Bradford City? They’re a bit of a curious one to us; a team that seems to promise much – but then fails to see things through. Our assessment could well be a unique one, mind you. It just feels as if the Bantams are bigger than League Two. And the beating they handed out to us at Valley Parade during the 2021-2 campaign had all the signs of a team gunning for promotion. But they slid down the charts and didn’t really trouble the pacesetters. That wasn’t new to us either. So, you can see why they have us scratching our heads.
Our first few encounters with Bradford City gave us something to get excited about (normally). That certainly wasn’t what we got in 2019-20. It was, however, a season that fit a lesser-spotted pattern. We first met the Bantams in our 2010-1 League Two promotion campaign. Then we came up against them in our 2013-4 relegation campaign. So, it’s possible to say that something is normally going on in the background when our paths come together. That theory is somewhat on the back burner at the moment. Maybe it’ll reignite sometime soon?
Bradford City: The Facts
University of Bradford Stadium
Valley Parade, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD8 7DY
To be fair, the Bantams aren’t as old as we had them down as being. We’d have bet on them being of Victorian descent, but no. Old Vic had snuffed it two good ‘n’ proper years before this game of ours captured the minds of Bradfordians. Now, clubs who form nowadays have a long slog ahead of them to become a Football League side. Bradford City, however, had no such issue; elected into the Second Division at the drop of the hat (and at the expense of Doncaster). Wikipedia says it was a bid to convert the local egg-chasers. No pun intended.
Don’t let that fool you, however. The silver spoon aside, Bradford City took their chance convincingly. Just five seasons in, they were in the top flight. And just EIGHT years after forming, the FA Cup was in their trophy shed. To put it into some sort of perspective, it’d be like AFC MK Dons lifting the pot while in their third-or-so season in the Conference. It was certainly a golden era for the Bantams. After relegation in 1922, the club didn’t find a way back to the top flight until 1999. In 1966, they were the second-worst team in the entire League!
Of course, you’ll recall Bradford’s exploits in the FA Carling Premiership League as we kicked the 20th century well into touch. Defying the odds, Paul Jewell’s side kept their head above water and earned a second straight season in the realm of the bigger boys. The feat, sadly, couldn’t be repeated. In that second campaign, the Bantams were comfortably relegated – but you do have to go there to come back. Three years after relegation from the top flight, it was relegation from the second flight. Three years later, it was from the third flight.
How do we know the Bantams?
Bradford finding themselves in the League’s basement division is where we come in. For Boro’s first-ever away day after making the grade in the Conference was, as you guessed, Valley Parade.
How to get to Bradford City – Travel Information – Distance: 175 miles
Leave Stevenage by joining the northbound A1(M) and continue onto the A1 when the motorway ends at Baldock. Remain on the A1 and the A1(M) in its various guises for 145 miles before joining the westbound M62 towards Leeds and Manchester. After 20 miles, join the M606 for Bradford before exiting at J3 for the Bradford-bound A6177.
At traffic lights, turn right onto the A641 and continue for about a mile before taking the 1st exit at a roundabout for the A6181. Little over a mile later, turn left at traffic lights for the A650 towards Manningham. After half a mile more, Valley Parade will be on the right hand side.
The best option closest to the ground will be on-street parking. Otherwise, take a trek into central Bradford.
Station: BRADFORD FORSTER SQUARE
Services to: STEVENAGE
The walk from the station is not a long one by any means; less than a mile and around 20 minutes in fact. Come out of the station and head out on St Blaise Way. Turn left into Valley Road and walk the length of the superstore before another left turn into Hamme Strasse. After crossing the railway bridge, turn right into Midland Road and continue along here until the stadium appears on the left hand side.
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