Category Archives: General Blog

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.

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 Early Paraders: Jack Deakin, City’s free-scoring forward of the 1930s

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. This is the story of Jack Deakin, a supremely-talented forward who still possesses one of the best goals-per-game ratio in the club’s history.

Great goalscorers are commonly regarded as the pinnacle when it comes to retrospective debates about the best footballers of all-time. Throughout the annals of time, every club imaginable has had a free-scoring, prolific forward or two – and Bradford City are no such exception.

Recent generations of supporters will immediately point to players like Nahki Wells and Lee Mills who fit those criteria, but Jack Deakin was one of the first players to establish a reputation as a deadly striker while wearing claret and amber.

Born in September 1912 in nearby Altofts, the records show little about Deakin’s career as a footballer until he surfaced at Bradford City, making his debut at the age of 24 in November 1936. He was reportedly signed from Altofts WRC, and came into a Paraders side that season who were struggling at the foot of Division Two.

Since the formation of a third Football League division in 1921, the club had spent just two seasons there – but under Dick Ray, they were heading for a third in 1937. City finished second-bottom of Division Two – with only Doncaster below them – but the emergence of Deakin, who scored twice in his four appearances, including a goal on debut against Aston Villa, offered hope for next season.

Deakin featured in only three of the first six games of the 1937-38, failing to score as the Paraders continued to struggle under Ray, eventually winning just one of their first eight games. However, Deakin soon found his stride in front of goal, scoring seven times in four games: including a hat-trick during a 4-0 win against Carlisle. Despite all the struggles, the Paraders had found a new number nine who could lead the line with aplomb.

And while Deakin couldn’t fire City to promotion that season, the fact he scored 26 times in 36 games in a side who finished 14th in Division Three North underlined his credentials. With new manager Fred Westgarth threatening a promising rebuild for the 1938-39 season, Deakin was at the heart of a City side poised to challenge for promotion.

Unfortunately, Deakin managed to feature in just two of the first 16 games – but when he returned, it was clear his goal-scoring exploits had not abandoned him. Now in his third season as a professional and fully accustomed to the Football League, Deakin scored an incredible 23 goals in 28 games: including 12 in a run of seven consecutive fixtures. Only one man, John McCole, has scored in seven straight games alongside Deakin; he also netted 12 in the late 1950s.

Deakin also scored six times in five games during City’s run to becoming Division Three North Challenge Cup winners that season. That was only the second – and still most recent – professional cup competition the club won. While Westgarth’s Paraders finished third, it was clear they were set for a bright future.

But that, unfortunately, is where that squad’s – and Deakin’s – journey comes to an abrupt end. War broke out in late 1939 and despite attempts to keep league football going, it was eventually abandoned. Records show that Deakin called time on his own playing career during World War Two, and a player who could have easily gone on to become a record-breaker on numerous fronts if not for external events had his career cut cruelly short.

Players from all eras of the club’s history such as Wells, McCole and Wallace Smith had goalscoring records in and around the one in two mark: but hardly anyone could match Deakin’s record. Only David Layne’s 46 goals in 69 games for the Paraders is anything like Deakin’s feats in claret and amber.

In just 75 games, Jack Deakin scored 58 times. He passed away in 2001 at the age of 88, but his legacy at Bradford City should stand the test of time forever.

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