Parkinson unleashes his Team Claret Amber

Notts County 0

Bradford City 1


Hanson 95

Saturday 11 August, 2012

By Jason McKeown

That clean slate for the new season continues to shine brightly, after the first major test of its hardiness was successfully passed. Year on year of quashed pre-season expectations has surely led to the creation of a vaccine for Bradford City supporters against getting carried away by promising starts. But after James Hanson’s extra time thunderbolt sent the Bantams into Round Two of the League Cup, the urge to feel excited about the future was difficult to ignore.

It wasn’t just the result – defeating a team from a division above on their own patch – but the manner of the performance. A calm, measured and controlled team display that had all the hallmarks of their proud-looking manager on the sidelines. As he approaches his one year anniversary in charge, Phil Parkinson appears to have finally crafted a team from his own management mould.

After last Saturday’s emphatic friendly defeat to Bury revealed an RR-shaped hole, Parkinson emerged from a week on the training ground with a plan to play Will Atkinson in the centre of the park alongside Gary Jones. The young midfielder emphatically smashed low expectations to produce an eye-catching performance, which belatedly demonstrated why his manager had not been discouraged by his poor loan spell last season.

Indeed a measure of how well Atkinson performed was that most supporters around me started to call him “Will”, instead of “Atkinson” or “That-useless-t**ser-must-have-a-compromising-picture-of-Parkinson”. He and Jones shared attacking and defensive responsibilities impressively, as the unlikely pairing controlled the middle of the park.

A standard replicated by all. Parkinson struggled badly to get positive results on the road last season, but today he lined City up in an attacking-looking formation but with players well-drilled in dropping back when the opposition were in possession, to ensure the Bantams were difficult to break down. Then once the ball had been won, the entire team seemed to move up the park in tandem; meaning the ball could be knocked around with ease and a patience, which was rewarded when openings appeared. Two different stages to City’s play, which proved mightily effective. I think we’ll do better away from Valley Parade this season.

Luke Oliver and Rory McArdle were outstanding in the centre of defence, while full backs Stephen Darby and James Meredith disproved some pre-season fears they weren’t quite up to it by getting up and down the field well. The sight of them charging down the flanks – even when City were 1-0 up – was a big change from last season’s perception that Parkinson had banned his full backs from crossing the half way line.

Indeed it was heartening to conclude that – wherever you looked on the pitch today – there were no serious concerns about personnel. The first proper look at Garry Thompson suggests he offers everything as a wide right midfielder that Parkinson could not get out of Craig Fagan last season. Skillful on the ball, good awareness of team mates and strong physically. You can’t see Thompson beating defenders for pace very often, but he doubled up well as an extra midfielder when City didn’t have the ball.

Hanson and Alan Connell lead the line; the latter working extremely hard but getting few sniffs at goal. At this early stage Connell does not look likely to be a prolific goalscorer, but does add something to City’s forward line that Nahki Wells and Ross Hannah do not. A Gareth Evans v2.0, if you like.

City soaked up early home attacks to look increasingly assured as the half went on, with Hanson and Kyel Reid missing presentable chances. Matt Duke – the surprise choice as number one for this season, it would seem – made a couple of superb saves and County did hit the post. But a 10 minute spell of home pressure just before half time aside, it was a poor performance from the League One side. Certainly the second half saw City enjoy the greater territorial advantage, with good build up play on several occasions only being let down by a poor final ball. In particular Reid – watched from the away end by one of the greatest number 7s in the club’s history, Jamie Lawrence – had a mixed afternoon. Some powerful runs forward, but better delivery was needed.

County might have won it in the last minute, when Lee Hughes – predictably but deservedly booed by City fans throughout – ran clear and saw his cut back tipped by Duke into the path of Yoann Arquinn for an open goal. In Ronny Rosenthal fashion, he hit the bar from just yards out. It would have been a cruel and highly undeserved way to go out.

Because bit by bit, minute by minute, City seemed to get stronger and more positive. The substitutions made by Parkinson making a big difference to the offensive ambitions of the visitors. The introduction of Wells saw the County backline stretched further, though curiously the Bermudian did not have the best of games. Adam Baker came on for Thompson and played like an out-and-out winger. The youngster is raw for sure, with some runs not working out, but he showed flashes of what he can do and could easily force his way into first team contention.

Good build up play by Wells and Reid led to Hanson firing home the game’s only goal midway through the first period of extra time. It was a typically productive afternoon for last season’s top scorer, with the usual mixture of warm appreciation and clueless grumblings from the stand. As Hanson raced over to the packed away section in celebration, I took smug delight from recalling how only five minutes earlier some fans were screaming at Parkinson to take him off.

