Never Forget

About a year ago, John Dewhirst, David Pendleton and John Ashton (apologies if I’ve missed other people out) started to hatch a plan to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of Bradford City winning the FA Cup. All of their hard work came to fruition on the exact date 100 years after our most famous victory over Newcastle United in an FA Cup final replay at Old Trafford. Over 200 people packed one of the many function rooms at the Midland Hotel to come together as one. John Dewhirst stressed that this was a supporters evening and the organisers were very aware of the difficult financial pressures faced by many of Bradford City’s supporters today and that they had tried to offer tickets at an affordable price of £25 for the evening which included a three course meal. In my opinion, the evening was worth every penny.

The presentation of the room was classy yet professional with claret and amber very prominent colours throughout the room. The Gawthorpe Brass Band played their instruments to great effect to generate an emotional atmosphere on an emotional night. Apart from the many supporters in the room (many of whom could probably remember games from the 70s and even further back), others present included past players such as Ian Cooper and Joe Cooke, former player and manager Terry Dolan, members of our existing Board and even a descendant of Peter Logan who formed part of the 1911 winning team.

In his opening speech, you could hear the pride in John Dewhirst’s voice as he thanked everyone for attending. He did however pass on apologies from Stuart McCall and Greg Abbott who at the last minute couldn’t attend. However, this didn’t takeaway the gloss from a wonderful evening. It was noticeable however that there were none of the existing team present or interim manager Peter Jackson which I thought was disappointing. A friend of mine who attended the dinner had managed to see the Bradford City juniors draw 2-2 on the same afternoon over in Hull. (Apparently we were 2-0 down with 15 minutes to go but we salvaged a draw through some inspired play from up and coming winger Dominic Rowe.) My friend asked David Wetherall if he had inspired our junior team with a half time team talk highlighting the fact the it was 100 years to the day that our club won the FA Cup.

Unfortunately, Wetherall replied “no” and said that he would have liked to have attended the evening if he’d been aware of it. This says to me that our existing team and management were unaware of the the importance of 26 April 1911 and the event taking place at the Midland Hotel. This notion saddened me and highlighted the poor communication that exists between the players and supporters today.

However, not to paint a gloomy picture of a fabulous evening, we tucked into our three course meal with many of us enjoying the fine Glorious1911 Ale brewed by the Saltaire brewery with sales from the ale being donated to the Bradford Burns Unit. During the meal it was great to talk to fellow Bradford City supporters about all things City related. A couple on our table now lived in Kendal but still have season tickets to attend games at Valley Parade and also told tales of their away game experiences. I got the feeling that those of us who were fortunate enough to pay for a ticket all hold Bradford City close to our hearts and wanted to ensure that our FA Cup victory should not be forgotten. History is important. It was great to see die hards like Mike Harrison, Mark Neale and Board members of the Bradford City Supporters’ Trust in attendance.

The meal over and David Pendleton, author of the superb book Glorious 1911 explained some of the tales behind our famous victory like how the replay was played only four days after the final at Crystal Palace so only about 10,000 Bradford City supporters travelled to Manchester for the replay owing to financial constraints placed on supporters (sound familiar?). Also, owing to the fact that there were no floodlights meant that the replay kicked off mid-afternoon. The victorious team, thanks to Jimmy Speirs goal after 15 minutes, arrived back into Bradford in the evening to be greeted by about 100,000 Bradfordians. This represented about a third of the City’s population and it took the team about 45 minutes to cross the city and finally end up at the Midland Hotel. John Ashton replicated speeches that were made on that evening of 100 years ago and you could hear the sportsmanship that existed in the speeches that by and large is no longer in our game.

John Dewhirst then presented a cheque for £5,000 to Professor Sharpe who has been so instrumental in the development of the Bradford Burns Unit. This money had come from the sales of historical memorabilia including scarfs and badges. Ian Cooper then made a toast to suitably round off a wonderful evening.

Following the formalities, this young(-ish) supporter who only witnessed his first Bradford City game at Valley Parade in 1988 approached some of the former players to sign his copy of Glorious 1911. All who I approached were more than happy to sign and came across as genuine people who still have an affinity with Bradford City Football Club. Many posed for photographs and chatted to supporters which was lovely to see. Once again, a personal thank you from me to all those who put so much unpaid time and effort into a memorable night. We must never forget where this football club has come from.

Bradford City’s 1911 team and the Great War

If Glorious 1911 was Bradford’s finest hour, then the years 1914-18 were the bleakest the city has ever faced. The fate of Bradford City’s FA Cup winning captain Jimmy Speirs perhaps epitomises the era. In 1911 he held the glittering FA Cup aloft to the cheers of 100,000 people packed onto the streets of Bradford; six years later he lay dying in a muddy shell hole.

As we celebrate the centenary of Bradford City’s greatest triumph we will also remember the nine Bradford City players who lost their lives in the Great War. As we have seen among that number was the captain and goalscorer in the 1911 FA Cup final Jimmy Speirs. Also killed was the man-of-the-match of the FA Cup final Robert Torrance. Sadly, Torrance has no known grave and is thus commemorated among the 36,000 names on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing near Ypres, Belgium. Others with no know final resting place include City’s England internationals Jimmy Conlin and Evelyn Lintott.

