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.

Where City have finished in every season with a worse, or equal, start to this campaign

You do not have to know football to realise that with the season already over a third of the way through to completion, Bradford City’s class of 2018-19 are in trouble at the foot of League One.

Last week, we discussed how City had never started a season worse than this in terms of losses – with 12 defeats from the first 16 games still comfortably the worst start in the club’s history in that regard.

But in terms of what really matters – points on the board – it’s still some way off being the absolute worst. However, even in seasons of absolute misery like the 2000-01 campaign, when we were relegated from the Premier League in some style, that team had still amassed more points at the 16-game stage (11) than the current crop (10).

Of course, pre-1981, it was two points for a win in the Football League. So with the historical adjustments made to weigh up every start under the current three points for a win system, here’s every start which has been equal to or worse than the current one – including where the Bantams finished in the league each year.

Points after 16 games: 7 (1 win, 4 draws)
Final position: 22nd (bottom) of Division Two

Still the worst start in terms of points returned from the first 16 games in the club’s history, there would be no great mid-season turnaround for Colin Veitch’s class of 1926-27.

City won only one game between the start of the season and mid-December, realistically consigning them to the drop before Christmas.

There was a brief flurry of four wins in five games between March and April, but all that did in reality was spare City from an embarrassing points tally. They finished with just 23, eight points from safety, and were relegated to Division Three (North).

Points after 16 games: 8 (1 win, 5 draws)
Final position: 22nd (bottom) of Division Three (North)

The 1948-49 campaign began well enough for David Steele’s Bantams, with City claiming four points from their first two games without conceding a goal.

However, the 1-0 over Mansfield on August 25th would be City’s only win of the season until Christmas Day! And by then, City’s miserly tally of eight points meant the writing was on the wall somewhat.

City finished bottom of Division Three (North) but were spared relegation given how Division Four had yet to be created. However, given how the team bottom of Division Three (South), Crystal Palace, amassed more than the 23 points the Bantams managed, it made them the worst-performing team in the Football League.

Points after 16 games: 10 (2 wins, 4 draws)
Final position: 19th in Division Four

1964-65 saw the Bantams have to wait until their ninth game of the season for the first win in Division Four. By then, they had drawn four and lost four of their opening eight games – and things didn’t improve thereafter the 2-1 win over Oxford.

By the 16-game mark, City had won again just once, a 4-1 win over Wrexham. However, they did at least manage to spare themselves from a battle against re-election into the Football League. 12 months later, however, City would not be so lucky.

Points after 16 games: 10 (2 wins, 4 draws)
Final position: 23rd in Division Four (re-elected)

The mid-1960s was not a great time to be a Bradford City fan.

That’s because in 1965-66, the season after another terrible start, the Bantams picked up just 10 points from their first 16 games, eventually being forced to re-apply to the Football League for their place among the elite after a miserable season.

They were at least spared the ignominy of finishing bottom of the entire Football League by Wrexham who, along with City, Lincoln and Rochdale, were all successfully re-elected.

David Hopkin aiming for unwanted City managerial record on Saturday

To suggest it has been a tough inauguration for David Hopkin as Bradford City’s 37th permanent manager would be an understatement – though he has undoubtedly not been helped by matters off the field.

However, Hopkin will be aiming for victory on Saturday to not only hopefully move the Bantams off the bottom of the League One table, but to also avoid creating an unwanted managerial record.

Since the switch to three points for a victory at the beginning of the 1981-82 league season, 22 men have managed Bradford City on a permanent basis – beginning with Roy McFarland.

McFarland, who left City under controversial circumstances shortly after guiding the Bantams to promotion, has the best record of any manager during their first ten league games in charge – taking 25 points from a possible 30.

At the other end of the scale, two men share the worst points return from their first ten games. Chris Hutchings, who was dismissed shortly after managing City for ten games in the Premier League, and Trevor Cherry – who is the only man not to win any of his first ten league games – have just six points between them.

The other man to have won just six points, Michael Collins, was in charge for just six league games.

The fact it is those two men, Hutchings and Cherry – one who was sacked so quickly and one who would go on and produce one of the most iconic Bradford City sides in history – who share that record suggest nothing is fatal, or indeed certain, at such an early stage in Hopkin’s managerial career.

But with the Scot having won just four points from his first nine league games in charge – the draw against Bristol Rovers followed by the win at AFC Wimbledon in the space of four days last month – it means only a win will save Hopkin from having the worst start to any City manager’s reign since three points for a win was introduced 37 years ago.

City managers since 1981 and points return from first 10 games in charge

Michael Collins
Points from first ten games: 6 (dismissed after six games)
Simon Grayson
Points from first ten games: 8
Stuart McCall
Points from first ten games: 18 (unbeaten)
Phil Parkinson
Points from first ten games: 9
Peter Jackson
Points from first ten games: 11
Peter Taylor
Points from first ten games: 14
Stuart McCall
Points from first ten games: 10
Colin Todd
Points from first ten games: 13
Bryan Robson
Points from first ten games: 9
Nicky Law
Points from first ten games: 13
Jim Jeffries
Points from first ten games: 9
Chris Hutchings
Points from first ten games: 6
Paul Jewell
Points from first ten games: 17
Chris Kamara
Points from first ten games: 16
Lennie Lawrence
Points from first ten games: 17
Frank Stapleton
Points from first ten games: 12
John Docherty
Points from first ten games: 8
Terry Yorath
Points from first ten games: 12
Terry Dolan
Points from first ten games: 12
Trevor Cherry
Points from first ten games: 6 (no wins)
Roy McFarland
Points from first ten games: 25

The records tumble: where City’s horror 15-game start ranks alongside the rest

You may have seen our tweet in the immediate aftermath of Tuesday night’s defeat to Coventry – our 11th in just 15 league games – confirming that, in terms of losses, this is indeed Bradford City’s worst-ever start to a league campaign in our 115-year history.

