10-6 – The greatest Bradford City matches of the last 50 years (as voted by Bradford City supporters of 2012)

10: Middlesbrough 0 City 1 (7th August 1999)

Premier League

City spent much of the build up to their first top flight campaign in 77 years being ridiculed by the national press and falling apart internally, due to contract disputes with four of the promotion heroes. Yet as they finally took to the field for the first game in the Premiership, everything came together more wonderfully than any of us dared hope as the team dubbed ‘Dad’s army’ made a winning start.

Andy O’Brien had been assigned the role of man-marking Paul Gascoigne, and performed the role superbly to subdue one of the greatest English players of all time. John Dreyer and David Wetherall were outstanding at the back, as Middlesbrough grew increasingly frustrated. Then, deep in stoppage time, Lee Mills sent debut boy Dean Saunders clear on goal, and he finished superbly to send a packed away end into ecstasy. The sight of Saunders’ mockingly celebrating, by pretending to carry a walking stick, is one of the iconic moments of an unforgettable season.

David White: “Will never forget that feeling of unbridled joy when Saunders scored to win us a game that, by rights, we should have lost about 4-0!”

9: Nottingham Forest 2 City 2 (4th October 1985)

League Cup

By Simon Collins

City had won the first game of this two legged league cup match 3-2 at Valley Parade in what was one of the shocks of the night considering Forest were 3rd in the Premier League at the time. Two weeks later 5,000 City fans travelled down to the City Ground more in hope than expectation that we could progress to the next round. The atmosphere was mental in the away end as we totally outsung the home fans for the full 90 minutes.

The first half was even but Forest brought the tie level when Stuart Pearce bundled in from close range. The drama that the second half brought though will live long in the memory. With the City fans urging the team on, Paul (PC) Showler headed in the equaliser and put City ahead on aggregate. If that moment was amazing there was more to come. Forest managed to forge ahead again when Andrea Silenzi fired in a great goal and it looked like the dream was over. With the clock ticking down Wayne Jacobs picked up the ball wide on the left and whipped in a brilliant cross. Only one man on that pitch could have converted that ball and he did. Sticks (Ian Ormondroyd) came thundering in with a bullet header from 12 yards into the bottom corner and we had done it.

The way the away end reacted to that goal will live with me forever, ecstasy, disbelief and pure emotion. I can still the faces and hear the noise that greeted that goal. Another famous night!

Stuart Wright: “Forest at that time had a long standing unbeaten league record. We went one down and things looked ropey for a while but then two goals in front of the travelling army and we were through. A great game and as we stopped off at a service station on the way home the highlights were on TV, football at its best.”

Damian Clough: “Lived in Nottingham since I was young and got a lot of stick off Forest fans about how rubbish Bradford were. Up popped Ormondroyd. Did enjoy walking into the pub later on with my City scarf on!”

8: City 1 Liverpool 0 (27th August 1980)

League Cup

By Rob Hunt

Mighty European Champions Liverpool come to Valley Parade and are beaten by 4th Division City.   Terry Dolan smashes a free-kick through the wall, Ray Clemence blocks it back to Sir Bobby Campbell, who scuffs the ball into the bottom corner. As a nine-year-old this felt like the best night of my life!  The less said about the second leg the better.

David Hornsby: “This was one of my very first games at Valley Parade and I was convinced of the joys of supporting The Bantams after this one! The ‘Pool’ beat us 4-0 in the return, but it didn’t matter!”

7: City 3 Everton 1 (14th December 1988)

League Cup

By Simon Collins

League Cup 1988 and City were in pretty poor league form coming into this game against an Everton side that was doing well in Division One. Still Valley Parade was a sell out and the atmosphere was electric.

The game started and City were all over the Toffees with Big Sticks and Mark Leonard battering Dave Watson and co. in the Everton back line. It was Leonard who scored with a looping header over Nev Southall and within 10 minutes we were two up thanks to Mick Kennedy and Leigh Palin setting up the move which led to Ian Banks blasting home.

I thought I was dreaming and expected a tougher Everton to come out in the second half, but City were attacking the Kop and the fans were in full voice again (oh how I miss the old Kop, the atmosphere back in the day was brilliant and it will never be the same). City attacked with guile again and Mick Kennedy sent in a brilliant ball that Leigh Palin buried with his head. The noise and the surge from the crowd was crazy and will live long in the memory. Everton managed a late consolation but that was all they could muster as a famous night was concluded a few minutes later.

Andrew Szabo: “I was only eight at the time and have fond memories of old Kop. Being a kid, legs dangling through the bars of the fencing, trying to catch the tea lady for a bar of chocolate when she wheeled past. Night games were particularly special. At the time I didn’t fully appreciate the scale of the shock result: I just remember the magnificent atmosphere and fuss over a certain Stuart McCall returning. Magical night.”

6: City 2 Barnsley 1 (26th September 1998)

Division One

By Simon Collins

I can’t remember too much about the first 80 minutes of this game but the last 10 are engraved into my memory forever. City had started to perform under Paul Jewell following an indifferent start to the season after heavy investment, and we welcomed Barnsley who under John Hendrie had just had a season in the Premier League.

Barnsley were leading and City looked short of ideas; then Gordon Watson rose from the bench, after recently returning to fitness following 19 months of his career been cruelly denied to him by Kevin Gray of Huddersfield. The roar that greeted him will live long in the memory, but what happened after lives even more. Three minutes from the end Watson bundled in an equaliser and the relief was immense both for him and the crowd.

What happened next is my everlasting City memory. Robbie Blake poured forward teasing a twisting. Managing to get a powerful shot off, that was parried out into the penalty area, you could hear the roar of expectation as Watson again was first to the ball, and then hammered it into the top corner. He wheeled away in celebration, the whole crowd went totally mental in a way that I have never ever seen since at Valley Parade. The way the game had swung, the fact that it was Gordon Watson who had scored the goals – either way it has never been topped for me as a City fan.

Keith Bruce: “There was still time for Barnsley to hit the bar and Walsh to pull off a great save but the feeling after that game made all the heartache of watching City worthwhile. It has to be one of the greatest finishes in my time of watching City.”

Ben Hoole: “This day had everything. I remember meeting my dad at the back of the Kop as he’d done a book signing at WH Smith and I was dead proud of that – he’d done it with the Leeds Rhinos coach at the time, Graham Murray, who begged my dad to bring him! Perfect end to the game, Gordon Watson scored two scruffy goals to win it in the last minute. It was inevitable. Beags was absolutely destroying the right back, who was on a yellow and you knew once he’d gone we’d do it. The celebrations for the two goals were insane, I don’t think I’ve ever lost it like that since. Rumour has it former City and BPA keeper Pat Liney broke his ankle cheering the winner!”

Categories: Top 30 matches (survey 2012)

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1 reply

  1. It wasn’t Pat Liney, it was his son Kevin! I used to stand near him and his Dad on the Kop. The moment when Watson’s second went in was, strange to say, the most ecstatic moment I’ve experienced at a football match. Just something about the climax that the game built towards, all that early season angst, and Watson transcending all his personal frustrations. An incredible moment. Kevin assured me at the next match that it wasn’t me who broke his ankle! We were all bopping around so much, it’s what I imagine listening to The Clash live must have been like. Happy Days.

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