Bradford City supporters will have an opportunity to visit the last resting places of the nine players during a trip to France and Belgium in June. As well as the nine players the trip will also take in Serre where the Bradford Pals attacked on the first day of the Battle of the Somme and the grave of Bradford Park Avenue’s Donald Bell – the only professional footballer to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

The trip will take place between Thursday 2 June and Sunday 5 June 2011. People can book an early bird price of £270 if they pay before April. It includes all travel to and two night’s accommodation in Lille and one night in Arras (including breakfast). The trip is strictly limited to twenty places and will be sold on a first come first served basis. To register interest please contact the bantamspast museum curator David Pendleton by email davidpendleton1@gmail.com or drop into the bantamspast museum at Valley Parade prior to home games.

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.

City supporters invited to enjoy the FA Cup

Seven months of celebrations to commemorate the centenary of Bradford City’s FA Cup triumph of 1911 begin on Sunday when the book ‘Glorious 1911’ is officially launched at Bradford’s National Media Museum.

Bradford City supporters will have the rare opportunity of seeing action from the 1911 FA Cup Final when the Bantams became the first winners of the Bradford designed FA Cup. The official launch of the book ‘Glorious 1911’ will take place at Pictureville, National Media Museum, Bradford this Sunday 21 November at 8pm.

The books author, David Pendleton, the curator of Bradford City’s bantamspast museum, will give an illustrated talk on the writing and research of the book as well as the 1910/11 FA Cup winning season when City established themselves among the elite of English football. The talk will feature rare footage of Bradford City’s Rugby League predecessors, Manningham, in action at Deswbury in 1901; a tram ride from Forster Square to Manningham Park gates in 1902; Bradford City’s first ever Football League home game in 1903; footage of the scoreless draw with Newcastle United in the 1911 FA Cup Final; and the replay at Old Trafford when Jimmy Speirs scored the games only goal to win the FA Cup for Bradford City.

Copies of the book (price £12) will be on sale before and after the event. Additionally a limited number of enamel badges and a special scarf have been made to commemorate the 1911 FA Cup triumph and these will be available at Pictureville along with a specially produced souvenir programme. Tickets for the event are available from the Pictureville booking office, price £6.50 each.

The Pictureville evening marks the first in a number of events that have been organised to celebrate the centenary including a dinner at the Midland Hotel on 26 April, 2011, an exhibition at Bradford Industrial Museum and a visit to the graves of City’s fallen heroes in the Great War – including that of Jimmy Speirs who scored the club’s winning goal against Newcastle United in the 1911 FA Cup Final replay at Old Trafford.

Further details from www.bantamspast.co.uk and glorious1911@paraders.co.uk

Remembering Glorious 1911: New Book

This season marks the centenary of Bradford City’s famous FA Cup winning campaign in 1910/11. To mark the occasion Dave Pendleton, curator of bantamspast Museum at Valley Parade has written a history of the period 1908-15 when Bradford City was one of the strongest teams in English football challenging at the top of Division One.

The book, Glorious 1911 includes a wealth of detail and a large number of previously unseen and long-forgotten photographs and archive images. A formal launch of the book has been arranged at Pictureville cinema at 8pm on Sunday 21 November when there will be a showing or historic Bradford City films as well as a talk about City’s golden era.

Tickets for the event are available from the Pictureville booking office, price £6.50 each. GLORIOUS 1911 will go on sale before kick-off on 20 November in the bantamspast museum (price £12) and it will also be available from Waterstones’ Wool Exchange shop from 20 November. Additionally a limited number of enamel badges and a special scarf have been made to commemorate the 1911 Cup triumph and these will be available at Pictureville along with a souvenir programme.

The Pictureville evening marks the first in a number of events that have been organised to celebrate the centenary including a dinner at the Midland Hotel on 26 April, 2011, an exhibition at Bradford Industrial Museum and a visit to the graves of City’s fallen heroes in the Great War – including that of Jimmy Speirs who scored the club’s winning goal against Newcastle United in the 1911 Cup Final replay at Old Trafford.

For more details go to www.bantamspast.co.uk or mail glorious1911@paraders.co.uk

Paraders Glorious 1911

A shame that with the 100 year anniversary of the formation of Bradford City passing with such little fanfare – for fairly obvious reasons with the club facing a battle for the future rather than a reminisce of the past – and one hopes that someone at Valley Parade can seize the opportunity in an official marking on the centenary since the club won the only major honour it has – the 1911 FA Cup.

Won in a replay against Newcastle United The Bantams claimed the trophy that was made in this City and it was said that “there was no finer team than Bradford City.” Those were the days.

Those days are recalled by The Paraders book and exhibition Glorious 1911 which celebrates this triumph. More information on said event – and a chance to order the book – can, no, should be gleaned from The Paraders website.

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