By Mahesh Johal
As I left Villa Park last Tuesday I was amazed to see several vendors selling ‘Bradford City – Wembley 2013’ tee shirts and scarfs. Twenty minutes had passed since beating Aston Villa, and already these men were selling merchandise. In the hysteria of reaching our first League Cup Final, many fans were happy to start buying their Wembley stash.
The financial gains from this cup run have been well documented. It is important that the club maximise every avenue, including merchandising opportunities. Like Geoffrey Richmond in 1996, the current board have the chance to wash Wembley Stadium in claret and amber.
On Saturday, the club announced the idea of a commemorative shirt. The club proposed wearing a plain claret number (similar to the Surridge shirt worn in 2009/10) especially for the Final. In a poll, 67% were against the club introducing the shirt at Wembley. Comments on Facebook and Twitter suggest the lack of both claret and amber, in a stripe or hoop form, as the main reason for discontent. The club said that the hooped shirt is a bespoke design and no more replicas could be made in time for the final.
Like the majority, I am against the commemorative shirt. I like the concept and the design, however it is important that City grace the Wembley turf in our claret and amber strip. Our colours symbolise our club. Also our hoops are not just the symbol of Bradford City anymore. This season claret and amber has been the symbol of inspiration and ‘daring to believe’.
The club deserves credit for giving fans the deciding vote on whether the shirt should be produced. However, one Tweeter criticised management for changing ‘for the sake of selling shirts’. I appreciate his point, but the club should not be condemned for looking to maximise income. As mentioned before, this cup run has the potential to solidify the club’s long term future. From the feedback I saw, fans appear to want Wembley specific merchandise. However, the design element has been disappointing.
The club have released a variety of casual and leisure wear for the Final. I am personally not a fan of the products. Some of our training tops look dated, whilst one looks suspiciously similar to the black and grey tracksuit warn at Wolves in 1999. The Wembley graphic tee shirts aren’t that nice either. I was hoping for something classier, a similar design to the ‘Remember-25 year anniversary’ tee shirt.
I go back to the street vendors and the items they sell. Scarves and flags will be the favourite for fans. I lost count of the number of fans wearing half and half or long claret and amber scarves during this cup run. A Manchester Bantam, I don’t get much chance to watch Yorkshire regional news. Fortunately my father recorded the live edition of Look North. The one resonating theme that came out of the show was peoples’ pride for Bradford City. Our club colours are a symbol of this pride!
I will go to Wembley this year wearing the Beaver/Diamond Seal combination that was sported when we last played at the stadium. That day, the team wearing claret and amber were victorious. 17 years on, who dares to dream with me that we can do it again?
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