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.

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)

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