Bradford City - a club full of history - but stuck in League Two after play-off heartbreak. Could this be the Bantams’ season after Carlisle shattered their dreams last season…
Andy Cook netted a League Two hattrick upon his return from injury providing Bradford with a 4-1 win against Newport County. The Paraders, as they’re also known, had not won in the league since Cook last played which was a month before the game. The striker and his goals could prove crucial for Mark Hughes’ side in their quest to reach the top.
11th-placed in League Two, Bradford are unbeaten in their last five league games, but either side of two wins comes three draws against Harrogate Town, Grimsby Town and Mansfield Town - a lot of town’s. Two points adrift of the play-off places after nine games played and seven away from league-leaders Notts County, it’s all to play for with a long way to go.
Walsall are this weekend’s opponents at Valley Parade - a stadium of two halves you could say. Half with likening to Old Trafford and spectacular in its own right especially for League Two, but the other with a traditional, old-school style, and one which stands out.
The Saddlers arrive after Michael Carrick’s side knocked out the Bantams in the Carabao Cup midweek. Emmanuel Latte Lath and Morgan Rodgers’ strikes were enough to knock Bradford out of the cup at the third-round stage.
Valley Parade was packed for the cup occasion where they hosted the Championship side but 11 years on from an incredible run to the final, it wasn’t to be this time around.
Who can forget when Bradford lined up against Swansea City at the Wembley Stadium, with 90 minutes between the two sides deciding who takes the prestigious cup. There will have been a large proportion of football fans rooting for the League Two side as they faced Swansea who were a top-flight club at the time.
However, the final and great occasion ended 5-0, and not the way Bradford fans will have dreamt. But, it was still a memorable run and one which will be locked in the fans’ memories forever. Swansea would qualify for the UEFA Europa League as Bradford appeared in their first major cup final since they won the 1911 FA Cup Final, and were the first fourth-tier side to reach the League Cup final since Rochdale in 1962.
Famous wins over Arsenal and Aston Villa will live long in the memories of those who watched on. Gunners defender Thomas Vermaelen equalised with two minutes to go in the quarter-final clash, taking the match to extra time. But, Bradford held on and beat the Gunners 3–2 on penalties setting up a semi-final meeting with Premier League side Villa.
A game of two legs, it ended 4-3 on aggregate with quite the drama between the two sides. But, the fairytale ending never came.
Much like last season with play-off pain, Carlisle this time inflicting defeat on the Bantams. They’d go on to secure promotion, but what it could’ve been.
The 2022–23 season was the 120th season in the existence of Bradford City and their fourth consecutive season in League Two. That’s now five after their season came to an end at Brunton Park, the game ending 3-2 on aggregate and leaving Bradford fans distraught.
Seeing their hopes and dreams shattered, it wasn’t to be, but as one fan put it after the defeat: “We have had a much better season than last season. We go again.”
They go again and are in a rich vein of form looking to extend their unbeaten run to six league games against Walsall and clamber up towards the top-end of the table.
As a huge lover of their stadium, history and club, I’ll be hoping to see success for the Bantams and Mark Hughes’ side this season.
What do you make of Bradford City’s season so far, and do you think they can go one better than last season?