Manningham Rugby, 1903 & an archery competition

Bradford City the football club was formed in 1903 but the sports club that became City, Manningham Rugby League club were established in 1880 becoming winners of the inaugural Rugby League in 1895. By the change over from Rugby to association football Manningham had fallen on hard times and in 1903, after a series of archery contests to keep the club afloat, a more permanent solution to the financial problems was hit upon. Manningham were to change from Ruggar to Soccer and after doing so were welcomed into the recently born Football League who, seeking the chance to establish a foothold in the uncharted and previously Rugby strong territory of the West Riding, welcomed the renamed Bradford City Football Club into the second division without a ball being kicked.

City, based in what was then a thriving centre of the wool industry, ,quickly won promotion to the first division in 1908 and in the 1910-1911 season achieved the best finish in the club’s history to date, 5th. City also bested Newcastle United in an FA Cup final reply to become the first holders of the Bradford made trophy that served from that day to the early nineties.

City spent more ten years in the top flight of English football before being relegated in 1922, condemned to what has been literally a lifetime in the lower leagues. The team’s decline matched that of the industry in the City and throughout the post war years the height of the clubs ambitions was to escape the recently formed Division Four, a feat achieved for the last time, the football league only stretching to three division in 1977 but a quick return saw City go into the 1980 season with a rickety and out of date ground, a business that hung to solvency by a thread and a team that hovered just above joining defunct rivals Bradford (Park Avenue) in the annals of football history. Who could have predicted, good or bad, the events of the next twenty years.

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