Reid should have made it two nil shortly after, screwing a shot over when it looked easier to score. He was later replaced by Nathan Doyle, who received a warm reception on his first outing in claret and amber since re-signing for the club. It was slightly tense in the closing stages with Hughes missing two good opportunities, but overall City were comfortable and good value for the win.

Some people suggested County were fielding a weakened team. Without any in-depth knowledge of their new signings and pre-season line ups, I have no idea if this is the case. But even if it was a below full strength home team, couldn’t the same be said of City?

Which is where much of the excitement is building from. City look solid, City look astute and City look effective – and yet City were without Andrew Davies, Ricky Ravenhill, Ritchie Jones and Doyle (not fully fit). Big, big players for the Bantams, yet without them the team still looks like an advanced prototype ready to be rolled out onto the battlefields on League Two. The team ethic stands out; this is an XI greater than the sum of its parts.

No one wants to get carried away with this result. But in time, hopefully we will look back on this day as one where Parkinson’s City revolution took one huge step in the right direction.

City: Duke, Darby, Oliver, McArdle, Meredith, Thompson (Baker 74), Gary Jones, Atkinson, Reid (Doyle 105), Hanson, Connell (Wells 61)

Subs not used: McLaughlin, Hannah, Brown, Bass

Categories: Match Reviews

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

13 replies

  1. Almost impossible to not get carried away by yesterday. Gary Jones was immense and it is clear even now that under his leadership not one of the lads will get an easy shift when they pull on the claret and amber. Both full backs really impressed me. Darby reminded me of Stephen Wright, always making the correct decision when he had the ball. Connells link up play was first class and I think in James Nahki and Allan we have 3 strikers who can cause all sorts of different problems for opposition defences. It was so important to get a good start to the season and yesterday sets us up nicely for the league opener next weekend.

    • I really cant explain my joy at the final whistle with not just the result but the manner of performance. Cant agree more with pauls comments over gary jones, he will drive this team. Something that I feel has been needed at cty.
      We went to a lge1 team that only just missed out on play offs by goal difference last season and really looked the better side. 6 debut players injuries

      • Thanks Jason for what I’m sure is the first of many honest and well written match reports for this season. I was greatly surprised when I read a text from a fellow supporting friend informing me that we had won 1-0. My fellow supporting friend saw Adam Baker play a few times last season and has high hopes for him so it was pleasing to hear that Baker got on a substitute yesterday. Also I’m pleasantly surprised with your assessment of Will Atkinson’s performance yesterday. Like Luke Oliver, I hope that Will Atkinson proves me wrong. Your most striking comment to me is about our strength in depth. Up front we have plenty of options in Hanson, Wells, Hannah and Connell. I really like Hannah and think that he can be a good player for us but my fear is that we have better forwards at the club and that Hannah will end up back at a non league club, all be it one that is in a higher division than Matlock Town. Now into my 24th year of supporting Bradford City I’m not going to get carried away with one win but let’s hope that we can gain some early season confidence from this League Cup win and get some points on the board in the league and be focusing on the top third of the table this season and not the bottom third like last season.


    • Hi Chris

      I’m sorry to hear that you had a bad experience at the game on Saturday. If i’d have been sat where you were and heard the stuff you have heard I would have been upset.

      I did not hear him called the things that you heard (I was sat at the back of the stand). I certainly did not join in with them and I am certainly not a “white t-shirted thug”. I’m a 30-year-old, married man looking to start a family soon. I think it’s a bit strong for you to accuse me of causing the abuse that you heard.

      I joined in with the booing sure. What Hughes did was wrong, and while I’m liberal-minded enough to believe everyone deserves another chance in life i’m not sure that, morally, he should be allowed to have a career in football. I would have a huge, huge issue if City were ever to sign him, and I would find it difficult to take my own (future) kids to watch someone like Hughes, when he would be viewed as some sort of hero (I noticed Notts County fans chanted his name). That’s just my opinion and I accept that you feel differently, but having a difference of opinion does not make me a thug nor does it mean I am spreading filth.

      I’m sorry if you feel the need to make a compliant to the police about me, but I don’t believe I have done anything wrong by offering the opinion he deserved to be booed. If you don’t like the term ‘abused’ I can accept that it’s a general term that couuld include a range of things (including the things you heard) and in future I should be more specific as I woulod certainly never condone the use of the language you heard.

