Issue The worst move for Wetherall

As told by Michael Wood

I’ll admit it. When David Wetherall signed for Paul Jewell’s Bradford City in 1999 for £1.5m I was dead against it.

I wanted Darren Moore at the heart of my Bantams Premiership back four and thought that Wetherall was too slight a guy for the job of trying to keep Bradford City in the top flight. Not only that – I thought – but he was too slight a man and paled next to the leadership of Stuart McCall or the increasing feisty influence of Dean Windass.

Wetherall was not the man.

I was wrong – obviously – and on the day that David decides that at the end of the season he will hang up his boots it is worth reflecting on his time at City.

His first season – playing an unbeatable every minute of the 1999/2000 Premiership season – was famed for culminating in the headed goal against Liverpool that kept the Bantams up. The next day Julian Rhodes was holding court in a restaurant describing Wetherall as the reason that City stayed up and it was hard to argue that thought his honest endeavour and not unskilful defending he had move into the pantheon of players.

Wetherall was missing for much of the season we were relegated and struggled with injuries for years. He could have left the club for Southampton, Manchester City or Coventry but stayed loan to the club that showed little loyalty to him. He blasted the club after he was made redundant in 2001’s administration and took the players on strike rather than let them risk injury in a friendly over at Hull City which could have cost careers considering the precarious position we were in at the time.

As much as any incident in his career this was Wetherall’s steel showing through. No endless love for the Bantams gripped Wetherall’s heart but rather a calculation of the effort that went into saving the club – twice – which he would not turn his back on.

He then turned his hand – to management on two occasion’s caretaking after the sackings of Nicky Law and of Colin Todd the latter of which resulted in relegation showing the biggest problem for Wetherall the manager was replacing Wetherall the player. A problem not lost on Stuart McCall.

McCall invites Wetherall to join the coaching staff – Wetherall’s contract allows him the job until 2010 – and rightly so. His calm defending and his attitude to the game are perfect.

They would have been perfect for any club. Indeed was one recalls the great times and great performances of David Wetherall – and while both may wane of late they are more than just memories – one is forced to wonder how much the man himself regrets coming to Valley Parade back in June 1999.

In many ways after the first season it could not have gone much worse for the man who has been City skipper for years. He has suffered three relegations and two administrations – hardly the route he planned for his career following the ill advised exit from Elland Road.

Wetherall wears such pains well. Any plaudits that come his way are deserved.