The 2010/11 season reviewed: part four, player of the season

David Syers has impressed his team mates, the T&A, Peter Taylor, Peter Jackson, scouts from Leeds United and Huddersfield Town (reportedly) and now BfB as he scoops our player of the season.

BfB Player of the Season 2010/2011
  1. David Syers
    No surprises here. The hard working midfielder plucked from non league football has made a real impression in his first season as a pro. His full blooded performances, willingness to put his foot in, and knack of popping up in the box at the right time yielded a decent goalscoring return from midfield. His position as City’s top scorer this season says it all about what type of campaign that the team have had.
  2. Luke O’Brien
    Versatile players are often under appreciated and O’Brien’s ability to play anywhere on the left hand side of the pitch that the two managers have employed him has impressed. O’Brien’s time at left back saw him drive forward well getting the ball into dangerous areas. His time on the left wing saw him provide a sureness for the full back. He played left midfield for Taylor and got stuck in. Sometimes one worries that the idea that the Bantams fans respect a player who gives his all is all but gone but O’Brien’s recognition suggests that City’s supporters appreciate a bit of skill and a lot of hard work.
  3. Omar Daley
    If Omar’s time at City is up we can at least look back at his time here with fond memories. When he came back from his loan with Rotherham he gave the whole place a massive boost in the bid of survival. His stunning strike against Aldershot at home helped City win their biggest match in some decades and other highlights include his deadly brace against Oxford at home and tripping over his own shoelaces during a dance down the wing on his return match against Burton at home. Omar Daley – we salute you as the only flare player we have had since Beni Carbone! The only player that has you on the edge of your seat with his blistering pace. The only player that opposing defences fear. The only player that you can love and hate within 30 seconds of play as he drifts past defender after defender before flying a horrendous shot into row Z of the Kop or make the most blindingly obvious terrible choice of a final ball.
  4. Luke Oliver
    Big Luke is nobody’s favourite player. He makes mistakes. He is not the best with the ball at his feet. He makes Lee Bullock look fast. However, his performances in the second half of the season were much improved compared to what we are used to from him – and nobody made more starting appearances this season than Oliver. The fact that even Jackson selected him every time after the removal of his biggest promoter – Peter Taylor- perhaps proved that he is one of the two best defenders that we can call on at centre back these days.
  5. Steve Williams
    Young Williams progress has somewhat stood still this campaign – however he remains only player in the squad capable of one day playing in the Championship. He has occasionally shown glimpses this season of why Sven Goran Erickson is said to be checking his progress with an eye catching two games in the Carling Cup and he popped up with a vital last minute winner in the home game against Gillingham, as well as a brace against Stockport at home that helped the team to victory on that occasion and ultimately, survival in the football league.
And an honourable mention for…
The Lost Solider

For the first four months it was Michael Flynn/Simon Ramsden, then we’d score more goals is we recalled Jake Speight from Port Vale, Hanson out for a while, Tommy Doherty gets injured and we realise how good he was, Daley goes to Rotherham and suddenly becomes our best/most loyal player, Duff aka “the best centre half in the league” – not that any City fan had ever heard of him before he signed.

Syers ‘wasted’ at right back by Peter Jackson, Luke O’Brien dropped and suddenly becomes popular, “we need Bully in their to calm it all down”, shouldn’t got rid of Leon Price, “Steve Williams is class”, “that Chib Chilaka scored a hatrick for Harrogate, get him in”, and so on and so on.

The truth is every one of these players disappointed when in the team, but the one that wasn’t there on any given day was always our best player when you listen to the VP faithful/management/chairmen.

Sweetest wins of the season
  1. Bradford City 3 Stockport County 2
  2. Barnet 0 Bradford City 2
  3. Bradford City 2 Rotherham United 1
  4. Bradford City 2 Aldershot Town 1
  5. Bradford City 3 Cheltenham Town 1
Top 5 loan players
  1. Jason Price
    The big man came in, seemed to fit in, and then wandered off disinterested.
  2. Tom Adeyemi
    A nice starter season from the tidy man from Norwich City.
  3. Kevin Ellison
    Not everyone’s cup of tea but the winger from Rotherham scored a vital goal and raised some Hell.
  4. Richard Eckersley
    The right back from Burnley let no one down.
  5. Oliver Gill
    Sent back to Manchester United injured Gill did put in a good display or two.
Five moments we thought we might go up…
  1. The eight minutes that City led Shrewsbury through Tom Adeyemi’s goal on the opening day of the season.
  2. Beating a strong Nottingham Forest side 2-1 in the League Cup in August. Jake Speight was quality, Shane Duff a revelation at the back, and who is this young lad named David Syers?
  3. Defeating a Bury side – which had won seven and drawn one of their last eight games – in their own backyard. “Peter Taylor’s Bradford Army!”
  4. Another 1-0 victory over Bury in early January, which placed us on the brink of the play offs. The second half of the season is set to be exciting. Erm…
  5. Two wins from three under Peter Jackson in March, and maybe, just maybe, we can go on a late run. That was the sentiment widely expressed in the pub before kick off against Northampton. “Remember ’96?”
Five moments we thought we might go down…
  1. A truly pathetic 1-0 home loss to Morecambe in early October leaves the Bantams second bottom of the entire Football League. That it was still early days was the only crumb of comfort.
  2. 2-1 down to bottom of the table, nine-men Stockport midway through the second half at Valley Parade in February.
  3. Four defeats from five in April that culminated in a 4-0 Friday night thrashing at Southend. The end is nigh.
  4. A 3-0 thumping at Accrington on Easter Saturday. Can’t see us getting another point this season.
  5. The second half against Aldershot, two days later, where the Valley Parade scoreboard kept displaying goal updates from around the country which were pushing City close and closer to the bottom two. Thank goodness for this young lad named David Syers.
It wasn’t all bad, honest – five things to look back on the 2010/11 with fondness
  1. A decent cup run on the centenary season of the club’s finest hour. The performances from the players and the atmospheres generated by supporters made the League Cup games with Notts Forest and Preston memorable nights. More of the same next season, please.
  2. The celebrations at Barnet in October. Four-and-a-half games without a goal, then in the space of four minutes Leon Osborne and Tom Adeyemi spark unbridled jubilation on the terraces.
  3. Those fleeting glimpses of flair from Omar Daley, Tommy Doherty and Lee Hendrie. Players of great skill, who on their day looked a cut above this level.
  4. The incredible backing from the travelling fans at Chesterfield in January. A 20-minute rendition of ‘Bradford Army’ leading up to and during half time was City fans at their best all season.
  5. Getting Ronnie Moore the sack. No way did Tom Adeyemi’s long-range belter cross the line against Rotherham in March; but the linesman’s given it, and less than two weeks after this ‘defeat’ Moore was given the boot.

