From May, 2006
I was always very keen on Danny Forrest – released by Bradford City today aged 21 after 12 years at Valley Parade – but facts that had to be faced were that it was apparent that at this stage of his career Forrest did not look like the player who City need and he needed to be moved out.
Moved out is a harsh term to use about anyone who has been associated with a club for over a decade and applied the levels of passion to it that Danny has but as is right and proper when dealing with young players a graduation day – a day when a level is set and those who are above it prosper and those below fail – has to come and Forrest unfortunately falls under the bar.
Development of young players is a constant filtering process which is done on a timeline of player improvement and Forrest’s improvement seems to have been arrested.
There are some that would say that he was never “going to make a footballer” and they are entitled to that view but City are no less wrong to have persisted with him as they were to pick up the 16 year old Stuart McCall and give him a chance. Development is about graduations and affording chances for young players to rise through the ranks and as Forrest falls under the graduation mark along comes Joe Brown to test himself against it.
Forrest’s release to give Brown a chance is common in football and at City. Lee Sharpe was allowed to leave Manchester United to give Ryan Giggs the left wing position and at City Graeme Tomlinson was pushed through the ranks by pushing Scott Partridge out of the club. Partridge went on to a respectable career – at one point he lived with Helen Chamberlain – and had a decade of football after City let him go. One hopes – fervently hopes that Forrest can do that same and he can use leaving his home town club as the spur to move on as he seems unable to do at City and Halifax.
In the meantime he – and I – have some great memories of the local boy shining out in a sea of rent-a-players like Andy Gray and professionals winding down like Robert Molenaar and playing for Bradford City as if it meant something to them because it meant something to them.
Joe Brown, Joe Colbeck, Tom Penford, John Swift, Craig Bentham et al are all carrying on it the footsteps reforged by Danny Forrest. I know he enjoyed the goals he score din claret and amber – I saw them all – and I enjoyed him scoring them and as he leaves I can only hope that he enjoys the memories as much as I do.
For my money the Bradford City Independent Supporters Clubs was a genuinely significant event to come out of City’s double administrations and that it has now closes signals a defeat of practice and not of the idea.
The BCISC has closed through a lack of interest – it is hard to continue even the best of works without seeming to have a positive impact – and it must be said that a large wall of indifference from the club is blamed for that lack of interest. Rightly or wrongly the board of BCISC expected more from the people involved at Bradford City FC and what they got did not match expectations. My own view is that this club and every club should take a role as the facilitator of supporters initiatives and that they did not do that puts the Bantams in common with the vast majority of football clubs the world over which is par for the course but perhaps not reflective of the promises made following what still remains the largest fundraising in football administration history that ensured we still have a club.
The practice of the BCISC might be failed – and with the money it brought into the club I’d not use the word “fail” so lightly – but the idea remains an example. Supporters running clubs about supporting the club and in the interest of supporting the club away from the commercialised world of what is considered “official” and can be brought into the fold of the company that runs the team.
The idea that supporters do not need official sanction to group together for a common cause – a cause that should be fully and utterly backed by the club but has not been in this case and is not in most cases – is a powerful one.
It is the idea that football – specifically supporting Bradford City – should be something that continues through the week and is not picked up and put down with scarf and shirt on a weekend. It is the idea that a group of people should get together socially joined by the unity of backing the club but not exclusively to support the club. As many arguments over politics, pie eating and the length of piers went on at the meetings BCISC pushed as did discussions on football and clubs never seem comfortable with that idea.
Perhaps you or I would have done things different but for two years they did do things and here at BfB we were more than happy to back what they did. They showed spirit – the spirit that did generate a quarter of a million pounds to keep City in business – and carried that spirit into the nuts and bolts of following the club. They are gone now but like a single Velvet Underground album gave seed to a thousand garage bands so one hopes the spirit of BCISC – that supporters are not dependent on the club for attention like a child but (albeit with the need for assistant from the centre ground of the club) can grow into organisations strong and true in their own right – will be planted in the minds of more supporters.
And more supporters will want to make something more of their Bradford City than a weekend thing and more supporters will want to build pride in Bradford City and that all these things will be done in spite of if not because of the business of Bradford City’s involvement.
The BCISC is gone but the people in it deserve credit for the idea which was as acorns are to mighty trees for the want of the light of the sun.