      I completely understand why you want to take up further compliants with the two clubs over the people that you filmed acting like thugs, and saying horrible things with children. I hope that the two clubs take it seriously. But I hope you would also agree that, on reflection, it would be wrong to group together every City fan who booed Lee Hughes on Saturday as being a thug.


      • Fair play Jason. I feel your post above answers Chris’s concerns.

        The rest of the article was excellent. I always come here first before going to the T&A because at least from your article you can understand the game. Keep up the good work.

      • Living in the South West I only get to watch City when they are in the area. Last year I went to the Cheltenham and Hereford matches. Being a City supporter, I like to stand with the City supporters. However, I must say there is not much enjoyment doing this as the language used by many of the supporters is foul and abusive. Much as I would love to bring my grandsons up as City supporters, there is no way that I would bring them to any matches and expose them to such language. I’m not suggesting that City supporters are any worse than any other football supporters. What I am suggesting is that football supporters are significantly worse than, for instance, Rugby Union supporters. Gloucester rugby supporters are every bit as fanatical as City supporters, perhaps even more so. However, I would be very happy to take my grandchildren to one of their matches (home or away) safe in the knowledge that they are not going to be exposed to the sort of foul mouth tirades one regularly hears at football matches.
        I enjoy reading your articles as, I’m sure do many other City fans. It would be great if you could use your influence amongst City supporters to start a campaign to encourage only “family friendly” banter amongst City fans so that parents and granparents can bring the next generation of supporters to City matches, safe in the knowledge that they are not going to be exposed to the sort of language that I have been exposed to in the last few seasons.

    • Who made you milk monitor Mr Herbert…..!! Lee Hugh’s is an absolute disgrace and should never have been allowed back into Football. Would you have him sign for city…..? he deserves all he get’s week in and week out….. i also heard the comment regarding “Paedo” it wasn’t aimed at Lee Hughes, I’m sure if you check your Video and recorded the comment you’ll find it was aimed at Nott’s County “The Club” and went along the lines of “how low would they go, i wonder if they’d be happy if they signed a Peado next” I heard the comment clearly myself, and to be fair to the chap that said it, he has a very valid point…..!! as for your comment regarding the language you have heard….. Why didn’t you complain to the 8 or so police officers that where stood in the corner of the away section if you felt it out of order. To sit there and feel it necessary to record it then send it off to 2 police forces and both club’s chairmen when you could have had the issue sorted there and then say’s a lot about you IMO.

  3. Another brilliant article Jason, love it. I tend to check this page every day in the hope that you have some new material, it is a much better report and insight into the club than the T&A which I think speaks volumes.

    As for the above poster Chris, I think your comment is out of order, a group of thugs chanted obscenities (in my opinion some of it just deserved) and you decide to lash out at Jason, he can only condone what he heard and to be honest I agree 100% with him, football is about banter and boy does Lee Hughes deserve that. To threaten police action and getting this site shut down is stupendous, especially bearing in mind Jason was nowhere near the action, your over-reaction is just as farcical as the reaction that the young thugs gave to Lee Hughes on Saturday, I agree no man should have to take such abuse, and no fans should be giving it out especially with young children around.

    In my opinion you should be offering an apology to Jason, who has written a fair, well thought out article.

    Keep up the good work Jason, I look forward to your next article already.

  4. Lee Hughes has been convicted of causing death by dangerous driving, leaving the scene of an accident and assault.

    There is a family living today without a father because of, to use the Judge’s words, Hughes’s “callous disregard” for their safety. My view would be that they deserve our sympathy rather than Mr Hughes – I think their pain is somewhat larger than his.

    I wouldn’t condone any foul language which upsets others – but, frankly, I don’t care two hoots if this convicted criminal is upset…

  5. Absolutely ridiculous comments from Chris above. What has Jason done here to warrant a report to the police? And why do you think it’s relevant how long you have supported Bradford City? I might report you to the police for wasting my time reading your comment, that is about as illegal as any of the “filth” in this article. Aren’t there enough apps on your iphone to keep you entertained enough not to come on perfectly reasonable websites and start flabbergastingly stupid agruments? Deary me.

    That being said, what a brilliant performance from City. Gary Jones was absolutely superb and I was pleasantly surprised by Will Atkinson too. The right flank would be my only slight concern, i wasn’t blown away by Darby or Thompson but having not been to any pre season games I’m not going to jump to too many conclusions off the back of one match. Very encouraging signs though, hopefully this will give us a lot of confidence for Gillingham.

