This time 10 years ago, Bradford City were getting used to the idea that their first season back in the Football League was not going to end in an immediate return to the Premier League. Jim Jefferies had departed, Benito Carbone was on his second loan stint away from Valley Parade and anger at the job chairman Geoffrey Richmond was performing was beginning to grow. Having begun the campaign with strong hopes of promotion, City would end the season in a disappointing 15th place – a position they haven’t come close to bettering since.
It is stating the obvious to say that the last decade has been grim for everyone connected with the club. But amidst the gloom of the fall down the Football League ladder and reoccurring financial concerns, there have been some moments to savour. Without them, there’d have been nothing to keep us supporters going through the bleak moments.
To help remember some of those moments, Width of a Post writers have been asked to share their favourite post-Premier League match as part of a new mini-series. These will appear at semi-regular intervals over the next few weeks. We’d also love to receive your contribution too, so if you fancy writing 300-500 words on your personal favourite match from the last decade, please email Widthofapost@gmail.com.
Tim Roche kicks us off by reflecting on a sunny day in Cheltenham five and a half years ago.
Cheltenham Town 1 Bradford City 2, League One, Saturday 23 September, 2006
This away trip was memorable for a number of reasons, not least for an entertaining City performance which left me naively believing we were in with a good chance of promotion to the Championship.
I was visiting a couple of mates for Freshers week at Lincoln University and at some point during the Friday evening it was decided a group of us would travel to Whaddon Road the following day. Unsurprisingly, following a heavy night in the Student Union, we awoke on the Saturday somewhat later than planned and would be cutting it extremely fine to get to Cheltenham in time for a 3pm kick off.
After an eventful journey down we arrived in a sunny Cheltenham town centre at around 2.45pm – but we found ourselves in a tailback, with little idea of where the ground was. After what seemed like an eternity, someone eventually spotted the floodlights of Whaddon Road and the car was quickly dumped in a cul-de-sac nearby.
By now it was 3pm and we could hear the roar of the crowd as the game kicked off. Unfortunately we had no idea of how to get into the ground as we were in the middle of a residential area. After 4 minutes, we heard a loud cheer and it was obvious that Cheltenham had taken the lead. After a few more minutes of going around in circles and having asked numerous locals for directions, we eventually found the away turnstiles and we were in!
Although Cheltenham had taken an early lead through Kayode Odejayi, City appeared to be holding their own with David Graham proving to be especially lively up front. Jermaine Johnson and Lee Holmes were also looking dangerous on the wings.
Just after the half hour mark, we noticed Dean Windass tussling with the Cheltenham captain, John Finnigan around the half way line. Windass then proceeded to grab Finnigan’s groin in a ‘Vinnie Jones on Gazza’ esque manner which prompted the Cheltenham man to lash out with a vicious elbow.
Thanks to the intervention of the 4th official, Finnigan was sent off and we City fans cheered with delight. Windass had used his vast experience to hit Cheltenham where it hurt (quite literally!) and the home crowd were incensed.
In the 2nd half City seized the initiative and carved out numerous good chances but we were proving wasteful in front of goal until the 52nd minute when David Graham nodded in an equaliser.
Quarter of an hour later, City were ahead thanks to a great run from Jermaine Johnson. The City fans went wild and many ran down to the front of the stand to celebrate in front of the players. I attempted to join them but as I jumped from my 3rd row seat my foot clipped the back of the chair in front and I went tumbling down the concourse to much laughter from those seated around us.
I didn’t care one bit. It was a brilliant performance from City, which lifted us into 4th position – and I honestly believed we were capable of getting out of League One that season. I was proved right, but unfortunately not in the manner I had hoped! Cheltenham away was a rare highlight in the relegation season of 2006/07, and certainly one of the most memorable City away days I have experienced since we were in the Premiership.
Categories: Post-Prem matches