Tag: Bradford City

Popplewell, Hillsborough And The Bradford Fire

“Soccer attracts more hackneyed hyperbole than most sports. We talk about “tragedy” when we mean “disappointment” and “disaster” when we mean “defeat”. When real tragedy and disaster occur, we tend to be stuck for the rights words.” Those words, written by David Lacey of the Guardian a quarter of a century ago, ring as true today as they did when they were written in the aftermath of the Bradford fire of 1985. That the loudest criticism this week of the relatives of those that were killed just over four years after the Bradford fire at Hillsborough should come from Sir Oliver Popplewell, the former judge that led the inquiry into it, is a grim irony for the relatives of those that were killed on the death-trap terraces in 1989 that he should have been their most vociferous critic this week. Popplewell’s open letter to The Times will only have reinforced the belief of the survivors and the relatives of the victims of those that died that day that the establishment is incapable of understanding their pain. “The citizens of Bradford behaved with quiet dignity and great courage.”, he wrote. “They did not harbour conspiracy theories. They did not seek endless further inquiries. They buried their dead, comforted the bereaved and succoured the injured. They organised a sensible compensation scheme and moved on. Is there, perhaps, a lesson there for...

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Yet More Uncertainty For Bradford City

Ten years ago, Bradford City were a Premier League Club. Since then, they have dropped to League Two, had two spells in administration, and it still doesn’t look as if their future is getting any brighter. Jason MacKeown reports on their latest woes. Following a decade of regular failure, Bradford City supporters have become used to seeing pre-season expectations shattered by this point of the year. But even judged on such low standards, this season’s misery on and off the pitch seems like a new level of under-achievement. Bradford began this campaign – as laughable as it seems now – the pre-season favourites to win promotion from League Two. Yet with five games to go the only possibility of departing this division is a lingering threat of relegation to non-league. Four defeats from five games – the last two ending 0-3 and 0-4 – leaves them with some work to do to confirm their survival. Even if the Bantams do get enough points to scramble over the finishing line, the prospect of a fifth consecutive season in League Two is hardly one to excite a club widely considered too big to remain in England’s bottom tier. And it appears that things really can’t go on like this. Over the last fortnight, the Bradford City Board has revealed it is in talks with the two companies who own Valley Parade,...

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10 Years Of Torment For Bradford City

Bradford City slipped into the bottom two of the Football League at the weekend when only ten years ago they were still a Premier League club. Bradford supporter Jason MacKeown is of the opinion that it is somebody else’s turn to suffer. The glass-empty default setting which typifies most football fans means that, from time-to-time, we’ve all wallowed in self-pity over our team’s failings and believed no one else has it so bad. But if there was a prize for the most-suffering supporters in England over the last decade, few would begrudge or feel envious if it was awarded to Bradford City fans. Exactly 10 years ago, Bradford were riding high in their second Premier League season; with the likes of Benito Carbone, Dan Petrescu and Stan Collymore sporting claret and amber. The previous May, supporters flooded onto the pitch to celebrate the Bantams defeating Liverpool 1-0 to heroically avoid relegation. Four years prior to that, 30,000 Bradfordians were at Wembley to see their City beat Notts County 2-0 in the Division Two (now League One) Play Off Final. It had been a meteoric rise, and there was every reason to believe the sky was the limit. Back in the present, a 1-0 home defeat to Morecambe on Saturday has left now-League Two Bradford languishing 91st position out of 92 clubs. It has been one long, very bumpy fall...

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The Bradford Fire Revisited

Today is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Bradford Fire. In view of this, we are this morning republishing an article that first appeared on this site in May 2007. Perhaps it’s the extremely close proximity that it had to Heysel. Perhaps it was because it was dwarfed by Hillsborough, just four years later or by the Heysel Stadium disasaster, which came just two and a half weeks after it. Perhaps it was just because it occurred at a match between two of English football’s less glamorous clubs, but the Bradford Fire feels like one of British football’s hidden tragedies. Yet the events of Valley Parade on the 11th of May 1985 were, effectively, the beginning of the series of events that culminated in where we are today in terms of stadium safety and design. You have to think very hard about it, but the simple fact of the matter is that the majority of English football stadia were anything like what would be described, by modern standards, as “safe” in the early 1980s. You can count on the fingers of both hands the number of new stands that had been built in the decade prior to 1985, and no team had moved into a new stadium in thirty years. The only significant development in crowd control in that thirty year period were the fences that went up around the...

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In Praise Of… “The Beautiful Game? Searching For The Soul Of Football”, by David Conn

In November 2001, I (as was my wont at the time) made the short journey from my flat in the centre of St Albans to Clarence Park to watch The Saints play Basingstoke Town in the Ryman League Premier Division. It was an uninspiring match – a flattering 3-1 win – but more concerning was that, rather than being able to settle down to watch the results come on Sky TV afterwards, we were stuck with the BBC’s coverage. The club hadn’t been paying its bills, and the satellite TV had been cut off. Two months later, the sky fell in. The club failed a CVA that it had entered into and the chairman put it up for sale for £1. The Ryman League suspended the club until it secured new ownership and got its house in order. For five long weeks, with no match day revenue to sustain it, St Albans City slid towards what seemed like an inevitable winding up order. On the clubs message board, tentative discussions were held over what we would do when the inevitable came, but none us really understood very much about what we could do as supporters to save the club. At the last minute, a new owner was found and the club was rescued, but St Albans City sailed very, very close to the wind during those five, dark weeks...

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