Where do you see the club in a decade?

The win over Nottingham Forest has done much to get City’s season under way and optimism is higher as a result but winnings game, and indeed promotions, while wonderful are only parts of a wider progress which fans hope the club will make – or fear it will not – in the coming years. The weight of the question is significant. Clubs up and down the country talk in short terms about the weekend matches and the end of a season but supporters are with the club for decades, for the long term.

“We all have high hopes for City this season but where do you see the club in a decade’s time and what are the club doing now which will bring us to that stage?”

Jason Mckeown City Gent & BfB Writer

The nature of the question “Where do you see yourself/the company/the football club in x years time?” always fabricates a positive frame of mind when asked to ponder it.

The future is always something to look forward to, and inevitably you think of how today’s problems will have been overcome and everything will be perfect. You throw in a tint of realism to make sure your vision achievable – it would be foolish to predict that in a decade’s time Bradford City will be Premier League champions and about to embark on a Champions League campaign. Yet ultimately your 10-year future will be a grandiose improvement on matters now.

But sadly life doesn’t seem to work out like that, and one only needs to think back 10 years ago and recall where Bradford City were then to see how things can easily change for the worse too. If asked this question at the start of the 2000-01 season, I dare say you and I would have agreed City would continue their upwards progress and become fully-established as a Premier League club. Enjoying the thrills of beating Leeds United and Manchester United home and away, of lifting the FA Cup, of playing in Europe on a semi-regular basis and of having incredibly- talented players preparing in state-of-the-art training facilities.

Our vision would not have featured three relegations in six years or going into administration twice or Geoffrey Richmond turning out to be something of a traitor or a guy who owns a theme park running off with the deeds to our stadium or losing home and away to an abysmal Stockport County or Gareth Edds or crowds dwindling or a legendary player failing as manager or Bradford City 0 Accrington Stanley 3.

We can ponder the next ten years and dream of how our current woes – stuck in League Two, not owning our own ground – will have been addressed and Valley Parade will be a utopia of happiness. But even if the next decade delivers success, it will bring new issues to worry over.

So I honestly have no idea where this club will be in 10 years time – but I bet we’ll have something to moan about.

Paul Firth City fan and Author of Four Minutes To Hell

Ten years ago Bradford City were justifiably proud of staying in the Premier League and, with the riches that came with survival, looked forward to seeing some star names perform further magic. It is not necessary to go back over what happened in those ten years, unless there is someone out there who has learned nothing from two administrations.

So, trying to look ahead another ten years, the prime target must be financial security, even if that dampens the expectations of the fans. Maximising the income and minimising the outgoings will require perpetual vigilance from those who control the purse strings.

Maximising the income still means solving the riddle of where to pitch ticket prices, not least for the younger fans who are the future of an club. Today’s schoolchildren will be buying their own tickets in ten years time, provided they can be kept with the club. Only if at least two promotions follow will television income be a major proportion of revenue.

Minimising outgoings means a player budget that is sensible and adhered to. At Valley Parade it also means not paying huge sums in rent – so it means finding a way of owning the ground that is less costly than present obligations.

And speaking of today’s youngsters, all clubs bar those who are content to rely on billionaire owners need to develop their youth system. City will need to keep finding the next Dean Richards or Andy O’Brien, even if the end product is not a first-team centre back, but money from a bigger club paid on the progress of a very young player.

All of this requires skilful management off the field, preferably by someone with an astute business brain and experience of the successful running of a big company. If that someone was also a Bradford City supporter, he or she would be the perfect person to secure the medium-term future of the business that all clubs must be.

With that sort of future to look forward to, success on the field is more realistic. As illustrated recently by BfB, two promotions in ten years is achievable. Established in the Championship, three home grown heroes, our own ground, 20,000 crowds and financial security. I’d take that now.

Alan Carling Chair of the Bradford City Supporters Trust

I know where I would like the club to be in a decade’s time. As Julian Rhodes has emphasized many times, one of the main factors holding the club back financially at our current level is the rental bill for Valley Parade that has to be paid annually to the Gibb Pension Fund. But there has always been an obvious way to deal with this issue, which ticks many other boxes for both the club and the District. If Valley Parade is brought back into community ownership, the rent can be renegotiated, and the stadium developed as the focus for a fan-friendly, community-oriented club. And if both the Council and the Bradford Bulls were involved, there would be further benefits on the commercial side, and a stronger, unified presence for full-time professional sport in Bradford.

Just as there’s a restrained optimism on the playing side this season, I have a similar feeling about the project for Valley Parade. As Mark Lawn has now revealed in public, the Gibb Pension Fund has already named its price for the stadium, and the club has swung behind the idea of ground-sharing with the Bulls. There is a new administration at City Hall, which seems to recognize that fresh thinking is needed for the Council’s sports strategy, after all the problems with the Odsal Sports Village. It is going to be very difficult, of course, for Bulls’ fans to accept a move away from their Odsal home. Good luck to them if they were able to develop a new super-stadium there – we might even have considered joining them. But as things stand, it seems very unlikely that the finance will be available from either the public or the private sectors for a big new building project. And they still have to find new playing accommodation from somewhere within the next two or three years. This surely leaves ground-sharing at Valley Parade as the Bulls’ best available option.

Putting all this together, there is a huge opportunity waiting to be seized, and I would love City fans to be an integral part of it. Will it happen? Who knows… it would require people to work together in ways that may be unfamiliar to them, and feel a bit uncomfortable. But I hope that the club can get over its fears, and work constructively with supporters to build something special around Valley Parade – not just the bricks and mortar, but the inclusive community spirit. One thing is for sure. No-one is going to come in over the next few years to hand us success on a plate. So why not try doing it for ourselves?

Who do you think will be City’s most important player this season

On The 2010/2011 Season

Football is about players – or so The Great Man once said – and with Bradford City’s squad more tweaked than overhauled City fans will be able to see the movement and – one hopes – progress of various players this term and it is in this spirit The Barry Articles ask:

“Who do you think will be City’s most important player this season?”

