WW2 sides.

However, Westgarth’s new-look, free-scoring Paraders – they netted 89 goals in 42 league games in 1938-39 – were clearly capable of going one step further this time around. It was an underwhelming start, however; it took a replay, and a Jack Deakin goal, to see off Rotherham in the first round – in front of a crowd of just 1,124 (City’s average was around three or four times that for league games in the run-up to World War Two).

From there though, the shackles came off. Deakin and George Hinsley both scored twice in a 6-0 demolition of Hull City in the next round, before Hartlepool United were beaten 5-2 at Valley Parade in the semi-final, Deakin this time scoring a hat-trick, with Hinsley netting twice.

City’s second successive final in the Challenge Cup produced a meeting with Accrington Stanley at Valley Parade. The two meetings between the sides in the league had been split by a single goal on each occasion: but Westgarth’s Paraders played Stanley off the field in the final – with Hinsley and Smailes among the scorers in a 3-0 win on May 1st, 1939, in front of a crowd of 3,117. Almost 28 years to the day since City’s first major cup triumph, another trophy had worked its way back to Valley Parade – and this time, it had been won on home soil to boot.

But that, unfortunately, is where the story ends. Many clubs can rightfully question how their clubs would have evolved in the following years had Britain not declared war on September 3rd, 1939: and Bradford City are one of them. Westgarth had built an exciting, free-scoring footballing side in a matter of just months, and unfortunately, by the time the war had ended in 1945, that team had been almost entirely broken up. Promotion, you suspect, would have been an inevitability at some stage under Westgarth – but even he left his position as manager midway through the war to join Hartlepool, where he would experience further success.

League football was suspended during World War Two, with an alternative competition, based on region, rather than ability, put in place by the Football League. That featured an enormous number of guest players who were normally stationed locally – as evidenced by the fact that one such player, James Isaac, was the third-highest appearance-maker for Bradford City during the war. Players like Goerge Murphy, Ernest Beardshaw and Jimmy Smailes, who could – and arguably should – be remembered as legends, had their best years in a Bradford City shirt robbed by the war.

But there will always be that triumph of 1938-39. Yes, it certainly won’t stick in the memory as firmly as the unforgettable FA Cup victory of 1911: but as City’s second – and most recent – cup competition victory, it is surely well worthy of a place in the minds of all supporters, irrespective of their age.

The team that won the 1938-39 Division Three (North) Challenge Cup Final (with heritage numbers):

City 3-0 Accrington
Goals: Hastie, Hinsley, Smailes

#356: James McCloy
#319: George Murphy
#305: Charles McDermott
#357: Peter Molloy
#354: Ernest Beardshaw
#232: Charles Moore
#337: Alfred Whittingham
#364: George Hinsley
#336: Jack Deakin
#363: Alexander Hastie
#358: James Smailes

Bradford City, the FA Cup first round and non-league meetings

On Saturday afternoon, Bradford City enter the FA Cup at the first round stage for the 83rd time in the club’s history.- looking to improve a more-than-favourable record at this stage of the competition.

In all, City have progressed to Round Two on 50 occasions out of the previous 82 attempts – including last year, when they made it to Round Three. They have been eliminated, either via replay or in one tie, a total of 32 times.

Here is a closer look at some of the more memorable first round ties, as well as a preview of our history with Aldershot and ties against non-league opposition at this stage of the cup.

Early mishaps

City were forced to go through the qualifying rounds in the first three years of their existence. In 1903-04, Robert Campbell’s side scored 14 goals in wins against Rockingham Colliery, Mirfield United and Worksop before being eliminated by Chesterfield.

The following season, they met prominent non-league side Millwall Athletic, who had already reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup twice, in 1900 and 1903. City were beaten 4-0 in the last round – the Intermediate Round – before Round One. Next year, they did reach the FA Cup proper, going all the way to Round Three.


As most City fans know, the 1910-11 cup run ended with the Bantams lifting the trophy for the first and only time in the club’s history.

One of their biggest scares along the way, however, came in Round One when we squeezed past non-league side New Brompton (now known as Gillingham) 1-0. Wins against Norwich, Grimsby, Burnley, Blackburn and, as we know, Newcastle via a replay, followed.

Big Round One Wins

In what is hopefully a good omen for Saturday City have been able to put non-league sides to the sword quite convincingly in the past.

Prime examples are plentiful. In 1927-28, a crowd of 14,579 were at Valley Parade to watch part-time side Workington AFC be sent out 6-0.

In 1937-38, now-defunct side Walker Celtic – based in the north east – celebrated reaching the First Round Proper for the only time in the club’s history by drawing City. Incredibly, they held the Bantams to a 1-1 draw at in Walker, meaning a replay at Valley Parade.

However, Jack Deakin and Roland Bartholomew both scored four times as the Bantams ran out 11-3 winners! It is one of only two occasions when City have scored 11 in a game; the other an 11-1 win against Rotherham in the league in 1928.

Exits to Non-League Sides

While City’s record in cup competitions in recent years has been about upsetting the odds, there have been occasions where the Bantams have been victims of an upset themselves.

The 1960s were a fallow period for the Bantams, forced to re-apply for their league position twice alone during that decade. Fortunes in the FA Cup were no better; with the nadir the first round exit to non-league side Scarborough FC in 1964-65.

Modern-Day Non-League Opposition

There were two more notable meetings with non-league opposition in Round One as the 1980s began. City’s meeting with Brandon United – the first time the County Durham-based side had reached the first round – was actually moved to neutral territory, namely Spennymoor United’s Brewery Field ground by order of the FA.

It was a happy hunting ground for City, who won 3-0. Five years later came arguably the Bantams’ most infamous non-league opposition, when Trevor Cherry’s all-conquering Division Three champions were drawn at home to Tow Law Town.

Tow Law, famous for being the first team of future City midfielder Chris Waddle before he joined Newcastle, were beaten 7-2 – with an illustrious list of goalscorers: McCall, Hendrie, Campbell (2), Goodman (3).

Recent FA Cup First Round Ties

When City were promoted to Division One in 1996, it meant an almost decade-long exile from the first round due to not having to enter until Round Three.

However, in the last five years, City have faced non-league opposition at this stage twice. We played Saturday’s opposition, Aldershot, in 2015 – Greg Leigh and Tony McMahon scoring the goals in a 2-0 win at home in a replay following a 0-0 draw at Aldershot.

12 months earlier, City’s legendary run to the quarter-finals began with a clash against non-league opposition. City fell behind to FC Halifax Town early on, before goals from Filipe Morais and Jon Stead set up a Round Two tie with Dartford.