  6. By David Lawrence

    Personally I found the baiting of Hughes over his driving/manslaughter conviction a bit too ‘close to the knuckle’ as I certainly would have had I heard any of the other remarks alluded to by your critic (Chris?). This was especially disappointing in light of the entente cordial at the Olympics. I guess I naively hoped that sportsmanship and goodwill would spread to football and it could drag itself out of the dark ages in regard to sectarian and bigoted support. In my opinion football authorities and fans alike need to decide whether we are to accept language and behaviour that means the sport is inaccessible to families who aren’t prepared to turn a deaf ear to the often bigoted foul language.

    I hope progress can be made in this area so that we feel the same way about the present situation on the terraces as we now do about calling a neighbour a darkie as we did in the seventies, i.e. a thing of the past.

    Perhaps we could start by concentrating on or own team, which happily was the case for much of the excellent game on Saturday.

    I also think a distinction ought to be made about the difference between formal media sites such as the T&A and fanzine sites such as WoTP. The former reports on facts and uses editorials to give an opinion. Meanwhile, the latter offers a Fan’s perspective on events, i.e. their opinion. Both do differing jobs.So it’s pointless getting frustrated that Simon Parker appears not to criticise the club/player. It’s also, in my opinion, rather reactionary to take action against someone for giving their view of a match/player. Of course if someone feels that the material is inciting then the person has a right to task other authorities. However, I feel the first port of call should be with the miscreant. If it is the language at the match then there were plenty of stewards on hand. If it were the reporting of the baiting then an approach to the author would be appropriate.

    I really don’t see the point in shooting the messenger, when a mature debate could be had about the future makeup of the football supporter. They’re not all bad.


    Firstly, to explain, there has been a delay in updating reader comments and explaining to readers what has been happening with Chris due to the fact I have been away at a wedding and had limited internet access (just mobile phone).

    Chris’ message sparked a reaction from other readers, and I have now published these comments but, to note, they have been cut slightly as I don’t want Width of a Post to ever become a place where people being nasty to each other is encouraged (ie any personal attacks on Chris have been deleted, but nothing else has been changed). There are plenty of other web outlets for that type of City-related fun 😉

    To give you the full story. In addition to Chris’ original comment stating he was considering reporting this site to the police, he sent me an email threatening legal action unless I retracted the article. As I do not believe that my comments were in anyway criminal or libellous I was not prepared to that.

    Myself and Chris had a frank talk on the phone for about 20 minutes, where we exchanged views and came to a fair agreement. I re-iterated to Chris that, from my point of view at the game on Saturday (two rows from the back of the stand), I heard Lee Hughes be booed and chants of “murderer” which I felt were deserved, hence in the match report I wrote “Lee Hughes – predictably, and deservedly, abused…” However, Chris at the front of the stand had a very different experience of the abuse Hughes received; which crossed the line considering it forced nearby parents to have to move their children. The language and behaviour used by these “fans” was, according to Chris, unacceptable. Chris filmed much of this, and is taking it up with both clubs to see if action can be taken against the people who took part in it.

    Chris interpreted my original comment about Hughes in the report as meaning I approved of this behaviour. I made it clear I never heard the things he did and – if I had – certainly wouldn’t have supported it. He accepts this now, but was concerned that the people who did carry out this behaviour would read Width of a Post and assume that I was stating what they were doing was fair and appropriate. As a compromise, I have agreed to change one word in the report from “abused” to “booed”. He has agreed not to follow up his threats of legal action or a police compliant against the site. It’s also worth noting that Chris dislikes Hughes and agrees he should not be in football (ie the principle behind the booing).

    Although Chris has taken some stick in the comments above, I think that his intentions are very good and I support what he is trying to do 100%. I have, over the years, seen a minority of City fans behave in similar ways to how Chris described and it sickened me. The idea that families had to move and that young children were subjected to the sight of grown men screaming the ‘c’ word at a person is plain wrong (and I’m not in any way defending Lee Hughes, who I have no time for whatsoever. In fact if City ever signed him I would probably find a different club to support).

    I hope that Chris is successful in his complaints and that both Notts County and Bradford City take it seriously. Myself and Chris have ended up on good terms and are even talking about meeting for a pint. Although I think he was wrong to initially group me into his complaints, I am very happy that it has been resolved to the satisfaction of us both. And when you look at what Chris is upset about and what he has made complaints about, I’m sure every sensible City fan will also back Chris 100%.

    Jason McKeown

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