Steve Baker Stalwart City fan and Bantams Bar regular

I think the most important player for City this season will be Robbie Threlfall. Taylor has assembled a squad of 6ft somethings, so is clearly playing for tactics that allow the team to make the most from set pieces. Threlfall’s delivery from set pieces for much of last season was excellent and led to many goals. If City are to mount a promotion challenge, then we need to make the most of set pieces. Gone hopefully are the days of the “Schumacher” free kick, where the ball was played short with the recipient panicking and not knowing what to do with the ball next.

Assuming Threlfall is the number 1 choice left back, he surely will be tasked with free kicks and corners. His performances dropped at the end of the season – maybe due to fitness and maybe due to not knowing where he would be playing his trade next season. His ability to get the ball in the box from wide areas quickly and with pace are something a lot of our players could take note of. If he has a good season and delivers like he did at the start of his loan spell, I expect City to do well. Taylor has bolstered the attack after Thorne and Boulding left, and he seems to have allowed Michael Flynn to have licence to push on, with Bullock and The Doc protecting the Welshmans roams forward.

Having said all this, I hope that we do unearth a gem from somewhere and they come along and have an outstanding season and play a major part in a promotion push. If you discount the astute loan signings of Adeyami and Moult, look for Scotty Nielson to make the impact he promised last season, and for young Ryan Harrison to make his mark on the first team fringes.

Patrick Dowson City fan and Musician

So many options, and on the face of it Gareth Evans‘ name may not be the first to spring to mind. I almost went for McLaughlin, and I am looking forward to seeing his development. But whilst we seem spoiled for choice in central Midfield and Defence, it is where the goals are coming from that most concerns me.

Hanson should kick on and continue to be the imperious aerial presence we know and revere. But with Speight and Moult as unknown – albeit promising – quantities, we need to look to our number 9 to develop into the player that we saw scoring two of the best Bradford City goals of recent years in one glorious game. It’s impossible not to be impressed by his work rate, but inconsistency in front of goal and loss of confidence blighted his season and he needs to improve his 1 in 4 goal ratio if he is to succeed. If he can continually reach the form that he started and finished last term with, and avoid the slump that came between we could have a real player on our hands.

Taylor may play him on the wing or down the middle – and the debate is still open as to what his best position is – but with his enthusiasm and versatility, I would expect his name to be on the starting line-up more often than not. Especially since last season’s renaissance coincided with the appointment of Taylor.

BfB Player of the Season 2009/2010 is James Hanson

There is a lyricism to the thirteen goals James Hanson has scored in his first season in professional football that brightens a dour season for City. Plucked from Guiseley by the old partnership of Stuart McCall and Mark Ellis Hanson was – eventually – paid for in part by a supporter raising money and perhaps it was that that convinced the shelf-stacker turned striker to seize every moment on the field at Valley Parade. Leaving nothing in the dressing room is Hanson’s style and City’s reward is a target man who weighs in with goals.

As supporters though Hanson’s tale is far more a flight of fancy. If he – the guy who used to sell you fags in the Co-op in Idle – can become top scorer at City then it allows us the slither of a dream that we all could be, or could have been, and in doing so adds a touch of romance to the often cynical world of modern football.

Read on, dear reader for the rest of our praise and about our top fives of the year.

Has lowering prices really been for the good of the club?

Events on Saturday as the club remembered the fifty six people who died in the fire of 1985 were both touching and upsetting and as the afternoon unfolded Bradford City fans were shown in many lights with an impeccability observed minute’s silence at the start of the game and an ill-advised pitch invasion that culminated in an aggressive taunting of the visiting Northampton Town fans at the end.

City’s fans are welcome up and down League Two charged £20 a time as the biggest away support in the league but the reduced cost of following the club at home sees City operating on a reduced budget the money that used to go to Valley Parade perhaps being spread around the division by our away support which has run into trouble down at Exeter last season while witnessing problems caused by other fans down at Luton last term.

We consider these events and others as The Barry Articles asks the question…

“Has lowering prices really been for the good of the club?”

Dave Pendleton Bantamspast Curator & Former City Gent Editor

I’m disturbed by the implication of this question as it seems to suggest that those who misbehaved on Saturday were poor and are only at Valley Parade because of the cheap season tickets. Of course, it is total nonsense. Remember the much more violent scenes when City played Cardiff on the last day of the season in the 1990s? There were no cheap season tickets that day. The question even mentions trouble at Exeter last season – our longest away trip and one hardly likely to attract those on the breadline. I could go on to mention last day pitch invasions that have taken place for decades, or the 1970s and early ’80s when Valley Parade was notorious for hooliganism. The fact that we were shocked by Saturday’s events tells us that we have moved on significantly since those dark days.

The cheap season ticket deal has been the best thing to happen to City over the last decade. It has kept our support levels high and has brought football back to the people. We should be immensely proud. Frankly, if ticket prices were raised all it would do is bring in the same income with less people in the ground. Even if we did suddenly enjoy a windfall would that automatically translate to success? Last season tells us that there nothing is guaranteed by throwing more money into players’ wages. Football has to break its unsustainable wage inflation. It has to start somewhere, so why not Valley Parade? As I’ve written before I would even reduce the matchday admission prices. Then football would really have been brought back to ALL of the people and not just those committed enough to buy season tickets. There are many Bradfordians who cannot even afford our cheap season ticket deals and yet they are denied the chance to support City by ridiculously high matchday admission prices. £20 for Division Four football is far too high – another reason to try as hard as possible to sort out once and for all the ownership of Valley Parade.

I hope we keep the cheap season tickets and continue to be a beacon for the rest of football. The obscenity of wages in the Premier League has caused a trickle down effect to reach right down the divisions. Of course, at Valley Parade there are few, if any, on unsustainable wages. That is a good thing, even if it costs us success in the short term. The fact that our club is operating within its means is another thing we should be proud of. We can hold our collective heads up high – despite the hundred or so idiots who let down the Bradford City family on Saturday. Bad behaviour is bad behaviour and has nothing to do with the price of tickets.

Adam Hepton One of the first BfB Writers

Die-hards of the club will buy a season ticket no matter what, unless something terrible happens in their lives and they cannot do so. A cold hard economic fact is that most fans (of any club) do not fall into this category.

The club has increased the gross number of people attending games, but its core fanbase remains the same. These “casual” fans are perhaps even more demanding, and it is not cheap tickets that will get them to stay and become a die-hard fan: it is making them feel special.

With less money coming in, and the money spent on facilities and stadium security not being increased to match the amount of attendees, the matchday experience is suffering: we have terrible food and drink offered to us at a premium, and we have to suffer the club’s name being tarnished by morons rushing at the away fans.

