Bradford City FA Cup Winners 1911 Centenary Celebration Dinner

On the evening of 26 April 1911 Bradford City’s FA Cup winning team arrived back in the city following their 1-0 victory over Newcastle United in a replayed FA Cup Final at Old Trafford, Manchester. The scenes which greeted their arrival in Bradford were unprecedented. An estimated 100,000 people were on the streets to welcome their heroes; an incredible third of the entire population of the city.

The team arrived at Bradford Exchange station. Two horse-drawn charabancs took the players across the city centre to the Midland Hotel where they were to celebrate their famous victory. Sat alongside the driver of the first charabanc was Bradford City’s captain, and goalscorer in the FA Cup final Jimmy Speirs. On his lap was the brand new Bradford designed FA Cup. In an astonishing coincidence 1911 was the first year the current FA Cup was used. It had been designed by the Bradford jewellers Fattorini’s. Thanks to a first half header by Jimmy Speirs the FA Cup made a rapid return to the city of its birth.

Speirs held the cup aloft to deafening cheers as the charabancs crawled through the packed streets. Down Bridge Street, around Town Hall Square and along Market Street should have taken only a matter of minutes – the journey took over three quarters of an hour. When the players arrived in the sanctuary of the Midland Hotel, a mass of humanity crammed themselves into the streets outside the hotel. Speirs appeared at an upper window of the hotel to give the crowds a final glimpse of the silver trophy. Speirs must have looked down on a sea of cheering faces. What a moment it must have been. Without doubt the biggest celebration in the city of Bradford’s history.

Exactly one hundred years since those momentous events the FA Cup itself will return to Bradford will be in pride of place during a centenary celebration dinner which will take place at the Midland Hotel. One hundred years to the very hour when Speirs and his players arrived at the Midland Hotel in triumph diners will be raising a glass to their remarkable triumph. During the three course meal speeches made on that unforgettable night will be recreated and a brass band will play tunes from the Edwardian era. The Saltaire Brewery is producing a batch of Glorious 1911 vintage ale based on the same recipe that was drunk by the players in 1911. The real ale will be on sale in the Midland’s bar during the course of the evening.

The event has been organised by the bantamspast team at Valley Parade comprising Dave Pendleton, John Dewhirst and John Ashton. During the last year there has been fund raising through the sale of enamel badges and a cheque for £5,000 will be formally presented to Professor David Sharpe and his staff from the Burns Unit.

On the night diners will have the opportunity to purchase a number of limited edition collectibles which are being produced to commemorate the evening including a programme, rosette and enamel badges with proceeds donated to the Bradford Burns Unit. Copies of David Pendleton’s book Glorious 1911 will be on sale and the author will be on hand to sign copies. Directors of Bradford City AFC have been invited and several former players have promised to attend.

The evening is close to being a sell out but a few tickets are still available. They are £25 a head and can be ordered by sending a cheque payable to: BANTAMSPAST, PO BOX 307, Shipley, BD18 9BT. Dress: jacket and tie for gentlemen, dress for ladies.

Further details from John Dewhirst, email glorious1911@paraders.co.uk and/or from the websites www.paraders.co.uk or www.bantamspast.co.uk or by asking one of the the bantamspast team in bantamspast museum above the club shop before kick off on match days.

Playing favourites

Jon McLauglin was left cooling his heels again on Saturday after Peter Taylor dropped the keeper to return Lenny Pidgeley to the side for the weekend win over Wycombe. Talking to the T&A the City manager offered his sympathy saying

Jon has done nothing wrong but you have to make a decision that you think is right. I thought it was a good game to bring Lenny back.

Pidgeley’s return from four games out with a virus saw him excel while Lewis Hunt – survivor of a penalty appeal which I would have been surprised if it was given at the other end for City – seemed to be shoved back into the side as soon as he could be. Luke Oliver is nailed into the team thanked for playing up front while Omar Daley was played all around the field but did not get a note of thanks from manager Peter Taylor when he exited the club.

Taylor stands accused of playing favourites.

Compared in style to sometime City boss John Docherty who peopled his team with former Millwall youth players Taylor’s lads from Wycombe: Oliver, Hunt, injured Tommy Doherty and now, ahem, departed Gavin Grant; are perceived to have a leg up over other players in the side.

When Doherty cost City a goal at the start of the season Taylor was quick to jump to the midfielder’s defence. When McLaughlin erred the finger was quickly pointed. As a way of managing one’s players some would approve of singling out players for criticism and some would not – Stuart McCall would never allow his team to be criticised accepting any blame on himself, Taylor points fingers at the squad and refuses to accept a scrap of responsibility – but it is not the criticism but who Taylor aims it at which provokes a response.

If McLaughlin can be hung out to dry why can’t Doherty? If Oliver has to be thanked for playing (poorly) out of position why isn’t Daley who played on both wings, up front and at the front of central midfield during his last season at City?

Perhaps the question is framed wrong.

Having brought four players from his previous club Wycombe – as well as the odd face from Hull City who one assumes the manager has a contact at the KC Stadium who prompts him as to who might be worth signing – Taylor obviously has his favourite players. Luke Oliver has played for the City manager at three clubs. There must be something that Taylor likes in him.

With Oliver, and Hunt for that matter, one doubts the players were signed for their raw ability so much as their attitudes. Taylor knows them, knows how they react, and want that attitude in his squad at Valley Parade.

Luke Oliver has by no means the most impressive defender I’ve ever seen but his attitude is extremely admirable. He is one of the most discreet players I’ve ever watched able to box up mistakes and errors he makes – and he makes them – and put them deeply in the back of his mind. No sulking, no dragging a bad performance from one game to the next, just getting on with getting on.

It is not hard to see why Taylor defends that attitude. McCall’s team had a nasty habit of taking one defeat into the next game, and to the next. If Taylor wants to avoid that – and he should – then the attitude that Oliver has is important. Ditto Hunt, ditto Doherty.

Why shield those players while hanging out others to dry? One would have to know the players man for man to be able to make that call but one might speculate that players who have that attitude Taylor wants – be they his recruits from former clubs or those players he found at City who signed up for the Taylor plan – get the protection while the others are chided unless they come into the fold. Michael Flynn was fulsome in his praise of Taylor, and is never criticised.

The results of Taylor’s methods are questionable – we are not on for promotion and it looks as if the manager will be on his way next season – but the manager has to be allowed to manage and part of Taylor’s management techniques is to set up examples of good attitudes and good behaviours protecting those players while leaving others on the outside, tempting them to come in.

Management by playing favourites, if you will.

Recent Posts