Remembering Wolves and promotion

I tell the story after a drink or two in the bars of Leeds to colleagues – everyone in Bradford has heard it I guess – or when I want to impress on people the relationship that I have with Stuart McCall.

It goes like this. Wolves, 1999 ten years ago today and the home side have hit the post but that was cleared and the Bantams clad in white come away with the ball – half way into the Wolves half – and Gareth Whalley is dribbling and I’m sure I can see Paul Jewell shouting at him to keep hold and run with the ball but I don’t see how I could have known that cause my eyes are fixed on Whalley and the ball.

In retrospect Wolves had probably considered the draw gone once the free kick came back form the post because Whalley did not seem to be under tight challenges but the skillful Irishman as he dribbles the ball away. Perhaps the Referee is the closest man to the midfielder because I seem to remember seeing both at the same time and I remember seeing the Referee blow his whistle.

Frantically my eyes are searching then – darting around from white shirt to white shirt in something of a panic. Matt Groening says that a good character can be recognised by his silhouette and mine are looking for the short man, the shoulder length hair, the gap between sock tops and shorts being unusually small, the black number four on his back.

Stuart McCall at Wolves

And they pick him out arms aloft at 135 degree angles to his body in a pose that would become famous.

Overwhelmingly that is my memory of the 9th of May 1999 at Wolves when Bradford City were promoted to the Premiership.

The club is now split into the years BC/AD. After that day everything changed at Valley Parade and the current slump ten years on marks a stark contrast to that year of rise to the top flight and retention of top flight status that followed rather than many years when finishing in the top half of the fourth division would have represented a good return.

Perhaps it is a feeling that having achieved on that day ten years ago nothing should be considered out of the club’s reach. On that day City had a Holy trinity of Stuart McCall on the field, Paul Jewell in the dug out and Geoffrey Richmond as chairman. Leadership and character which many would suggest that City lack at the moment. What would McCall the manager have done for a McCall the player on the field in 2008/2009?

Something to be considered some other time. Now Wolves and your memories – if you care to share them in the comments below – on that win at Wolves that happened exactly ten years and three, four, five spasms of the second hand ago.

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