Category Archives: General Blog

How City’s attendance stats for the 2018-19 season stack up with history

It’s been a year to forget on the field for Bradford City, statistically – and in every other sense too – one of the worst in living memory.

But City’s average attendance throughout the course of what has been a disastrous campaign has held fairly strong. Yes, season ticket holders go a long way to contributing to that figure, but given how the club sold fewer than 14,000+ season tickets this season, one has to assume that a large portion of our average attendance comes from walk-up crowds – both at home and away.

Since City were last relegated to League Two in 2007 seems an appropriate, and somewhat ironic, period of time to use to work out where City’s attendances stand at the moment. Here is how City’s crowd stats stack up alongside our recent history.

The 2018-19 stats

  • City averaged an attendance of 16,140 across the season in the league – and the highest and lowest totals in that figure were little over a fortnight apart.
  • The highest crowd at Valley Parade was against Sunderland on October 6th, 2018. 19,487 were there.
  • The lowest: 11,075 against Coventry just 17 days after that Sunderland game.
  • It is also worth noting that City recorded the lowest-ever crowd for a professional game in the club’s history: when 902 attended the Football League Trophy match against Everton U21s. A closer look at City’s lowest-ever crowds can be seen by clicking here.

12-month comparison

That average figure of 16,140 is also a significant drop from the previous three seasons, when City consistently recorded average crowds above 18,000. In fact, the 2017-18 total was as high as 19,787: making this season’s figure a drop of 18.43%.

Comparison with recent history

While this season’s average is a drop on the more recent years, it is still significantly stronger than the majority of the crowds across the past decade.

If you go back just over a decade, to the 2007-08 season – City’s first in League Two – crowds were averaging just shy of 14,000. The longer City stayed in the fourth-tier, the lower the crowds went: with the average falling in every single one of the six seasons City remained in the bottom division of the Football League:

  • 12-13: 10,322,

  • 11-12: 10,608

  • 10-11: 11,128
  • 09-10: 11,453
  • 08-09: 12,704
  • 07-08: 13,735

That is no doubt a cautionary statistic to those in charge of the club now, as City prepare for a return to League Two this summer.

However, even while City’s first two seasons back in League One under Phil Parkinson saw crowds increase to around the 14,000 mark again, it is interesting to note that this season’s figures are still much higher, despite the poor form.

Have City Ever Survived With so Few Points at This Stage?

To suggest Gary Bowyer has inherited a difficult situation at Bradford City would be putting it mildly. With six games remaining in the 2018-19 season, it is not an exaggeration to suggest City’s hopes of League One survival are slim at best.

Realistically, a team who have won just ten games all season will now have to win at least four of the final six matches to stand any chance of staving off the drop to the bottom tier of the Football League yet again: but what does history tell us about City’s chances of doing that?

In truth, it is a fairly mixed outlook. Since the inception of the 46-game Football League season in 1950-51, Bradford City have only twice had fewer than 36 points at this stage in proceedings – 40 games played – if you apply the current three-points-per-win system across history.

One of those was this century – the ill-fated 2003-04 campaign which saw the Bantams, under the auspices of Bryan Robson, drop out of the Championship into League One. After 40 games, City had acquired a meagre 33 points – and the final six games brought about another five defeats and just one win, City being relegated with 36 points.

However, for those looking at the club’s history and hoping for a miracle escape, it has actually been achieved before. Applying today’s three-points-per-win system, in 1964-65, City had picked up just 32 points (9 wins, 5 draws) from the first 40 games, and were in real danger of having to apply for re-election to the Football League yet again, having been forced to do so two years earlier.

But William Harris’ Bantams won three of their final six – including the last two games – drawing the other three, going on a remarkable unbeaten run to eventually survive by just two points. In today’s system, it took City to safety with just 44 points. Naturally, more than that will be needed this season.

However, there are other seasons which underline how difficult a task this will be for Bowyer and City. In the three seasons in the 1960s when City did have to go cap in hand to the Football League and apply for re-election, they had more points at this stage than the current crop do. In 1960-61, City finished 22nd in League One, and from their first 40 games, had won 10 and drawn 12: 42 points in current money.

Two years later, City won 10 and drew 8 of the first 40, eventually finishing 23rd in Division Four. In 1965-66, City won 11 of their first 40 which, along with 9 draws, was far more than the current crop of players have managed. Yet they still finished 23rd in Division Four.

So in truth, it is a mixed verdict when weighing up City’s past in comparison to the current job at hand. Most people are deeming it impossible already – and they may be right – but there is at least one instance of a remarkable turnaround ensuring survival.

The Greatest Bradford City Kit Ever: The contenders

As well as the highs and lows on the field, Bradford City have had a mixed history when it comes to producing kits – but there are some that clearly stand out from the rest for the right reasons.

Some of City’s greatest moments are partly so memorable for the kits, as well as the football – so with that in mind, Bantams Heritage is launching the World Cup of Bradford City Kits! Over a period of two weeks on our Twitter (@BantamsHeritage), we’ll be asking you to whittle down 16 classic strips all nominated by you on Twitter – home and away – to just one: the best of all-time.

