Issue The Skipton Bantams

As told by Luke Lockwood

Life, they say, is full of ups and downs. For Bantams fans it’s been a long series of downs ever since “that” David Weatherall goal and that has perhaps been reflected in the support for the team.

But news of the projected re-formation of one once strong organisation might just offer a glimpse of comfort for those looking for evidence that the bottom of the cycle has been reached and the only way is – as Tony Blair and a group called Yazz and The Plastic Population used to say – up.

Ten years ago a Skipton-based Bradford City Supporters Club had more than 100 members – not bad in an area traditionally inhabited by Burnley and Leeds supporters. But somehow the club folded as the two key movers behind the group fell out with the board and, for whatever reason, decided that they should transfer their allegiance to Morecambe. Curious you might think, but, hey, there’s no accounting for taste.

With disappointment at the club’s decline giving way to despair, there was little enthusiasm to pick up the reins in Skipton – until now. Two Bantams fans have decided to attempt to recreate those heady days when guest speakers such as Stuart McGod, Lee Mills, Geoffrey Richmond and Jim Jeffries would attend a packed pub in the town and spread the gospel.

The two men behind the scheme are Chris Harbron, a former mayor of the town, and the retired ex-editor of the local rag (who introduced Bradford City reports into its sports pages).

“You still see lots of City shirts on the streets. Those Bantams fans did not just disappear so we’re trying to rekindle the interest,” said Ian Lockwood, the ex-journo. He’s not what you could call a lifelong City fan. “I was a York rugby league fan but my young son started getting interested in football. The dreaded words ‘Manchester United’ were heard so I decided to take him to watch a game of ‘real’ football,” he said. “Skipton is almost exactly the same distance from Elland Road, Valley Parade and Turf Moor. Of course Elland Road was like wanting to go to Mordor with all the other orcs and Burnley were away that Saturday so we tootled off to City. They lost 4-0 to Wycombe but they were now ‘our’ team.”

Their first meeting is in the Narrow Boat pub in Skipton at 8pm on Tuesday August 23. It’s a regular winner of the Keighley and Craven CAMRA Pub of the Season award so that’s a good start.

The first meeting is to gauge interest, form a committee and see what members want to do.

“We’ll follow what people want to do. We could sponsor a player, get speakers in but we need to decide some basic questions like how often do we meet and do we charge a membership fee,” said Lockwood. There are no plans to organise coaches to matches but that may well change if City reach the play-off finals (you have to be optimistic).

So far the well-established Shipley Bantams club has been offering advice and the club has been approached about providing a speaker for future meetings.

For further information, email skiptonbantams@gmail.com or turn up on the 23rd. If you can’t make it, an expression of interest would be valuable to see whether or not Skipton has fallen out of love with the Bantams