The club has decided that more people who might well go to Leeds or Huddersfield next week coming through the turnstiles is preferential to providing adequately for those who’ll always come – but you don’t get awards or column inches for doing that, do you?

Paul Firth City fan and Author of Four Minutes To Hell

Talking to supporters of other teams, they are all amazed at our season ticket prices. They suddenly realise we’re not a ‘big spending club’, despite our comparatively massive gates. Such media reporting as we attract is favourable – pricing football for the masses.

The original impetus came from the fear that normal pricing would produce a poor atmosphere in a huge stadium. Sometimes we wonder whether the existing atmosphere is worth it – see the original ‘Barry’, as in booing. Now we wonder whether we really want some of those who could not otherwise afford to come regularly.

Although we clearly don’t want the mindless idiots, the answer is not to increase prices just to try to keep them out. Some poorer fans are still true fans; some better off fans still ran on to the pitch.

The board must conduct its budgetary process every year. It wants the best income it can achieve, to provide the highest viable player budget. It is a delicate exercise. How many would still pay another £10 a season? £20? £30?

We need to attract families. They are the next generation of supporters. We need to remind all fans that we are special. We can have low prices and proper supporters.

In twelve months time what is the minimum you would consider to be success for Bradford City?

The season at Valley Parade wends towards a disappointing end without much to play for and with minds focused on next August and the start of a new campaign. Much work is to be done between then and now by the club and management to get City into an improved position which we all hope to be in in one year’s time. In one year from now many hope the Bantams will doing much more than playing out until the end of the season and so The Barry Articles ask…

“In twelve months time what is the minimum you would consider to be success for Bradford City?”

Richard Wardell Fundraiser in times of trouble and former BCST man

Success means different things to different people. Personally, I think that I have lower expectations than most supporters so success in my eyes might not be success in another supporter’s eyes. For me, on the playing side of matters I would like to see two or three home grown players established in the first team following in the footsteps of Luke O’Brien;

I would like to see us produce a giant killing in the FA Cup as we celebrate 100 years since we won this magical trophy and I would like us to be making a strong push for the play offs by playing some attractive passing football. Off the field, I would like to think that the club would own Valley Parade again and that our finances are in the black. I would also hope that the club will be offering cheap season ticket prices again for the Bradford public. One final thought; I hope that we have the same manager as we currently have to offer some medium to long term stability for the club.

Jason Mckeown City Gent & BfB Writer

The minimum expectation for me next season has to be a strong promotion push – otherwise the decision to allow Stuart McCall to leave in February would have to be re-questioned.

Last season the club gambled heavily on promotion and lost, with the result a severe slashing of playing budgets. Nevertheless the expectation from many fans and some of those in the boardroom was McCall still had to do better this season. With limited resources, I believe McCall began building a squad that could grow and develop in time, helped by clever acquisitions along the way. It wasn’t the quick win though; hence the pressure for McCall to walk when it became obvious promotion was beyond us this season.

Under Peter Taylor the goalposts have shifted and greater resources are available, subsequently realistic expectations of what can be achieved must rise. I personally hope Taylor doesn’t release too many players this summer, but if he chooses to undo McCall’s initial building work it has to be for the purpose of speeding up progress. At least one of the two owners and many supporters advocated the abandoning of long-term to the point it’s almost become a dirty word, so next season we need to see the fruits of this different approach.

Not that I believe failure to be promoted should lead to Taylor’s dismissal; but with greater resources and experience than McCall, he should be able to take the club forwards next season. We have to be looking back in a year’s time and agreeing progress has been made. We have to be looking back in a year’s time and agreeing the decision to abandon McCall’s team-building attempts was the right one.

Steve Baker Stalwart City fan and Bantams Bar regular

I think with Taylor in charge, his pieces of the puzzle in place like facilities and pitch surface, promotion should be achieved. If however Taylor isnt in charge, who will come in? Largely it is an unknown until the manager is nailed down to a contract, so its a little bit chicken before egg at the moment.

I think we will manage to keep a lot of the good young players we have and they can have a good crack at the league next season, but I worry that if we dont go up next year, the crop of youngsters we have will get snaffled up by other clubs. There are easily 4 or 5 young players who could play in a league above L2 (Hanson, Williams, McLaughlin, O’Brien and Neilson) and you cant expect them to stick around for another season in the basement. Taking these players out of our squad would dessimate it. Look how toothless we have been up top without big Jimmy recently.

Its hard as a City fan in the league we are in to say what would be the minimum level of success. We cannot afford as a club and financially to be in this league any longer, so the sooner we get out the better. We have the best chance of acheiving this with Taylor at the helm and with his methods and track record. Lets not expect pretty football. Lets not expect us to be beating Liverpool in the 3rd round of the FA Cup (just getting there would be nice). Football that gets results and gets us out of this league is fine by me.

Who is the best side you’ve seen at Valley Parade this season and who deserves promotion?

Notts County and Rochdale were both promoted over the week and with the former having blasted five past City on the first day and Rochdale impressing at Valley Parade few City fans would say that either does does not deserve promotion but with League Two offering three automatic promotion spots one wonders who deserves to be in League One next season and so The Barry Articles asks…

“County and Dale aside – who is the best side you’ve seen at Valley Parade this season and who deserves promotion?”

Jason Mckeown City Gent & BfB Writer

I’m not one of those people who endlessly bang on about how League Two is a poor division. Of course it is short on quality compared to the upper echelons of English football, but personally I still enjoy lower league football. There’s a fantastic competitive nature to every fixture and no team gives you an easy ride. It’s a scrap, which can get ugly at times, but it’s an enjoyable scrap.

That said, apart from Notts County and Rochdale I’ve not been impressed by any visitors to Valley Parade this season. Rotherham arguably stand out for their over-physical approach that so often teams at the top earn success from, think back to the MK Dons two years ago. However their 4-2 December success on our turf was aided greatly by referee Lee Probert. Burton and Crewe looked good sides on the day, but aren’t in the promotion shake up. Port Vale impressed in the Valley Parade JPT encounter if not the league game, Bournemouth were solid if unspectacular and Dagenham brilliant for the last half an hour of the recent 3-3 draw.

From the away games I’ve attended, it’s been a similar story of teams looking decent but not amazing. Notts Forest in the League Cup tie were terrific, I do hope they go up into the Premier League.

