Issue #138 Neverend / Concerned

As told by Michael Wood

Football used to shut down in the summer.

When I was younger there was a period of the year where Bradford City were just not doing business. It was the start of the close season and – like a school at the end of July – the place was more or less empty. The modest club shop that sold rosettes and scarves was locked up, no players came and went, and if one was able to buy season tickets then few did.

To my young perception all football clubs seemed to be the same. In those days before the play-offs when the football season could be reliably predicted to end on a give date holidays were booked and the doors were shut. For at least a few weeks managers, players, chairmen and fans knew that everything frozen in some happy stasis.

It is obvious that that is no longer the case.

The football never really ends now. I’ve been following football for as long as I can remember and I’ve stopped being able to tell when it is season and when it is closed season.

Of course there is the obvious lack of Bradford City games to signify this although the proximity of the play-offs to the start of Euro 2016 and the overlap of pre-season with the end of that tournament means that in effect there will be a solid run of football for some City fans from June 2015 to at least May 2017.

I’m not really concerning myself with the lack of games though. Games have always been the brief moments of terror to punctuate the tedium. I’m talking about the respite from the pressures of active football, of which there seems to be no break.

The football club must be seen to be active in the pursuit of improvement at all times of the year and – perhaps – especially so in May, June and July where the barometer of performance is not able to indicate any upward trajectory. The current Bradford City manager Phil Parkinson answers all criticism with results, but without results the entire club looks static, and weak, until news is generated that tends upwards.

There will come a day when a manager is fired for not having signed anyone in June. It will not be Garry Monk sacked by the strange behaviour of an owner it will be the result of pressure from the group of supporters with an unquenchable need for assurances of improvement.

And so we have the faintly ludicrous spectre of the much respected Phil Parkinson spending the week filling in supporters on the movements of Ben Williams and Jamie Proctor.

Williams and Proctor are going to stag nights and to weddings and so it might take them some time to sign contracts offered but fear not, quenchless reader, for the club are doing everything they can.

Would anyone’s week been any worse had Proctor not been allowed to be chained to a lamp post naked without the entire Bradford City community being informed? Perhaps not. But it pre-emptively answers a question about what the club is doing to get better. Questions that are inevitably asked with unfathomable levels of increasing anger.

Who are these people, what do they want?