By Mahesh Johal
If there is lasting feeling from Tuesday night’s defeat to Huddersfield, it won’t be that of dejection or resentment after losing to our nearest rival. Instead, many will remember it for the excitement that surged through the Chadwick Lawrence Stand after Nakhi Wells’ late goal and the crescendo of noise that followed. There was a genuine feel good atmosphere amongst the away following, and this was evident by the scenes at full time. With flags and scarves waving, all four thousand supporters stood to appreciate their team. In response, the players came to thank the fans and appeared a little startled by the positive outpouring they received.
This positivity has of course grown over the last year, and the announcement of sales of over 13,000 season tickets is a true reflection of the interest amongst City fans. To put it into context how impressive the number is, using last season’s average home attendances (as a basic gauge), with this year’s season ticket sales alone, City will have the fourth biggest average gates behind Wolves, Sheffield United and, narrowly, Bristol City.
More importantly, there will be new fans coming to Valley Parade. I know several people who have bought season tickets and taken up the offer of reduced child tickets. We talk about the ‘quid a kid generation’ during Geoffrey Richmond’s spell in charge. With the imaginative sales approach taken by the two chairmen, we could well be seeing the creation of a new generation of Bradford City fans both young and old.
The news of post-Premiership era record breaking ticket sales will be music to the ears of Phil Parkinson. He recently talked about the important role us fans have to play in this season and in particular spoke about the need to create an atmosphere that was intimidating for opponents. If Tuesday night’s noise is anything to go by, City will be adhering to their manager’s request.
Of course, some will say that fans at Huddersfield were living off this feel good wave, but I think those present at the John Smith Stadium realised the effort put in by the team. The only difference between last season’s League Cup run and this year is that we were able to convert performances into wins last time.
The real test for our fans will be when results don’t go our way. How will the fans react then? I guess it comes down to what you think is acceptable. What do you see the as the club’s aims for this season? I for one would like consolidation; however, I do that believe, if a few results go our way, we could make a run. Others anticipate promotion and may expect the drama of last season. There is no correct or wrong answer, but I think the way the team turned around last February’s lull is a strong indication that, if we stick together, things will eventually turn into our favour.
Today’s game at Valley Parade will be the first time a large majority of fans will be watching City play since Wembley. Looking back at last season, I personally felt that the City faithful finally found their voice to fill our stadium. Whether it be the continuous beat of ‘Take me home’ or (my favourite) ‘Apache’, there was collective voice that carried its way around the stadium. Games that best exemplify this were Northampton, Rotherham and Burton. You also have to remember the buzz generated in cup games. Considering the results achieved, it’s clear that these players thrive in bumper atmospheres and it’s imperative that we fans try and replicate this.
I will finish with a sentiment from Nathan Doyle. Upon re-signing with the Bantams, he talked about the club’s fans and how they were twelfth man last season. More specifically he talked about the fans being “the ones that make you want to wear a Bradford City shirt and put in 110 per cent every game”. The pride in Bradford City is back both on and off the field. This is a vital season in the progression of this football club, and I for one cannot wait to see it unfold…