In terms of who deserves to be promoted with County and Dale, Bournemouth are certainly good value for third. Eddie Howe is clearly an outstanding manager who deserves to go far. The race for the play offs is too close to call, and my preferences for who goes up from and who comes down to our league is always centred on having more nearby northern teams, for easier away travel, the following season. This year I also want everyone who cheated us in league games to get their just desserts and slip up; so I guess overall I’d like to see Aldershot promoted on the basis they’ve not upset me and it’s a bloomin’ long journey to their ground – with Rotherham, Bury, Morecambe and Shrewsbury enduring miserable failures.

Dave Pendleton Bantamspast Curator & Former City Gent Editor

It’s difficult to judge who deserves to make the final promotion spot. We only get to see most teams in the flesh once at VP – and some twice if we go away. Bournemouth look fairly safe in third place and, given their travails, one hopes they cling on for promotion. Directly behind them are Rotherham. I did wonder whether this entire question was another excuse to have a laugh at Rotherham’s expense? Something I’m only too happy to do.

Our old friend Ronnie Moore, someone we love to hate ever since he City should be thrown out of the League for going into administration. Of course, since then his beloved Rotherham went into administration and lost their ground. I should feel for the Millers given their predicament, but the season after a points deduction they suddenly have cash to throw about, whereas many clubs who suffer administration take years to recover. They might have got lucky, or there might be a hint of a downmarket Leicester or Leeds about them – I often wonder what Julian Rhodes makes of these scenarios.

The other contenders are former FA Cup winners Bury, Aldershot, Dagenham & Redbridge and Chesterfield. We are more in the territory of play off winners here. I’d like to see Aldershot do well, as a reformed club they were in the equivalent of the Northern Premier when we were in the Premier League, now they are poised to pass us. That probably says more about Bradford City than it does Aldershot Town, but good luck to the Shots, I hope they do it. Chesterfield were, last time I checked, still owned by their supporters, so again, I tip my moral hat to them. In truth though, I’m more likely to support southern teams in the play-off race, simply to save on travel costs next season. Good luck to all involved, just wish it was us sweating on the final games.

Michael Wood BfB Editor

Many of the things that I’d like to see Bradford City follow have been forced on AFC Bournemouth and manager Eddie Howe who has taken the curses forced on the club by administration and money issues – however deserved they may be – and made them into boons.

Howe’s side are hardly allowed to sign players but they use that to make a tight squad. They cannot bring in a senior professional to replace the experience of Steve Fletcher so they ask him to stay and are rewarded with a good few goals and a good head. They are forced to blood young players like Joshua McQuoid, Danny Hollands and Brett Pitman who have grown into a very capable bunch.

It goes without saying that in this situation they have been cherished the stability they could. Manager Eddie Howe has been at the club since 1994 – save an unsuccessful sojourn to Portsmouth from which he returned smartly. Things have had to stay the same – and in staying the same they have improved.

The triumph of Howe and The Cherries this year is not to be the best team in the division but to be the best team they could be – so much more than the sum of the parts – and a stark contrast in a league which has seen teams like Shrewsbury, Bradford City and even considering they paid Sol Campbell £400,000 while struggling in mid-table Notts County spend big and achieve little.

What one single thing would you change about Bradford City?

As we worry that Bradford City will be heading for the worst finish the club has had in forty-four years drastic measures are being debated for the future of the club with almost nothing having been changed, tweaked or altered in the hypotheticals that Bantams fans are talking in. Flights of fancy or wild notions to serious notion and simple building blocks have been heard and discussed.

And so the fifth of the Barry Article asks…

“What one single thing would you change about Bradford City?”

Jason Mckeown City Gent & BfB Writer

What a question! After another hugely disappointing season, the temptation is to simply say “to have success”. But I believe football clubs go in cycles and the good and bad times can never last forever, so I’d prefer to retain my blind faith that it must be our time again soon and use my wish on something more ever-lasting.

Which means I also wouldn’t want to change chairmen, manager or players; as these things happen over time anyway. Nor strategy, as what seems the obvious one now may not be in two or ten years time. I prefer to trust that those responsible for getting it right will do so eventually. Please.

So having nobly avoided the temptation to wish for a ten-point lead at the top of the Premier League or signing Lionel Messi, I’m going to push my luck and ask for two wishes. The first is for the Kop to go back to terracing. Standing up at football is how it should be and there was nothing wrong with our beloved former terrace.

I miss the days where I stood next to the same group of 20 or so people and the banter we had; when we went all-seater, we suddenly never saw each other. Now I sit behind the same moaning idiots every week, debating moving my season ticket for the next campaign but fearing I’ll just be stuck with different moaners. It was never a problem standing in the Kop, I yearn for that.

And the other thing I’d change is for City to have their own anthem we can all sing before the match. Nothing horrible like what that lot down the road sing; more like other clubs who adopt their own anthem and sing it before every game with such passion and excitement. Sheffield United, Notts Forest and of course Liverpool fans, I’m so jealous of the way you sing your anthems.

If only we could have our own anthem to sing similarly passionately prior to every match, maybe we’d finally get rid of that dodgy home record. Which reminds me, that’s another thing to change. Hmmm, any chance of a third wish?

Dave Pendleton Bantamspast Curator & Former City Gent Editor

A simple question to answer. The ownership of the ground. Without the dead weight of the lease payments City would have, according to David Baldwin, the ability to pay Championship level wages. Of course, whether we would want to pay high wages is another matter, but to have the ability to do so would obviously only benefit the club’s progress.

I would love to see the ground placed in the ownership of a non-profit making co-operative and have the ground set aside for sports use only in perpetuity. Even better a City of Bradford Stadium, with City, and possibly the Bulls, playing at a Valley Parade central to the sports community of the entire City of Bradford. It would once and for all remove the burden of repayments and ground development costs from both clubs and would send a tremendous signal regarding community cohesion. It would take a leap of faith, particularly from a section of the Bulls fans who view visiting Manningham to be akin to signing your own death warrant, and those City fans who resent Zesh Rehman’s presence in the City side, but with open minded optimism we could be on the verge of something special at Valley Parade.

Whether Gordon Gibb fancies being paternalistic towards Bradford, or Bradford Council is brave enough to push through such a scheme, is questionable. However, we have to be optimistic, otherwise we will fall into the same self-fulfilling cynicism that often dominates thinking about Bradford and Bradford City.

Steve Baker Stalwart City fan and Bantams Bar regular

I’d like to see some proper sales and marketing plan. What are we doing to raise funds off the field? I know Roger Owen has been brought in, but I’m yet to see what he has put in place to generate more revenue to the club. I have loads of ideas that would help boost the clubs coffers, but there is no point in suggesting these to the club as it just falls on deaf ears.

