Bradford City’s Triumph Eclipses Aston Villa’s Disastrous Night

6 By Ian  |   The Ball  |   January 23, 2013  |     48

Just when he thought that things couldn’t possibly get any worse, they did for Paul Lambert at Villa Park last night. A place in the League Cup final was his one shot at redemption, an opportunity to be able to lift the spirits of his seemingly psychologically shattered team and turn around one of the most alarming collapses in form that the Premier League had seen in recent years. For any Premier League club overturning a two goal deficit from the first leg of a tie such of this should have been eminently achievable, but Bradford City dug deep, scored another set piece goal and, in spite of a tense finish brought about by a second Villa goal, held on without too much difficulty to achieve something quite unprecedented in, perhaps, the entire history of English football.

Much was said last night of the 1962 League Cup, when Rochdale of the Fourth Division reached the final of the competition before being beaten by Norwich City. To compare the League Cup finals of 1962 and 2013, however, is not to compare like with like. In its nascent years, it frequently looked as if the League Cup wouldn’t survive as a competition with the biggest clubs opting not to take part in it. Furthermore, the final of 1962 was not a Wembley occasion but a two legged affair shoehorned into the end of the domestic season. Finally, and it is perhaps this that makes Bradford’s achievement for remarkable than anything else, the financial gap between Norwich City and Rochdale in 1962 was nowhere near as overwhelmingly massive as it will be between Bradford City and the winners of the second semi-final between Chelsea and Swansea City. It has been much reported already that the Bradford team that played last night cost £7,500 to assemble while the Aston Villa side that failed so ingloriously over these two legs cost £45m. Such financial disparity would have been unimaginable half a century ago.

To openly and somewhat forlornly wonder where Aston Villa go from here is a question that has been asked repeatedly over the last few weeks or. It seems that Lambert’s team has suffered almost every conceivable form of defeat in rapid succession, from their eight goal hammering at Chelsea last month to last night’s abject display. If there was a question mark over whether this team is ‘good enough’ (an indistinct statement that can only reasonably be followed by asking ‘…for what?’), then losing over two legs to a side three divisions below them in a cup semi-final is an answer, of sorts. With the team’s confidence apparently shot to pieces and with tens of millions of pounds having been spent in recent years for practically no return, at this stage in the season Aston Villa only seem fit for relegation and its grim consequences. Whether Lambert will even be at Villa Park to witness this, however, is a question that can be answered with any certainty. Prior to kick-off last night, clawing back that two goal deficit against Bradford City felt like Lambert’s stop-off at the last chance saloon. His position as the manager of the club surely hangs by the thinnest of threads this afternoon.

For manager Phil Parkinson and his team today, however, there can only be joy and perhaps some feeling of disbelief. The main task at hands remains promotion from League Two, a division in which Bradford City have languished for several years whilst seldom looking likely to turn any significant corners. This season, however, form has finally improved – although there remains work to do in this respect. It is for the supporters of the club, however, that we should reserve our most sincere congratulations. From the tragic and unnecessary deaths of fifty-four of their number at Valley Parade in May 1985 to the years of decline which followed the club’s two years in the Premier League at the end of the last century, only the stoniest of hearts could fail to warmed by this club having its day in the sun. Bradford City will play in the final of the League Cup this season. It’s unbelievable, but it is the truth nevertheless.

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Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.

  • January 23, 2013 at 1:34 pm


    Congratulations to Bradford! Worthy finalists, and you never know…

    (Watch now as the press pay five minutes lip service to your unprecedented achievement and then devote weeks of copy to how Premier League clubs don’t take it seriously anymore.)

  • January 23, 2013 at 1:53 pm


    Congratulations to Bradford from a Villa fan. You deserved it.

    It is good for football to see a Premier League club embarrassed. Bad for Aston Villa, but good for football as a whole.

    Where do Villa go from here? Fixtures with Bradford on a far more regular basis.

  • January 23, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Keeping Possession

    Congratulations to the Bradford players, a well deserved achievement!
    Aston Villa is really in deep trouble this year, they need to start winning and quick!

  • January 23, 2013 at 4:49 pm


    Hiya! I know this is kinda off topic however , I’d figured I’d
    ask. Would you be interested in exchanging links or
    maybe guest authoring a blog post or vice-versa? My website covers a lot of the same topics as yours and I think we could greatly benefit from each other.
    If you’re interested feel free to send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you! Awesome blog by the way!

  • January 24, 2013 at 11:43 pm


    Good for plucky little minnows Bradford and their 25,000 all-seater £40m stadium and recent administration to escape millions in tax.

    A true football fairy tale.

  • April 8, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Aston Villa Fan

    the tigers are back on the top football premier league team last saturday in the Match against the West Brom

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