Thursday, 23 May 2013

If Carlsberg Did Football Seasons.... They'd Be Giving Bradford City a Call

I'm not sure we'll Bradford City will ever have a better season, but with Parkinson signing a 3 year deal, we can be sure he'll give it a bloody good go! Here are my top moments and pictures of a truly remarkable Bradford City season. (The list did start out as 5, but it wasn't enough!)

1. Promotion to League 2
We are going up, say we are going up! Oh yes! 14 years without a promotion and 6 years in League 2 - if there had ever been a team that deserved a promotion, it would be us. Getting to Wembley the first time was such an achievement, but a win in the playoff final was so much more important. The first appearance seemed to work in a favour, the players seemed relaxed from the start. There was nothing going to stop us and right from the first whistle we completely dominated and resembled a Swansea-like performance. After a few close chances, we got off to a perfect start with a Hanson goal after just 15 minutes. But just when we thought 1-0 up in 15 minutes was the perfect start, we scored a 2nd thanks to a great header by Mcardle.... and then guess what happened?! Yup, that's right we got a 3rd in under 30 minutes. Another great goal by Wells. 

It could have been 5-0 by half time literally. The atmosphere was incredible and I think we pretty much knew at half time that the promotion was ours. Though, we didn't really want to say and didn't start singing we are going up properly until around 80 minutes. The build up to the final whistle in injury time was incredible knowing it was ours. Seeing Jones and Ravenhill lift the trophy was a moment we will never forget. 

2. The Final Whistle At Villa Away
Taking a 3-1 lead to Villa was everything we would have wanted, but it's not an easy place to go. Got to admit I was horrendously nervous when the players were coming out and the Villa fans had their flags. Very intimidated. After conceding a goal from Benteke after about 20 minutes, things weren't looking good. But we never stopped battling and got our reward in 55th minute with another Hanson headed goal. It was a nervy last half hour, but despite Villa getting a second it wasn't enough. We won 4-3 on aggregate and were going to Wembley!!!! The atmosphere from the 5,000+ city fans was incredible and a moment I'll never forget.

Yes Carl McHugh!
3. Burton Away - Playoff Second Leg (The Whole Match)
After a poor display in the first leg we had it all to do away at Burton. We knew we could do it as long as we put in the performance we knew we were capable of. We were off to a great start, with Davies back in the team and Hanson and Wells playing well together, we looked a threat from the off. That all important goal to level the tie came after 27 minutes from Nahki Wells gambling on a backpass going wrong. Then for the first time in the leg, we were ahead thanks to a great finish by Hanson after a good battle from Wells. Despite a Burton penalty (which I'm still not convinced was), we went up the other end and scored again. Just brilliant, a great day out.

One thing I'll miss about League 2 grounds is the behind the goal terracing. For away supporters standing terraces creates the best atmosphere, although I did miss all three city goals as I couldn't see haha. God job for Sky replays!

4. First Trip To Wembley
This photo sums the day up
If anyone had have thought we'd be in a cup final at the start of the season, you'd put good money on it been the JPT final.... not a major cup final in the Capital One Cup. The build up to the day was incredible and like many other fans, I'll never forget the atmosphere in the Green Man pub beforehand. The good atmosphere continued through to Wembley way and right up to kick off. However, the atmosphere was drained by the nerves of the city fans and it turned out we had good reason to be. Swansea outplayed us in every way... until around 80th minute when every single city fan was on their feet and waving the flags

The result may not have been what we wanted but the atmosphere, experience and achievement to even be there was amazing and a moment all 34,000 of the Bantams in the stands won't forgot (nor the players)

5. Knocking Arsenal Out of the Cup
I literally would never have thought this moment would make number 5 on a seasons best list - that in itself speaks volumes! Garry Thompson scoring in the was a fantastic moment and we were so close to beating them in normal time....until Vermaelen scored in the 88th minute. After 30 long minutes, another penalty shootout was on the cards. It was the perfect start to penalties going 2 nil up, but we kept our status of penalty champions and won 3-2. An incredible moment witnessed by almost 24,000.

6. The Players Promotion After Party
I wouldn't have thought this would be on this list either.... but yup somehow we ended there. After seeing pictures from a few fans and players, I figured out they were at Valley Parade. So after quite a lot of drinks throughout the day, we decided to head down and see if we could get in... and we did. We bumped into Alan Connell and Carl McHugh on the way, we didn't know if they were strict about letting people into the suites so tried asking McHugh to take us in. Instead, they told us the password (Baldwins Promotion Party) which I'm still not sure if they were taking the piss, as no-one was on the door. So, we could just walk in and guess who the first person we met was.... Mr Parkinson himself. Literally couldn't hide my excitement and ran to give him a hug haha. Was the perfect (and unexpected) end to an incredible day.


7. Victory Parade
I missed the last victory parade we had, though I probably would have been too young to remember it. Seeing the city so full of people all celebrating Bradford's achievements this season was fantastic to see and more than made up for a bit of annoying commentary! The build up to the players coming in was a little disappointing, no offence to the women at the Pulse doing the commentary but it would have been better to have had someone like Tim or Stix doing it and getting the crowd chanting but seeing the players come through the town with the trophy was brilliant. It's so great to see some positive news and coverage for the city of Bradford too (the booing of the guy from the council was amusing too). If only half the people who were at Centenary Square for the victory parade bought season tickets, then we'd be seeing an almost full VP every week! 

At the start of the season we'd have taken just 1 of these 7 (preferably #1) and been more than happy but to be able to experience all 5 is just amazing. Other highlights were making the playoffs (after been 9 points behind), beating Wigan away (although I couldn't make that night), all the penalty shoot out wins (we'll take our 10th consecutive next season), a good JPT run and many great performances in the league. Now if all that doesn't bring back the passion in fans that was lost many years ago, then I don't know what could. Let's hope to see 13,000+ crowds at VP next season.   

Bring on League 1!

Would you swap any of these top 7 moments, or would something else make your list?

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