If there is more money coming in, it makes everything easier. There are loads of things the club could do – but whether its void of ideas, or just restricted due to lack of staff members. I’m happy to chuck ideas into the pot, but there is no fixed process for this.

When the Peter Etherington saga ended, the club advertised for a new commercial manager. I applied for this post and heard nothing back from the club. Im not saying I was a perfect candidate but I had some good ideas, and definitely have the passion for such a role.

So that’s what I would want to see – a club that offers great value on season tickets, but looks for all available opportunities to expand its money earning potentials. At the moment we are stuck in a rut, one we need to get out of ASAP. The money isn’t the be all and end all, but would Rhodes and Lawn turn down more income?

Paul Firth City fan and Author of Four Minutes To Hell

This would have to be a ‘If I won the rollover lottery’ moment.

I’d buy back the ground from the Gibb pension fund and charge City a nominal rent. I have no complaint with the rent the present landlord charges. I think it probably is a commercial rent. But it is a rent City cannot afford, given their overall finances.

As long as the cheap season tickets continue (and that, hopefully, means for a very long time indeed), the club cannot afford high outgoings on rent and at the same time the wages for the sort of players that our impatient supporters demand. So, if expectation is to be met, the outgoings have to be cut or the ticket sales have to go even further than the extra 5,000 being sought. (OK, or the prices have to go up, but that’s far from a simple equation.)

If I don’t win the lottery, then I would be looking for a kindly benefactor who can afford the price of the freehold and, in the short term, won’t mind getting less than a market return on his money until the club can buy the ground back – which should be feasible in the medium term. Anyone one have Sir Ken’s number?

Do you want Peter Taylor to be Bradford City manager next season?

After an Easter without points a section of Bradford City supporters have started to grumble about Peter Taylor, his methods and his criticism of the pitch at Valley Parade being seen as an “excuse”.

And so the fourth of the Barry Article asks…

“Do you want Peter Taylor to be Bradford City manager next season?”

Jason Mckeown City Gent & BfB Writer

I never agreed with the decision to ‘trial’ Peter Taylor, and nothing over the last seven weeks has altered my mind on whether to entrust him with the job full time – he was the outstanding candidate when the club was recruiting in February, he is the outstanding candidate now.

Although recent results have been poor, I believe Taylor has offered plenty of evidence to suggest he can lead Bradford City back up the football ladder. His success has been his attitude and mindset; while others in his position might have tentatively tweaked the team and made the odd loan signing, conscious and fearful of the restrictions of a short-term deal, Taylor has acted like a manager already handed a two-year contract. He has made tough decisions, he has changed the playing style and he has looked at off-the-field matters and demanded resources towards improving them.

Taylor came in last February with a plan – but it wasn’t a plan to see it out the season, it was to begin building a club in the way he believes is right. The groundwork has already started; this summer will be about signing the right players towards delivering his vision. From day one Taylor has acted as though he won’t be leaving anytime soon, the club would be advised not to contemplate it either.

Dave Pendleton Bantamspast Curator & Former City Gent Editor

It would be criminally insane to judge Peter Taylor on the handful of matches he has been in charge of the club. However, the numbers of the criminally insane rise by the week – or should that be by the defeat.

After Monday’s match the police didn’t have to be called to close Manningham Lane due to the ticket office coming under siege by hordes of would be season ticket holders, but then again there was hardly a rush to acclaim Paul Jewell when he was appointed manager after a similarly dismal end to a campaign – though crucial differences are that City are currently in Division Four and don’t have a couple of million quid knocking about for new players.

Peter Taylor will be Bradford City’s manager next season and rightly so. Dismissing his claims due to an end of season game, played on a bog of a pitch and with key players missing through injury, would be stupid. But, this is Bradford City and a fair number of our fans only make their voices heard when they have destructive things to say.

All happily glum. I was as disheartened as any following the listless Macc game, but we have to look forward and towards a new season. Taylor is the best this club can hope for at this level and frankly Bradford City are currently the best Taylor can hope for. We are a match made in a basement. Scratching around in the charity shops and pound shops of our once prosperous city. The club reflecting the wider city and the wider city reflecting the club. Perhaps as the shimmering £25m mirror pool emerges in the city centre it will reflect the grandeur of City Hall, but it could equally reflect the shameful neglect of the Odeon.

Likewise at Valley Parade will a new City arise, one born from shameful boom and bust policies, a new club for a new age of parsimony and honest hard work? Or will we continue to reflect backwards towards faded thin glory of the Premier League? We have to drag ourselves from its long shadow and hopefully Peter Taylor will be the man to lead us blinking into the light of a new dawn.

David Markham T&A Reporting Legend

On the face of it , Peter Taylor has all the credentials to be Bradford City manager. He has managerial experience at all levels of football from international to the fourth tier – League Two – of English football and, important to City, his experience at Hull City and Wycombe demonstrate a track record of winning promotions.
His Valley Parade record so far has been decidedly mixed and like, most people, I was alarmed at the depressing 2-1 home defeat against Macclesfield on Easter Monday.

I know City were missing influential players like Simon Ramsden, Michael Flynn, James Hanson and Omar Daley, but, even so, it was a poor performance. And, although I accept Peter Taylor’s criticism of the dreadful state of the Valley Parade pitch and realise how difficult it is to play decent football on it, this was a match City ought to have won.

The case for Peter Taylor focuses on his proven track record and experience and his contacts in the game. He quickly brought in loan players to freshen up City’s squad and I am sure he will have a list of summer targets.

With most of the squad out of contract in the summer, there will be radical changes to the team whoever is manager in 2010-11 – and there needs to be after another disappointing season.

Peter Taylor’s priority will be to strengthen City’s leaky defence with big central defenders suited to lower division football. For, the defence has been a weakness all season. Even when the side were showing promise in the autumn, City were still unable to hang to leads – Barnet and Northampton – and that trend has continued – look how they let a 2-0 lead slip against Dagenham.

The question for Peter Taylor’s critics is if not him then who would be City’s next manager? It must have been a difficult decision for the directors to choose between him and Steve Cotterill, but he is now at Notts County and I see another candidate, Russell Slade has been appointed at Leyton Orient so there are not too many candidates out there.

Interestingly, just after Stuart McCall left, Bury manager Alan Knill, who has a good record of lower division management at Rotherham and Bury was being mentioned as a possible summer target even if Bury win promotion. On balance, though, I would say let’s give Peter Taylor a contract and back him to build a side ready to challenge for promotion next season.

