Wexford Youths 0
Bradford City 4
Hanson 18, 29, Hannah 20 (pen), Wells 83
Tuesday 24 July, 2012
By David Lawrence
At 4:55 am I spotted the first City shirt in queue at the security check at Leeds Bradford airport. I wondered how many more would be making the trip as I entered the surreal world of the airport waiting lounge. Once inside it was the usual scene of excited children, crying babies, disorientated old ladies, oily-skinned young women looking for bargain beauty products and people that had been released from the rigors of life for two weeks and clothed like they had woken in a fancy dress shop.
I saw several more City shirts as a flock of Italian school children fluttered by, eventually perching nearby to share two small cakes and a drink; the last of their spend. Their English equivalents were already forming a queue at the Burger King. I joined another for a coffee that was marshalled by an attractive barista with a t-shirt embosomed ‘simply deliciously irresistible’ but she’d have to be. For nothing could make me miss flight FR153 dep 6:30 and arr 7:25 to watch Bradford City in Ireland.
Dublin was wet, as it and the rest of Ireland would be for most of the day. Whilst the thirty or so city fans I’d seen on the flight headed off for trains and hire cars, I jumped in my good friend Rick’s motor for the journey down to Wexford. Unfortunately, Rick had may business calls to make en-route, but this gave me time to catch up on some sleep and reflect on the Tadcaster game that I had watched last Saturday. For a low-key friendly, I’d really enjoyed the game, which had left me feeling positive about the club’s future. The new signings had looked confident, skilful and strong, albeit for 45 minutes, and I’d seen something that I’ve not witness for a while – a product of the youth system, still in a City shirt, that looked a genuine footballing prospect: Adam Baker.
To kill more time I browsed the internet to discover that only two of Saturday’s trialists had made ‘the cut’ for Ireland. McNamee, who for me was the stand-out applicant from the game, and Boateng, who had looked strong and eager to get forward but needed to work on his distribution. I felt regret for the others, particularly Vidal had looked good but inexperienced and Taiwo who was classy but easily knocked off the ball and apparently too expensive. As for the others, they appeared to have agents that were more skilful than them and could be summed up by the idiom ‘never mistake motion for action’. Still there would be more trialists tonight throwing their footballing hat in the ring.
It was a day for hats as the rain continued and the day dragged by as my mate continued his work. It was starting to look like a conspiracy to keep me out of the many pubs he’d mentioned in his review. I was beginning to wonder what had possessed me to travel so far to assuage my fixation with BCAFC. I reflected on Jason’s and Alex’s machinations about needing this fix which we supplemented with OMBs, Twitter feeds forums, and wondered if we hadn’t become tools of our own tools.
Fortunately, before I could indulge in further nasal-gazing, we arrived in Wexford. A Bingley sized town sat at the mouth of the river Slaney. It didn’t look too exciting, but we were pleasantly surprised to find a lively pub scene and many City fans that had been enjoying it throughout the day. Some looked worse for the wear. After several attempts we settled for a great pub known to the locals as the Undertaker’s on account of the dual role the landlord had back in the 1940s. The pub was proudly run by Eddie Macken whose family were related to the famous jockey of the same name. The Guinness was gorgeous and the atmosphere friendly. Not surprisingly, many City fans had made this their base. We met and talked with many who had come by all means of transport. The anticipation of the match was growing.
After several ‘afore-you-goes’ we made haste by taxi to the ground. Ferrycarrig Park is a nice ground with a clubhouse that is overly big for the team’s present status. Unfortunately, it is some distance away from the town and appears to be in the middle of nowhere. However, the pitch was lush and flatter than the Tadcaster surface, which should produce a more fluent passing game for the two hundred or so fans present. The teams were doing their warm-ups, so we decided to warm-up in the clubhouse bar.
For the second time in the day I was greeted by a surreal scene. Lots of City fans mingling with the non-playing City players and their friends and having a laugh. It was a great atmosphere and would set the tone for the evening, where you could stroll up and talk to anyone. I was fortunate to get chatting to Kyel Reid who was really positive about the season, the manager and the club. Later I also talked to Roy McArdle and complimented him on his Tadcaster debut. Rick managed to talk to Ritchie Jones and we both agreed what a great set of players they were. A credit to the club.
On the pitch several new trialists were looking to join that club. A former Reading player, Carl McHugh was playing at centre back and the midfield had a McNivenesk Scot Donnelly. Although it’s hard to draw many conclusion from one outing, neither really stood out as being classy or the opposite. Donnelly looked to be blowing quite a lot but was ‘tidy’ in midfield, while McHugh had very little to do but did it effectively when called on to block a rare Wexford effort. They were joined by the aforementioned trialists McNamee and Boateng who both put in improved performances compared to Saturday. The latter’s passing is still a concern but they have done well and ought to get their desired contracts.
The first half was fairly bright with both teams showing a good level of commitment. Wexford appeared slightly more of a challenge than Tadcaster had been and were not short of effort. City matched this, and were ready for the tussle as Ricky Ravenhill demonstrated early on with a crunching tackle that earnt him a yellow card. It wasn’t long before we scored. McNamee produced a great cross which was meat and drink for the stand out player of the match James Hanson. In the sort of form he showed today he is a fine athlete and un-playable. His second, a sweet 20 yard drive into the top corner of the net, affirmed this. Sandwiched between Ross Hannah scored, which shouldn’t be a surprise as that’s what he does. The half finished 0-3 to warm applause by all present.
Unfortunately, the second half was all bluster and very little bite. Wexford went close to scoring after about ten minutes through Nolan, but it was ruled offside. That prompted an avalanche of changes from Mr Parkinson who brought on G Jones, N Wells, W Atkinson, L Oliver, A Davies and A Connell with the ink but dry on his own particular contract Alan Connell. He immediately had a positive effect on the game setting up Jones for an effort on goal. Generally, he looked bright, displaying good movement and making intelligent runs. He’s of neither the Hanson, Hannah, nor Nahki mold. So Parkinson is correct when he says he’ll bring something different. In the main the game petered out though with only Nahki’s goal to brighten things up. It was slightly disappointing.
However, that’s only my opinion. As I mention Rick and I met several City fans along the way. On the way out of the ground and back at ‘the Undertakers’ I asked them what they had thought: young Adrian from Baildon, “Good, but nothing special”; Rick from Dublin via Heaton, “ok, but would have like to have seen more control and passing through the midfield”; Sue from Bradford “lovely game”; Willie a local “the penalty seemed a little harsh but the lads did well against better players”; Alan from Dublin via Clayton “both teams acquitted themselves well given the differences in ability”; Mark from Sheffield “it was orl rite”; Sam from Manchester “ a good game and worth the trip”; Johnny from Bingley “class place, boring game”; Ben from Menston “1st half was quality. One word Hanson”; Adie from Baildon “first half comfortable, second half shite”; Finally, Lenny the City Gent “It was a good workout. The Irish people are really friendly and it’s a nice place. So I’m glad I came”.
We left Lenny ordering English food in a Chinese restaurant from a Polish girl in Ireland. It was a surreal day.
City: Duke, Boateng, Bass, Ravenhill (Jones 60), McHugh (Davies 60), McArdle (Oliver 60), Baker (Atkinson 70), Donnelly, Hanson (Wells 60), Hannah (Connell 60), McNamee (Meredith 60)
Sub not used: McLaughlin