By Jason McKeown
Bradford City’s transfer deadline day activity has concluded with the not-all-together-surprising-but-still-very-sad-news that Ritchie Jones has departed the club after his contract was paid up.
The 26-year-old midfielder was signed by Peter Jackson/Archie Christie in the summer of 2011 after attempts to sign Tommy Miller and Gary Jones failed to come to fruition. He proved to be an important player last season, with his central midfield partnership with Ricky Ravenhill helping to ensure City retained their Football League status. But both have found their route to the first team blocked this season, due to the outstanding form of summer arrivals Nathan Doyle and Gary Jones. Ritchie’s chances were not helped by an injury in pre-season which kept him out until October.
Having looked as though he might be back in the first team around the turn of the year, a run of City league results didn’t aid Ritchie’s hopes of retaining his place. He made a mistake for the opening goal in the defeat to Barnet, which meant he was dropped for the Villa home leg. The next – and last – time that Ritchie started was the 4-1 JPT cup defeat to Crewe.
As a big fan of Jones, his performance that night was distressing to say the least. The level of determination which always characterised his displays was lacking. There was no passion or fight. It was like Ritchie had given up on his City career. On the evidence of his poor body language that night, a January departure looked inevitable. So it is.
He will have no problem finding a new club in League Two because he has a lot of talent. Ritchie’s contribution to Bradford City will probably not be remembered for long, but he played a telling contribution during some of our darkest times and deserves our appreciation for that.