By Jason McKeown
In addition to voting for Player of the Season, Width of a Post writers were asked to rank their favourite matches of the 2012/13 season.
In fifth place…City 1 Arsenal 1 (City won 3-2 on penalties)
League Cup quarter final, Tuesday 11 December 2012
In any other season, this evening would have stood head and shoulders above everything else as the highlight. Yet this would prove to be just the beginning. Sky commentator Bill Leslie stated after the final whistle, “Cue the celebrations, the like of which they have not seen for many a year”, which was true. But such celebrations would be repeated numerous times over the subsequent months.
An Arsenal side packed full of big names, a sold out Valley Parade, a cup quarter final – this was special. We all expected to lose, but then Garry Thompson smashed City in front to spark delirium. We almost held out until the final whistle, but a late Thomas Vermaelen header forced the game into extra time. Despite strong Gunners pressure, the Bantams hung on and triumphed in a nervy shootout.
The media said:
“Bradford boss Phil Parkinson, who used to scout for Arsenal, assembled his team for just £7,000 while Wenger’s team cost more than £70m. But you cannot buy heart and fairytales like this. It was an upset that will live long in Bradford folklore even if Wenger will be desperate to forget.” John Cross, Daily Mirror
“When Garry Thompson fired the Bantams into a 16th minute lead against the Gunners this evening, a packed out Valley Parade erupted. There were wild celebrations everywhere you looked, the sheer volume of which must have been heard for miles around Bradford.”
In fourth place…Burton Albion 1 City 3
League Two play off semi final second leg, Sunday 5 May 2013
It looked as though City had blown it in the first leg, but a steely determination and resilience to recover – not just the 3-2 deficit, but a poor start at the Perelli – saw the visitors book a second trip to Wembley.
Nahki Wells changed the tie when he latched onto a poor back header to score. James Hanson brilliantly half volleyed the second just after half time. A successfully converted Burton penalty added to the tension, but within a minute Wells had struck again to seal it.
The sold out away end – some fans queued overnight for a ticket – was in fine voice throughout. The feeling of triumph at full time was shared by players and supporters, in scenes that continued a good half hour after the final whistle. Back to Wembley, typically achieved the hard way.
The media said:
“Brewers manager Gary Rowett’s plan to shackle Hanson was identical to the first leg with Zander Diamond being deployed in front of the back four and instructed to double up on the City striker at every opportunity…As can happen in football, however, focusing so much on one individual threat can leave a team vulnerable to another and so it proved on 26 minutes when a long punt forward by Jon McLaughlin led to the opening goal.” Richard Sutcliffe, Yorkshire Post
“It is for days like this that we put in all their effort, spend all that money, and sing all those songs following the club up and down the country.”
In third place…City 3 Aston Villa 1
League Cup semi final first leg, Tuesday 8 January 2013
No one expected to defeat Premier League Aston Villa over two games, and seemingly the priority for the first leg was to ensure we could travel to Villa Park without the tie being over.
We achieved so much more, placing one foot in the final and sudden belief we could actually do it. Villa started well, but Wells beat the offside trap to give City the lead on 19 minutes. Matt Duke made a series of fine saves, and then with 13 minutes to go Rory McArdle headed home Gary Jones’ cross to spark delirium. Villa pulled one back – which looked crucial – but then Carl McHugh met Jones’ corner with a bullet header to restore the two-goal lead.
To beat a Premier League side over 90 minutes – and deservedly so too – was truly memorable. One of the best evenings Valley Parade has ever hosted.
The media said:
“Gary Jones has led by example in the middle of the park and goalkeeper Matt Duke has been magnificent. They have all been terrific to beat a Premier League side. It was an unbelievable tie – one of the best I have ever seen.” Robbie Savage, BBC
“The celebrations are manic everywhere you look. I’m hugging the wife. I’m hugging my friends. I’m hugging strangers. It is absolute bedlam. Unconfined joy. I was at Wolves in ’99, and here for Liverpool in ’00, but it feels like this moment – this goal – tops the lot of them as the best moment I’ve ever experienced supporting City. It is the realisation – for the first time – that we CAN actually do this. That League Two Bradford City defeating Villa over two legs, and taking our place in the League Cup final at Wembley, CAN happen. It is the point where you dare to believe.”
In second place…Aston Villa 2 City 1
League Cup semi final second leg, Tuesday 22 January 2013
It was snowy in Birmingham. It was unbelievably nerve wracking too. 90 minutes away from a major cup final, but a difficult dilemma over whether to attack or simply defend. 6,000 of us filled the two away sections and loudly made our presence felt; but when the teams came out to a deafening roar and 36,000 Villa fans were waving flags, the scale of the task was abundant.
A difficult first 45 saw City barely get out of their own half but, crucially, only concede once. Then came the moment, 10 minutes into the second half: Hanson glanced home Jones’ corner for 1-1. Pandemonium in the away end.
We held on remarkably comfortably for the last half hour and might even have won it. A late Villa goal sparked huge tension, but finally Phil Dowd brought the game to an end and we were in dreamland – Villa 3 City 4 on aggregate. To reach a major cup final far beyond our wildest dreams. No one minded – or in fact even noticed – that it was so bitterly cold.
The media said:
“Many will delight in Bradford’s performance and success, confirmation that the dream factory of football is occasionally open for business. The underdog can have his day.” Henry Winter, Daily Telegraph
“This wasn’t the greatest feeling I could possibly ever experience following a football club – it was better than that. This wasn’t just about winning a two-legged game of football, it was realising that the boundaries City have just smashed prove that the limitations we think exist within our own lives can be smashed as well.”
And the Width of a Post 2012/13 Match of the Season is…City 3 Northampton 0
League Two play off final, Saturday 18 May 2013
It’s often said that the play off route is the best way to get promoted and we certainly discovered that to be true. After the drama against Burton in the semis, the final against Northampton a surprisingly straightforward affair. City were outstanding, and over-powered the Cobblers with a three-goal burst inside half an hour. Hanson, McArdle and Wells – we could have scored more.
Each goal was greeted by manic celebrations in the City end, and as the game petered out the atmosphere was electric as we closed in on promotion. The lifting of the trophy by Ricky Ravenhill and Gary Jones topped off an amazing afternoon.
The greatest moment of the greatest of seasons.
The media said:
“Both these clubs came perilously close to relegation last season but as they watched their Bradford counterparts rejoicing, Northampton supporters in a crowd of nearly 48,000 must have found it hard to take consolation. Last time Bradford fans were here they left acclaiming their team’s guts. This time they got the glory, too.” Paul Doyle, The Observer
“In their 64th and final game, City reached a level of performance they only ever hinted at amongst the first 63. I can’t remember a Bradford City team look that assured, that dominant. To a man, they were flawless.
“Picking up where they left off against Burton, City rendered Northampton helpless. Bradford looked like a team that could have beaten Aidy Boothroyd’s men in any number of ways; Northampton’s cupboard was bare from the beginning.”
The Width of a Post 2012/13 Match of the Season was voted for by: Mark Danylczuk, Mark Scully, Jason McKeown, Gareth Walker, Alex Scott, Damien Wilkinson, David Lawrence, Rob Craven, Mahesh Johal, Tim Roche and Ian Sheard.