Of course, losses alone isn’t the only way to weigh up just how bad a start this has been, so in true Grim Reaper fashion, we’ve worked out where the start ranks along all the others in a number of categories.

Games lost

As we pointed out, this is indeed Bradford City’s worst-ever start in terms of games lost at the beginning of a season. Never before has any season since the club’s formation in 1903 included 11 league defeats in the first 15 league games.

Points earned (including three points-per-win alterations)

The three points-per-win system was only introduced into English football at the beginning of the 1981-82 season, so to look all the way back to 1903 and work out where City’s points tally of this season ranks, we have to apply the present system across history.

And when doing that, it shows that there have been a handful of times in which City have failed to pick up fewer than the current 10 points the class of 2018 have got from their first 15 games.

The most recent? In the 2000-01 Premier League campaign, when Chris Hutchings’ side earned just eight points from their first 15 games. That, in a 38-game season, was inevitably going to lead to relegation.

Then, in 1983-84, Trevor Cherry’s side registered just eight points from their first 15 games: which included just one win. They did, however, then go on and finish 7th in Division Three following a run of 10 consecutive wins.

The other instances? In 1965-66, City got nine points from their first 15. All the way back in 1926-27, they actually got only seven – making this the fourth-worst start in terms of points gained.

Goals conceded

City have shipped an alarming 26 goals already this season, and have kept just four clean sheets – but you don’t have to go too far back to find a start worse than this defensively.

In City’s first season since relegation from the Premier League in 2001-02, things started quite well, with victories against Barnsley, Portsmouth and Coventry to start the season.

But by the time City had played 15 games that season, they’d already conceded a staggering 30 goals – including 10 in just three games.

Goals scored

15 games played, 12 goals scored. It’s been pretty grim in front of goal for City to say the least.

The last time it was this bad? When we were relegated from the Premier League in 2000-01 when, after 15 games, we’d scored just seven goals.

Incidentally, to find a Football League campaign with a worse start in front of goal, you have to go all the way back to 1970-71, when James Wheeler’s side scored just 11 times in their first 15 games.

Bantams Cult Heroes: #1 – Edinho

Growing up in Bradford in the mid-1990s was always a bit of a challenge in a footballing sense.

With Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Leeds all enjoying slices of success in and around the 90s, supporting Bradford City always made you stand out a little bit in the primary school playground.

While most kids my age had Cantona, Beckham, Fowler and Bergkamp to idolise, the seven-year-old me didn’t have any superstars to worship. But in my eyes, that all changed in February 1997 when the Bantams signed the original boy from Brazil.

I do remember being told by my dad that I should grow up cherishing the fact that a player of Chris Waddle’s stature was playing for City in 1996. At the time, I didn’t realise just how great a player Waddle was – and as such, I didn’t really care about him at all. Because I had Edinho, and I just didn’t want to entertain the thought of having anyone else as my first-ever Bradford City favourite.

From the minute he arrived in the final months of the 96/97 campaign, I was starstruck. How had Bradford City, an unfashionable Division One club, managed to sign a Brazilian? He wasn’t Ronaldo or Romario of course, but that didn’t really matter. I was captivated: and I know other City fans of a certain age were too.

He did things no other Bradford City player seemed capable of doing at that time in terms of his skill and the typical flair and flamboyance you came to expect from Brazilian footballers in the 1990s. One such example is pointed out by Dean Fearnley:

There were shortcomings; of course there were – why else would he be playing for City otherwise? But as I grew up falling more and more in love with Bradford City, I saw a player who embraced his time in England, and became more than just my favourite player. In fact, Ian Hemmens’ memory of Edinho is perfect:

Edinho scored three goals in his first five games for City, and I still remember the first at Valley Parade, the consolation in a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City. It was a stunning, stunning goal – as Paul recalls:

My dad had been to Oldham away the week previous and seen him score the winner in a 2-1 win and, on the way out of that Man City game, admitted he thought that I would love Edinho and would be telling my mates about him on the playground on Monday morning. He wasn’t wrong.

I have autograph books aplenty with Edinho’s signature. Programmes where the little pen pictures have only one signature: Edinho’s. I didn’t want anyone else’s. The way he dealt with City fans on limited English still makes me think back and smile about how he did what so many players have failed to do: embrace Bradford City. As we all know, if you take to Bradford City and show us some love, we will give plenty back in return. That was the case with Edinho.

In 1997/98, City comfortably consolidated themselves as a mid-table side in Division One – with Edinho the season’s top-scorer with ten. I can remember most of them like they were yesterday, as well as the trademark thumbs up he would give to the crowd every time he netted in claret and amber.

As City built towards a side that would eventually secure promotion to the Premier League, Edinho’s impact and appearances began to peter out. His last appearance – one of only three he would make in 1998/99 – came from the bench against Bury in October. Soon after, he was loaned to Dunfermline and wouldn’t return.

Yet you suspect most City fans of a certain age will never forget the boy from Brazil and the impact he had on us all growing up.

Your memories of Edinho

A unique insight into the history of professional football