By Phil Abbott
As the dust settles on the unforgettable 2012/13 season, plans for the new 2013/14 League One campaign are already afoot for Bradford City as contracts are beginning to be tied up, the ‘release list’ is in preparation and transfer targets are being discussed.
For the fans of Bradford City, even before we dared to pre-empt the outcome of the play off final against Northampton, rhetoric regarding the possible visitors to Valley Parade next season were being discussed. There was excitement at some of the more local fixtures that will now become a reality, such as visits to Bramall Lane and the New York Stadium, alongside big fixtures at Molineux and the Ricoh Arena.
On a personal level, I have put in more miles this season than ever before. I’ve been totally captivated by the efforts of our amazing history-making club and, this year, have attended not far off the sum total of the previous two season’s games put together, both home and away. Nothing too remarkable about that, you might say? Well, I guess not; but being a semi-exiled Bantam in North Nottinghamshire, putting City first every week isn’t quite as easy as it might be for local supporters.
Having clocked up over 6,000 miles in the car this season, following Bradford City at 42 games, I am sure I’m well down the mileage totals of some of the more ardent, affluent City followers, who have beaten a Claret and Amber track along many of the country’s far flung highways. Even with a 60-mile head start on native Bantams fanatics, Torquay and Plymouth were a step too far for me!
What makes it difficult for me personally, in some respects, is that for the average travelling fan, supporting City means you are on the road every other week. For me, the round trip of 130 miles and 90 minutes each way for home games makes some of the further away games less accessible in the family-orientated Abbott household.
But, there is good news for us all! For me, assuming I attend every league match next season and no cup games whatsoever, I would run in a total of 8,098 miles, which is a significant decrease on last year’s total had I have been to each and every game. But I’m in the minority in Nottinghamshire as a City fan, so Bradfordians will be pleased to note that their travels are also to be significantly reduced as a result of promotion to League One.
A round trip to every home and away game covered in 2013/14 will total 6,130 miles from a Bradford base. Had we have been in League Two at the expense of Northampton Town, the total travelling distance would have been 6,998 miles.
Mindful of a large geographic spread of exiled City fans, Nottingham-based Bantams could travel up to 5,200 miles to attend away games this coming season, whilst Manchester-based fans will need to cover 5,754 miles for the same matches. It’s only when you add in the travel to home games for exiled fans that the figures really begin to stack up! Poor old London Bantams would need to put in 10,024 miles to see every league game next year!
Whatever your means, whatever your commitment, City fans should be welcomed at every opportunity. The term ‘plastic supporter’ is one that really gets on my wick. We all know what we can manage, we all know what our priorities are, it’s just some fans find the pull of Bradford City too much to turn down on any one day; whilst others have work or family responsibilities, and some quite simply are in need of a day of rest.
And for those who will live the dream at every game next season, how will you spend your 15% saving on travel?