Tear soaked Balti Pies and little chuckling at Bradford

Posted by on Nov 26, 2011 in Uncategorized | One Comment
Tear soaked Balti Pies and little chuckling at Bradford
Image available under Creative Commons © DESQie's
Following the recent untimely demise of Bradford City blog, Boy from Brazil, our latest guest post comes from Bantams fan Richard Beecham . Richard is a trainee journalist who was recently published by the Leeds Scribbler site — follow him on Twitter at @RichardBeecham.‘Why don’t you just support Leeds?’ was the defining question of my childhood. Having grown up in Morley — an area of south Leeds known for its fanatical (and sometimes militant) allegiances to Leeds United, my support of Bradford City became all the more entrenched — which has resulted in a complete inability to express self-awareness and humour towards the club. Make a joke about City, and I turn into an arsehole who spouts facts and figures to contradict you, indeed, my emotional attachment to the club could quite legitimately be seen as a severe, debilitating character flaw. Like a sitcom in which the protagonist is faced each week with a seemingly easy opportunity for success in romance, a new social circle or their career, they ruin it with an ill-timed remark about their club’s reckless transfer spending under a previous chairman, or extolling the virtues of a misunderstood midfielder in a vitriolic drunken rage. Short of ruining my life, my insufferable love for the Bantams has rendered my attempts at being a charming and personable individual quite difficult.Many of you, however, may be more interested to know the reasons why a club who, as we all know, were in the Premier League just ten years ago, have since plummeted to the brink of non-league extinction — the myriad factors of which I cannot begin to explain, suffice to say they involve bad decisions, bad luck and Ashley Ward. I can make an educated guess that there is no professional football club in Europe, possibly the whole world, who have had a worse decade than Bradford City. Tear-soaked Balti pies have become a Valley Parade staple. All hope is gone. Our lives have been ruined in so many ways. HAVING SAID THAT, there are still faint signs of life left in the carcass of a once-Carboneful football club.Absolutely nobody at all was expecting anything at the beginning of this season. Having spent the past four years in the league’s basement division, the arrogant sense of entitlement that pervaded the club has been diluted by having to endure home-defeats to the likes of Hereford and Macclesfield. Midfield enigma Omar Daley was released, we were told by the chairman that the club was once again struggling to pay its bills and manager Peter Jackson (more on him later) had made signings that looked suspiciously panicked. We were told by the chairman that this would be a ‘building season’, with the emphasis on bringing through young talent rather than another year of spending excessive wages on 31-year-old journeymen who look at running as a needless chore.

Despite the lack of pre-season optimism and promise, the club still managed to sell more than 8,000 season tickets. Maybe, we all began to think, this was the season we would finally hit the bottom and bounce. Maybe we would all remember that sense of hope we once felt many years ago. Maybe we will join hands and come together as one, embracing the club to our collective bosom and reciprocating the efforts of the young whippersnappers with titanic waves of appreciative applause.

We lost to Aldershot Town on the opening day of the season. Then we drew. Then we lost. Then we lost again. Any sense of quiet optimism we may have had quickly dissolved like a lorry load of Alka Seltzer in a swimming pool. We were, quite simply, awful. Without wanting to single out any individuals for criticism, my brother and I would make bets with each other at the beginning of matches as to how many ‘minor’ and ‘major’ mistakes certain players would make during the course of an afternoon. That faint, rabid roar of the celebrating away-section had become all too commonplace, with many of the home fans venting their frustrations towards players who were too young and too frightened to simply take it on the chin. Held together by battling performances from midfield general, Michael Flynn and the almost psychotic willingness to receive physical punishment from striker, James Hanson, City would just about avoid embarrassing scorelines.

Then, all of a sudden, Peter Jackson left. Nobody was given a reason, with speculation rife in the Twittersphere, he presumably went back to emptying bedpans in a nursing home. Personally, I don’t believe Jackson to be a bad manager; he was just out of his depth at a club that has ruined many a greater man.

The temporary running of the club was then given to Jackson’s assistant, Colin Cooper — a former full-back at Middlesborough and respected footballing figure. The transformation was instant. We smashed four goals past Barnet before putting Sheffield Wednesday out of the JPT. The bloke with the haemorrhoids cushion who sits in front of me would gleefully cheer in between quaffs of his Bovril, and the fella behind me with the beard had finally managed to refrain from shouting venomous insults at young men who were a third of his age. Things were looking up.

We then appointed Phil Parkinson as permanent manager — a man who, although down on his luck, had a proven record of helping clubs (just Colchester, mind) punch above their weight. Parky didn’t mess about – he immediately signed players who were of a significantly higher calibre than we had become used to. Out went Guy Branston and Leon Osborne, in came Kyel Reid and Craig Fagan. Seriously. THE Craig Fagan. HOW?!

While performances improved dramatically, our results didn’t. Watching City bomb up the pitch with an almost nuclear force was truly a welcome sight at Valley Parade; what was decidedly unwelcome and depressingly familiar was the calamitous and often comedic defending that so often goes hand-in-hand with this style of football. Sometimes it’s like watching a chilling episode of Chucklevision, in which Paul and Barry had found themselves jobs as centre-halves, leading to a series of catastrophic mishaps that, to opposing fans, must have been hilarious.

To this day, we have continued to concede soft goals that cost us the game, but the most depressing part of the season is that the players have never stopped trying. As supporters, we have become so used to being able to point at the fact that we had a squad of talented but lazy individuals who would ‘squander our hard-earned cash on women and sports cars’, but we have no such explanation to fall back on this season. When the curtain was drawn on yet another heartbreaking home-defeat at the weekend (incidentally, to the Chuckle Brother-supported Rotherham United), some of the players, racked with exhaustion and dejection, fell to the floor. They had given their all — proving once and for all what we City fans will never truly accept — we aren’t good enough.

Should we win at Gillingham today, the balti pies are on me.

The Two Unfortunates
The non-partisan website with an eye on the Football League

1 Comment

  1. Bill Turianski
    November 27, 2011

    Nice article, Richard.
    Gillingham 0-0 Bradford City, attendance 7,074. Gillingham is currently averaging 5,235 per game, so it looks like Bradford took over 1,000 in travelling support. That's impressive, when you consider the time and distance to get from West Yorkshire to Kent. I hope things improve for the Bantams. Supporters of a club that is currently producing 10,176 per game attendance, in the 4th division, deserve better than this, for sure.


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