Review of 2012 – part one


By Jason McKeown

There is a clear narrative to follow when it comes to reviewing the year of 2012 for Bradford City. It starts off by looking back at one of the low points from the second half of last season – Crawley, with the punch up, loss of three key players and genuine threat that we would be relegated, the most obvious example – and then reflects on how far we have come over the months that have followed.

From staring into the abyss and the potential end of Bradford City, to strong hopes of promotion and a place in the League Cup semi finals – the club has finally enjoyed a calendar year of stunning progress.

A great story. One for which Phil Parkinson and his players deserve huge applause. Yet it is a story that you know as well as I do, and you’ll probably find it told by local media over the next few days. So instead, I want to review the year from a personal experience of living through such interesting times. And how I have progressed myself.

In the glorious book Fever Pitch, by Nick Hornby, there is a theory explored that your team’s fortunes reflect your own. They can become intertwined, and like the chicken and the egg debate it becomes hard to truly tell which comes first. Am I happy/sad because Bradford City are doing well/rubbish? Or was I happy/sad in the first place, and City have provided an appropriate backdrop so I can further indulge my mood?

I don’t know the answer. But what I do know is that my personal happiness has mirrored the Bantams’ improved fortunes over 2012. Life either feels great because Bradford City are great, or life feels great and Bradford City are great.

Width of a Post reflects that resurgence. We are days away from our first birthday (the site going live on 29 December 2011) and it feels like a successful first 12 months. As I write this we have just past 300,000 visits since we launched, which I’m proud of. We had a slow start, but seem to have built a strong following. Hits are especially up when City have had a good result. Fortunately this has happened on a regular basis during the past few months.

Not that hits matter so much. Width of a Post was set up with the premise that, even if no one wants to read the site, at least we are entertaining ourselves. But I do think we provide a service of sorts, and thanks to the sizeable team of writers we have built, we have been able to cover anything and pretty much everything.

With the site only just live and not quite fully up and running, I was unable to find anyone to cover City’s first game of 2012, a 3-0 loss to Rotherham. But since that day, I’m very proud of the fact we’ve published a match report of every City game. This even includes all the pre-season friendlies (meaning we’ve done a total of 65 match reports over the past 12 months, with two to go). In-between offering in-depth opinions on players, management and the club’s finances, along the way we’ve interviewed the likes of David Baldwin, Nathan Doyle and Guy Branston, plus celebrated former players Jamie Lawrence and Mark Bower.

All of which I talk about not to boast or to pat myself on the back, but to provide reasons for my improved outlook over 2012. I love writing. I love writing about Bradford City. And I love providing a website of writings about Bradford City matters that people like to read.

So a big thanks to my writing team, who have given up their own time on a regular basis, for no financial reward, and have produced some cracking content. And thank you, valued reader, for your support. We aim to cover every game of this momentous, 60+ game season. So far, so good on that front.

Beyond that, 2012 feels like a special year for me because of the City community. I’ve traditionally been the type of supporter who keeps himself to himself – and was very happy to do so. I go to games with my good friend Steve and my wife Rachel, and there were a handful of other City-supporting friends I might meet for a pint or have a 5 minute chat with if I bumped into them.

But that’s all changed this year. Thanks largely to the formation of the Skipton Bantams, I have become more engaged with the City community than I ever have before. The Easter Monday 1-0 loss to Shrewsbury would probably be long forgotten now were it not for Branston giving home fans the V sign, but it was a special day out because the Skipton Bantams ran a coach trip to the game that, for me, resulted in the beginnings of some new and valued friendships with a number of people.

That has grown and blossomed to regular meet ups, going to away games together and half time catch ups in the Kop concourse. And the other week some of us watched the League Cup semi final draw together. And we’re looking to buy Villa away tickets as a group.

If it all sounds a bit “so what?”, here’s the point I’m building towards: the power of feeling within that community seems to give football supporting another edge. If a year ago the closure of BfB offered me the opportunity to walk away from this community that I always felt more on the periphery of, without anyone knowing or caring, I now feel more central and a part of things than I have ever been. And I’m going to more City games than ever, not just because of the football but to be part of something.

It feels like a really special time to be a Bradford City supporter. And I’m grateful this special time has been enhanced by the new friendships I have made.

That’s off the field, and on it things have been incredibly memorable. I don’t fully buy the back story spin that everything was dreadful under Peter Jackson and Parkinson rescued the club last season. For me, there was a familiar sense of underachievement last year under Parkinson, and it’s worth remembering he was under some pressure to keep his job and Mark Lawn did not exactly provide his employee with a ringing endorsement at the time.

Nevertheless, the passage of time enables us to look back on 2011/12 as a season where relegation was avoided and Parkinson began to change the culture of the club. A huge turnover of players that have left him beginning this season with a squad packed full of strong ability, but also tremendous character. It’s obvious that Parkinson places just as much emphasis on the latter area and he has sought to build the right team spirit. No Paul McLarens, no Tommy Dohertys.

The results have been spectacular, when judged against our pre-season expectations. And yet you feel there is still more to come. That we have not yet peaked. That the upwards curve will continue.

So in 2012 we have come a long way. And for this supporter, it is difficult to imagine how things could have gone any better. There are no guarantees that success, in the shape of promotion, will occur in 2013. But my goodness, we have given ourselves a great chance.

And in the meantime, the journey is proving to be something special. Don’t stop anytime soon driver, because no one wants to get off.

Part two of our review of 2012 will appear after the Morecambe game in early January. On behalf of everyone at Width of a Post, Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones.

Categories: Opinion

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3 replies

  1. You’ve already surpassed the Queen’s speech Jason, with this state of the (Bantam) nation!

    The feelgood factor is definitely back. I think it has been itching to return for some time, and it is great to get some positivity around the place again.

    Will be interesting to see how the team (and fans) deal with any dip in form over the second half – this could be critical in how things pan out, I believe, and we shouldn’t underestimate this at all.

    Having said that let’s hope for a great festive period!

    Well done on the continued growth and development of WoAP – it’s always a great read and reflects all the hard work you have put into it, which is much appreciated by all.

    City – never a dull moment!!!

  2. Many thanks Jason to you & all the contributors, your collective efforts are very much appreciated. The website provides all us city fans with informative, balanced and thought provoking articles with every visit. I particulary enjoy the interviews and match reports.
    Long may this feel good factor continue within the club…as long suffering fans I believe we deserve it!!!

    Have a great Christmas & New Year folks…lets hope 2013 is just as good as this year has been so far.


  3. Have a great Christmas Jason and congratulations on your website, it has been a tremendous success. Here’s to a great 2013 with Wembley, promotion and congratulations for when you become a Father.

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