As Bradford City supporters should we cheer on, support and generally welcome Bradford (Park Avenue) as they get back up football?

This week we have seen our neighbours Bradford (Park Avenue) beat the much trumpeted FC United of Manchester 5-1 as they look to get into the Blue Square North. They were also the subject of a cheer leading article in The Independent. In our debates over the future of Bradford’s sporting grounds the idea of including Park Avenue in the future of Valley Parade and Odsal has come up.

With the decline of Farsley Celtic and Halifax Town and as Bradford City supporters should we cheer on, support and generally welcome Bradford (Park Avenue) as they get back up football? Will it be good for Bradford, for sport in Bradford and for Bradford City to have Park Avenue back up football or would it divide the City, damage both clubs and hamper the Bantams?

So the question is…

As Bradford City supporters should we cheer on, support and generally welcome Bradford (Park Avenue) as they get back up football?

Jason Mckeown City Gent & BfB Writer

To any City supporter under the age of 40, the thought of Bradford being home to two professional football clubs is as whimsical as completed shopping centres and thriving music scenes. It happens in other cities, but somehow we always seem to end up worse off.

It’s easy to feel envious of the derbies cities such as Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Sheffield enjoy, though so often in football local rivalries are unbalanced with one enjoying more success and so caring less about outdoing the other. Should Bradford (Park Avenue) continue their rise back up the pyramid and return to the Football League, it’s hard to imagine any City fan born after their neighbours’ demise in 1974, at least, not sharing in their joy.

The Horsfall Stadium has become a regular pre-season stop off for the Bantams, a number of youth players who never made it beyond a few first team games at Valley Parade have winded up in Avenue’s green and white. They are a club to raise a smile when hearing they’ve won a game or notice they’re higher up the league table when reading the paper. Should that continue, the idea of a Bradford league derby would attract excitement and intrigue – but it’s hard to imagine it would ever generate feelings of hatred from claret and amber.

The only real threat Avenue’s continuing rise could pose to City is to divert floating supporters from Valley Parade, reducing attendances and revenue; but even the thought of that right now seems improbable. Just like Guiseley, Silsden and Thackley, Avenue are non-league friends to cheer from afar. And to us ‘youngsters’ the idea of them as serious rivals belongs in the same history books as Busby’s.

Mike Harrison City Gent Editor

As a City fan and especially one who in my position as editor of The City Gent I am almost wholly occupied about what happens on and off the field for the Bantams. That said I do make a cursory glance at the inner pages of the T&A on a Monday to see how the local non-league sides have done that weekend. If they have done well I think “that’s good for them” or if they haven’t then I think “oh well never mind”. I will readily admit that I am very blinkered in my support of City, but on a certain level of course I wish the nearby non-league clubs well.

The fact that Park Avenue seems to be having a title chasing season is good for all those that support the reformed club. I am just about old enough to have been around for the last league game played between the two sides, at Avenue in January 1969 when I was seven and a half, but all I remember about the 0-0 draw is making my way into their main stand to take my seat and virtually nothing about the match itself. Whilst I am sure there was some cross-town animosity and rivalry, I certainly wasn’t aware of it at that age.

So I have no ill feelings towards Park Avenue and therefore I hope that they gain promotion and win the title. I hope that they don’t fall foul of what has happened at Farsley Celtic, who seemed to progress too far too fast and who have now paid the ultimate price. Park Avenue’s modest support could probably help maintain their club’s position in the conference north, but whether they were ever capable of gaining a further two more promotions to get back into the football league is debatable, but good luck to them I say.

Steve Baker Stalwart City fan and Bantams Bar regular

Personally, I have no issue with BPA doing well. I’m not necessarily going to cheer them on, but I don’t see why we shouldn’t be supporting them in their bid to get back into the league.

There are many rivalries in football, many teams we don’t like either as people or clubs, but very few clubs who we would say we are friends with or who have backed us when we have needed it. As much as rivalry is part of football, the same should be said of friendly relationships between clubs.

It would definitely be good for sport in the city, investment would be encouraged which can only be a positive thing. With the Westfield saga and the will it wont it Odsal project, investment in Bradford can only be seen in a good thing. I very rarely visit the city centre these days, but it is pretty much unrecognisable from when I was a teenager, with the effects of the recent economic downturn evident at every corner.

I don’t see how it would divide the city or supporters either. You are either one or the other, but following another local team is quite normal. My fellow season ticket holder in the Bantams Bar also follows BPA, goes to games and has an interest in them. But he will never chose them over City. And I’m fairly convinced this is what other people feel also from those I have spoken with.

I cant see how BPA doing well would hamper City. The resources we have as a club and the fan base we attract are more than likely going to be superior to Avenue. We are likely to attract better players and coaches, sponsors and investors and much more. To be honest, I’m a great believer in getting your own house in order before worrying about others.

Effectively City need to build on the good work done by McCall and Taylor, and ensure that moving up the leagues is what we do within an acceptable time frame. Taylor is right in asking for things to be improved such as the training facilities, the pitch and other things. This is what will stand the club in good stead beyond this season. If City are getting this right, and the performance on the pitch, then our success will bring more fans, more investment and better players. Its this that is important, not worrying about BPA and what’s happening with them. If City do well then I think its fair to say there is more potential than at BPA, with no disrespect to our neighbours.

One thing both clubs could benefit from is some form of strategic alliance, where City youth team or reserve players are loaned to Avenue to regain fitness and build match experience. I’m sure there are some players who would jump at the chance at first team football amongst City’s youth ranks, and if they are deemed good enough and can help in Avenues plight, I’m all for this. This should be done at the benefit of both clubs though – the youth players should not expect to walk straight into Avenues first team; they must earn the right to pull on the green and white or red, amber and black, whichever you prefer.

Dave Pendleton Bantamspast Curator & Former City Gent Editor

My first ever football match was Avenue v Hartlepool in 1970, incidentally Avenue’s last ever league victory. My dad was an Avenue fan, but he watched Avenue one Saturday and City the next. However, when he moved our family to Wrose it was inevitable that City would become my first love. My dad’s open minded stance has shaped my attitude to our neighbours to this day. However, it can be hard work, particularly when confronted by the hostility to City still held by some Avenue fans. Indeed, the biggest obstacle to Avenue sharing Valley Parade would be a section of Avenue fans for whom 1974 is still bitter memory. City are a convenient scapegoat for their own club’s failings, but that’s another debate.

