He managed Bradford City #8: David Menzies

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By Ian Hemmens

David Menzies had possibly the hardest job of any Bradford City manager. How do you follow a legend and possibly the greatest manager the club has ever had?

David Menzies was born in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, to a family steeped in football tradition. Indeed, his father was at one-time the Chairman of the local team, Raith Rovers. David became a player at Raith with moderate success, before work commitments in the textile trade brought him to the West Riding.

At that time though the nearest professional clubs were in Sheffield or Burnley. The West Riding was still a Rugby stronghold, although there was a growing amateur scene in football. David joined the all conquering Girlington club along with namesake Duncan Menzies plus fellow future City reserves Everitt Moore and Maurice Healey.

He also represented Bradford in matches against other local town teams, as football tried to grow and flourish in the area.

The Football League was eager to gain a foothold in the Rugby stronghold and the formation of Bradford City from the failing Manningham Rugby club gave them the opportunity to do so. City were elected to the league without playing a single game.

Trial matches were played to find a team, but few of the locals were of sufficient standard, although several of the Girlington team were retained as reserve players. David Menzies was amongst them, although now reaching the veteran stage playing wise. He took a job at the club as a steward and assisted with the training of the players. This he did as well as other various roles until, in 1914, he was offered the job as Trainer at Hull City. He did this until 1916 when he was offered the Manager’s role to see the Tigers through the calamity of World War One and the aftermath, where he led them to two comfortable mid table finishes.

In 1921, he returned to Valley Parade to replace the departing Peter O’Rourke, who decided to leave the club. To be fair to Menzies, he was left with an ageing squad and no money to sign new quality players. The likes of Bond, Boocock, Fox, Potts, Hibbert, Storer, Handley, Hargeaves and McIlvenny were all the wrong side of 30. City found themselves relegated in Menzies’ first season, following an end of season collapse which saw them lose their last five games after thinking they would be safe.

The club were never to return to the top flight until Paul Jewell’s managership in the late 1990s.

Menzies carried on under strict financial restraints until 1926, despite having to sell young talents like Arthur Rigby who played for England after leaving City. He then became manager of Doncaster Rovers and lead them to the Division 3 North title in 1934-35. The following season, he retired only to return to Hull City as Manager, but sadly he died in office during 1936.

David Menzies will be remembered at Bradford City as a loyal clubman with well over 10 years faithful service in most capacities, but his tenure as manager was really an almost impossible task to follow the great Peter O’Rourke.

The time he was in charge saw City struggling to survive as a club financially and on the field after being dealt several severe blows by the carnage of World War One. He worked manfully to try and stabilise the club, but sadly wasn’t able to do so.

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