Concluding our Midweek Player Focus Close Season summer series, looking back at past player of the season winners, Mark Scully reflects on the 1999/00 champion and club legend Peter Beagrie.
Ask any Bradford City fan to name their favourite all time City eleven and more often than not on the left wing would be Peter Beagrie. Personally he’s my all time favourite Bradford player and I guess I’m not on my own in having that view; few players in my time of watching Bradford have had the ability to get the fans on their feet as often as Beags did. You can look at more flashy and high profile players that have played for the club such as the Chris Waddles and the Benito Carbones of this world, but Beags would be firmly in the mix for being the best.
During his excellent spell at Valley Parade, Division One and Premier League right backs knew they would be in a game when facing Beags and no doubt finished the game with a bad back after the skilful winger had turned them inside and out on numerous occasions throughout the match. In the twilight of his career Beags was to do more humiliating to defenders only this time it would be in the lower leagues and at the rather less glamorous arena (amongst others) of Glanford Park.
When the decision was made to let Beagrie leave the club, following relegation back to the Football League as the financial crisis was hitting the club, it probably turned out to be too soon. Beags still had the ability to play, as he showed at Scunthorpe United playing over 150 times for them after leaving City. Sounds remarkably similar to that of Stuart McCall; Macca carried on with Neil Warnock’s Sheffield United after leaving City – once again showing the board and management up for letting a player clearly still good enough to play for the club go.
When Chris Kamara tempted Geoffrey Richmond to part with £50,000 and sign Beagrie from Manchester City, no City fan could have imagined that the twinkle toed winger would play such an instrumental role in what was going to happen in the coming seasons at Valley Parade.
Prior to playing his trade at Maine Road with Manchester City, the Middlesbrough born Beagrie also turned out for his hometown club along with stints at Sheffield United, Stoke City and Everton with a small loan spell at Sunderland thrown in for good measure. During his four year spell at Valley Parade he had two loan periods away from the Bantams. He joined Premier League perennial strugglers of the late 90s Everton as they battled once more with the drop from the top flight and towards the end of his time at City, he ended up out on loan at Wigan Athletic.
During the promotion season Beags netted an impressive 15 goals from midfield in all competitions, the most important and historic of those was on the final day at Molineux, which will always be etched in my memory. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to go Wolverhampton, and had to make do with a radio but that afternoon will always be locked away in the memory bank and will never be erased no matter how good or indifferent the current crop of players perform over the coming years.
Whenever Premier League years is shown on SKY and covers the two seasons that Bradford had in the top flight, it always brings a smile to my face, and even more so when it shows Beags rasping left foot drive into the top corner at the Kop end against Leeds followed by his summersault celebration, that was by now a frequent event on the hallowed turf at Valley Parade.
In fact it was Beagrie who in the relegation campaign of 2000/2001 was to score a goal that to this day still is one of my favourite scored by a City player, once again in front of the Kop and under the lights on a cold December afternoon. It was against Coventry City in one of the few victories that we managed to get that season 2-1 was the score, but I’ll always remember Beags picking the ball up on the edge of the area (dug out side) jinking his way inside the penalty area, beating 3-4 players on his way, before calming slotting the ball past highly rated keeper at the time Chris Kirkland.
Cue the somersault, and pandemonium erupting on the terraces. Beagrie’s goal capped a sweet comeback after Aussie John Aloisi had given the Sky Blues the lead, before two goals in three minutes late on, first from Stan ‘the man’ Collymore before that Beagrie goal sent me (and others) in raptures. Great memories.
There’s no doubt that Peter Beagrie was a truly special player, the squad that achieved promotion to the Premier League in 1999 will always be remembered with fond memories, but certain players from that squad are revered more than others by the City fans, and I would certainly say that Beags is one of those players.
Maybe one day he could come back to the club in some sort of coaching capacity, at the moment he’s got a steady little number working for SKY covering the Football League. But should times change and he wanted to get involved with a club again, I’m sure that City would welcome hearing from him. You struggle to hear a bad word said about Beags from his time at Valley Parade, not only does he come across as a decent man, but he was an outstanding player who was key in the promotion winning side, as well as the side that stayed in the Premier League…guess it does help the fans fall in love with a player, or players, if they are actually producing the goods on the pitch and that’s certainly something Mr Beagrie did time and time again.
Take a bow Peter – or should that be a somersault or two?!
The Midweek Player Focus – Close Season Special series