The vast majority of City fans don’t see Avenue as a threat, so therefore are supportive of our former rivals. However, if – and it is a very big if – Avenue were to close the gap on City then those attitudes might change. Frankly, it is highly unlikely that Avenue will become serious rivals to City. The demographic of the Avenue fans is the wrong side of fifty and, unless they can suddenly attract a whole new generation of fans, the gap between the two Bradford clubs will grow. Despite City’s current lowly status the season ticket deals have kept attendances high and have help attract and retain a significant number of young supporters. As the era of the Bradford derby’s fades ever more into the past, the relevance of the rivalry will disappear into insignificance. It is already barely a historical oddity on a par with the fact that Bradford used to have more Rolls Royce’s than London.

David Markham T&A Reporting Legend

Of course, Bradford City supporters should welcome Park Avenue’s progress up the feeder league system. Looking at their position at the top of the Unibond League Premier Division, it seems likely they will be promoted as champions although they are being pressed all the way by one of our other friends and neighbours from non-League football – Guiseley – and they still have to play them twice.

Avenue’s president Bob Blackburn has invested a serious amount of money into the club, both on and off the field and it looks as if his investment is going to bearing fruit.

Make no mistake going into Conference North is a huge step for Avenue. They had a season there when Conference North and South were formed about five years ago, gaining their place through a play-off system even though they had experienced a poor season. Former City favourite Carl Shutt was manager. It was clearly a step too far and they were relegated back to the Unibond and Shutt left the club.

First of all, I hope Park Avenue have the players of sufficient quality to consolidate their place in Conference North. Then, I hope they can increase their fan base. I read in the T&A last week that they need to increase their average from about 500 to 700.

As a family we spent Christmas at Blackpool in 2008 and I went to watch Fleetwood play Workington on Boxing Day. It was their first season in Conference North. They have three smart little stands as well as a successful social club and they are about to build another new stand. They average just about 1,200 and considerable investment in the team this season has lifted them to the top of the League and, although they had their winning points against now defunct Farsley Celtic deducted, they are still slight favourites to go into the Blue Square Premier League – Conference – as champions although Southport are pressing them hard.

They have a far better ground than Park Avenue and if Avenue can consolidate in Conference North they will need to improve Horsfall or look for a better ground. The accommodation is little more than adequate and looking over a running track tends to spoil a match for spectators.

Bob Blackburn has bought land at Thornbury to build a new stadium, but that sounds to be an ambitious plan for a club that attracts fewer than 1,000 for normal league matches. Could they share Valley Parade? Park Avenue supporters I know wouldn’t be happy at that. There is some prejudice against ‘the club that plays off Manningham Lane.’ There are some of them, who are still re-living City-Avenue derby matches of the 1950s and 1960s.

Unfortunately, I am old enough to remember those days – and great days they were with crowds of 15,000 to 20,000 watching those games in the 1950s although the gates tailed off in the 1960s, tremendous atmosphere and intense rivalry without the nastiness that manifested itself in the 1970s and still exist today. No segregation in those days either – fancy that?

I also watched Park Avenue play their final two seasons in the Second Division between 1948 and 1950 and I especially remember seeing Tottenham Hotspur – in Second Division championship season – West Brom, Leeds United and Coventry grace Park Avenue. It was sad to see their demise in the late 1960s and be voted out of the Football League in 1970.

It was also great to be able to watch League football on alternate Saturdays in Bradford. Despite Avenue’s successful season, we are still a long way off from those days and I just hope Avenue don’t over-reach themselves as Farsley have done. Their fan base was always too small and they went into the main Conference with crowds at about the same level as Park Avenue have now and over spent in trying to compete with bigger clubs with greater resources and sadly they had to be wound up a month ago. Their fate is warning to all clubs whatever level they play at – overspend at your peril.

Let’s hope Farsley can come back in Unibond North like Halifax Town did.

Richard Wardell Fundraiser in times of trouble and former BCST man

Breaking it down, we as Bradford City supporters shouldn’t be cheering on and supporting Bradford Park Avenue. However, welcoming their rise back up the football pyramid is a different matter.

I must admit that in this day and age of media hype surrounding the Premiership and the Champions League, I prefer to follow the fortunes of teams in the non league circles. Indeed, I notice that the top of the table clash between Bradford Park Avenue and Guiseley was postponed last night.

I am too young to remember Bradford Park Avenue as a league team so I don’t remember the days of Bradford having two football league teams. I suppose the question that we have to ask ourselves is what impact would league status for Bradford Park Avenue have on Bradford City fixtures? At the moment Bradford Park Avenue are averaging less than 1,000 people per home game this season. However, in the post Second World War years, a crowd of 25,655 watched Bradford City verses Bradford Park Avenue in a Division 3 match.

Another factor is cost. We as City supporters are all aware of the great (in my opinion) season ticket prices offered at Valley Parade in recent seasons. For their next home fixture Bradford Park Avenue will be charging adults £8, children £1 and concessions £5. If they were promoted to Division 4 (our current division), I wonder what the costs would be then?

The population of Bradford and the surrounding area should in theory be able to support two Bradford based football leagues clubs but theory doesn’t always work in the real world. People often talk about the great support that both Newcastle United and Leeds United gain but they are cities where there is only one league club. Discussions from time to time crop up about Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United merging but most of their supporters don’t want this.

So, back to the original question. Personally, I would like to see Bradford Park Avenue climb up the football pyramid and to play them in a league game would be great. However, being selfish, I wouldn’t want to see their rise result in our demise into non existence.

Paul Firth City fan and Author of Four Minutes To Hell

As a lad growing up in Bingley and without access to private transport, I was never going to be an Avenue fan. I even went to watch Keighley rather than Northern for much the same reasons. Apart from derby matches I’ve only been to Avenue (the football side of the stand, that is) once and that was in the sixties for a cup tie against Fulham – Johnny Haynes, George Cohen and some young kid called Allan Clarke.

City fans today, most of whom missed out on those derbies, love to hate teams in the league above us. Maybe they’ll be happy to see Avenue’s possible rise up the football ladder unless and until it impinges on City’s progress. We can cheer Avenue into the Conference North or even the Conference proper, especially when they struggle to attract 1,000 spectators for most games and we can’t find a soul who has given up his Valley Parade season ticket to go to Horsfall.

But if they did return to the Football League? Worse still, if they reached one league higher than City? Manchester United fans never worried much about what was going on at Maine Road once the Bell/Lee team fell apart. Pride in your city soon takes second place to pride in your City.

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