Back to Wembley: A night at the movies with a Bradford Blockbuster

16 May
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Photo courtesy of Wendy Michallat

By Katie Whyatt

The 2012/13 season has brought us more thrills, spills and twists than anything that has been churned out of Tinseltown recently – and there’s still another chapter left to go.

The Bantams’ incredible year would form an ideal script for Hollywood executives to sink their teeth into, especially if the journey ends with victory in the play off final.

Bradford City sailed the crest of the League Cup wave, knocking out Wigan, Arsenal and Aston Villa en route to football’s home. Couple sheer determination, a pinch of Lady Luck and an underdog status with high-octane defensive battles and nail-biting penalty shootouts, and the club rapidly became the centre of attention, causing ripples in countries as far-flung as Japan and America.

However, City crashed on the big stage as they were torn apart at the hands of the merciless Swansea City. It was the first time in the competition that Bradford had looked like a League Two side, and, gosh, it was crushing. It wasn’t how the narrative was supposed to end. It was anything but the perfect finish to the otherwise textbook fairytale.

After finding a bit of form in the League, City’s promotion chase was back on track, helped by a bit of good fortune with regards to Exeter and Fleetwood’s results.

It wasn’t exactly a coast to the capital, though. There were the horrendous officiating mishaps as Rotherham rocked up at Valley Parade, and, after the lacklustre first-half performance in the Burton home leg, there was a fear that Bradford had blown their chances of a League One place. But the team struck back in clinical fashion, roared on by an army of 1,500 travelling fans, to book a return trip to the place that is rapidly becoming a second home for City.

If Parkinson’s men win the play off final and snatch the promotion that has so far eluded them during the League Two stint… what a perfect end to the story that would be.

You can picture the movie’s tagline now: Bradford City’s story, a pulsating tale of grit and determination. Shatter the odds. Surprise a nation. Valiantly clamber to your feet after upset on one of the world’s biggest stages, and go on to achieve what you’ve spent years striving for.

All of that, against the backdrop of ten tempestuous years of constant decline and several successive relegation battles, and Hollywood bosses will be thinking that all of their Christmases have come at once.

Characterisation isn’t too difficult, either. City’s team is brimming with down-to-earth and gutsy heroes who will be the perfect protagonists for this exciting adventure: James Hanson, the former supermarket shelf-stacker whose blistering header stunned Aston Villa; Gary Jones, the midfield engine; Carl McHugh, the Donegal teenager; Matt Duke, Phil Parkinson, Rory McArdle. Include every single one of the Bradford City players, because they are all our heroes.

The squad is a motley composition of champions: our champions. Parkinson’s diverse mix of men, who have inspired an entire nation with their giant-killing odyssey. Even the Harry Potter series would struggle to provide you with more endearing stars.

Villains come in the form of the cynics, the Premier League big boys and the referees. And – shudder – Steve Evans.

Parkinson would be played by Hugh Grant, and Timothy Spall would star as Mark Lawn. Garry Thompson’s on-screen counterpart just about goes without saying (It’s Daniel Craig, by the way.), and Bantams Banter could make a cameo appearance. I could go on.

Whether any of these are actually apt choices remains to be seen, but it’s certainly a start.

If The Damned United can be turned into a book and a film, why not City’s story? It’s certainly just as enthralling a tale as that of Brian Clough’s ill-fated tenure at Leeds United.

Intertwine the main story – of City’s compelling exploits this year – with the players’ lives and the fans’ views, and boom: you’ve got compulsive viewing.

I’ll take my Oscar now, I think.

Who knows? If City win on Saturday, the idea of a movie won’t seem so far fetched at all.

Play off final: Width of a Post build-up

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2 Responses to “Back to Wembley: A night at the movies with a Bradford Blockbuster”

  1. Philip Jackson May 16, 2013 at 6:48 pm #

    Same idea myself

    maybe they could make a short promo (a la the ‘small steps, big differences’ video) and stick it in the season review dvd and distribute it around the big studios, maybe Lawn can pop over to Hollywood whilst they are in Las Vegas. Can’t think of many actors for the roles, but they are a good looking bunch (Bruce Willis is definitely too old to play Gary Jones though)

  2. Sebastian Cargutt May 17, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    J.L. Carr wrote ‘How Sinderby Steeple Wanderers Won the FA Cup’ in the 1960s and I read it as a child. It’s an excellent book, mimicking City’s cup exploits, although it is fictional. Carr was also a Yorkshireman.

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