There are four groups of four; three featuring home kits and one exclusively for away/alternate shirts. Let the fun begin – here are your 16 contenders:

Group A (Retro)

  • 1984-85 home (Bradford Mythbreakers)
  • 1960-62 home (predominantly amber, thin claret stripes)
  • 1910-11 home (FA Cup winners)
  • 1975-77 home (white with C&A middle)

Group B (Home With a Twist)

  • 1996-97 home (Diamond Seal quadrants)
  • 1991-93 home (Freemans checkerboard)
  • 1993-94 home (Freemans.. random!)
  • 1977-78 home (amber with claret band)

Group C (Classics)

  • 1987-88 home (Bradford Great City!)
  • 1988-90 home (Grattan, C&A stripes)
  • 1995-96 home (Diamond Seal)
  • 1998-99 home (Beaver)

Group D (Away/Alternate)

  • 1998-99 away (Beaver white)
  • 1994-97 away (Diamond seal blue)
  • 2016-17 away (black w/diagonal C&A stripe)
  • 2012-13 away (gold ‘history makers’)

Harold Walden: Bradford City’s all-singing Olympic hero

There are many, many reasons Bantams Heritage was born – but above all else, one of the biggest motivations was to be able to inspire and inform younger generations of Bradford City fans about the amazingly rich history our football club has.

That involves great matches, great servants and incredible back-stories to some of our former players – and few former Bantams fit that final category better than the late Harold Walden.

Walden joined Bradford City while the club was very much in its infancy – though by the time he became Heritage Number #110 on December 16th, 1911, against Notts County, City had won their first – and only – FA Cup title. Even before he became a Bantam, though, Walden had a fascinating journey to BD8.

Walden was born in the Indian city of Umballa (now known as Ambala) and, to our knowledge, is the only former City player to own a Heritage Number and be born in India. Though he returned to England as a youngster, Walden began an amateur football career in Ireland, playing for Cliftonville and Linfield while serving in the army.

However, in 1911, Walden was released from the army and signed amateur teams with Halifax Town – before, by December of that year, signing on professionally with the Bantams. Having made his debut in the 3-2 defeat to Notts County, Walden scored his first City goals a week later, a brace in the 3-2 victory over Tottenham Hotspur. He finished his first season with City as the club’s top scorer, with 11 goals in 17 games as Peter O’Rourke’s side finished 11th in Division One. He also scored a hat-trick in the 4-0 win over QPR in the FA Cup first round.

But it was that summer when Walden’s story really began to accelerate. While still a City player, he was called into Great Britain’s squad for the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden (pictured above). Playing as a centre-forward, Walden scored SIX as Great Britain hammered Hungary 7-0 in their opening game, before scoring twice in the semi-final win over Finland, and again in the final, a 4-2 victory over Denmark. Three games, nine goals – but Walden was denied the golden boot courtesy of Germany’s Gottfried Fuchs: who scored TEN in one game, a 16-0 win over Russia!

After the Olympics, Walden’s City career continued, but by the time World War One had ended, Walden had a fairly unsuccessful spell with Arsenal, before returning to City for the latter years of his footballing career – then, he would embark on an altogether different journey.

Legend has it that in 1919 – before he had even retired from playing – Walden made his stage debut, starting a new career as a performer and musician. He was successful, too; and Bradford City reportedly featured heavily in a lot of Walden’s acts and performances. This clip below refers to him ‘playing for Bradford’ – though fans of another Bradford-based football club may argue he could have been referring to them, as there’s no mention of the word City:

Walden also appeared as himself in a 1940s film, Cup Tie Honeymoon, as well as a silent film based on football in the 1920s called The Winning Goal. He passed away in 1955 due to a heart attack – but should almost certainly be looked back upon as one of this football club’s most interesting and famous former players.

Whether it was as an Olympic goal-scoring sensation – Walden is still the fourth-highest scorer in Olympic history and highest British scorer – while a Bantams player or a star of the stage and screen, Harold Walden has a firm, permanent place in Bradford City’s illustrious history.

Harold Walden (1887-1955)
Heritage Number: #110
Debut: 16/12/1911 v Notts County
Appearances: 57
Goals: 24

Back again: Billy Clarke and the former Bantams who’ve had two spells with the club

Billy Clarke’s return to Bradford City in the final hours of the January 2019 transfer window ensured that the forward joined a very small and exclusive club.

Over 1,200 players have played a competitive game of football for Bradford City – but only 27 have done so in two different spells for the club. Clarke joins some of the Bantams’ greatest-ever players – as well as some slightly more unheralded men from the past – on that list. In chronological order, that list (with heritage numbers) is:

#20 – James McLean, #37 – Gerald Kirk, #55 – George Handley, #120 – John Ewart, #414 – Derek Hawksworth, #453 – Ronald Harbertson, #539 – Trevor Hockey, #654 – Joe Cooke, #706 – Peter Jackson, #710 – Bobby Campbell, #722 – Stuart McCall, #753 – Ian Ormondroyd, #769 – Lee Sinnott, #778 – Lee Duxbury, #878 – Aidan Davison, #885 – Mark Prudhoe, #907 – Dean Windass #943 – Paul Evans, #944 – Andy Gray, #949 – Stephen Warnock, #964 – Paul Heckingbottom, #1004 – Nathan Doyle, #1039 – Rhys Evans, #1040 – Nicky Law, #1119 – Kyel Reid, #1168 – Billy Clarke, #1201 – Josh Cullen.

Clarke’s two-year hiatus between Bradford City appearances is nowhere near the longest break between spells – in fact, it is one of the shortest.

For example, Stuart McCall went a whole decade between appearances, having left City in 1988 and not returning until 1998. Striker Ian Ormondroyd left in 1989 and wouldn’t return for six years, eventually re-joining the Bantams in 1995.

Interestingly, in a similar vein to when McCall returned to a fairly newly-assembled squad in 1998, Clarke’s return instantly makes him one of the most experienced Bradford City players at the club.

In fact, Clarke’s 121 appearances for the Bantams (120 in his first spell) is only bettered by defender Nathaniel Knight-Percival, who has made 124 appearances for City in all competitions.