By Mike Harrison (editor of the City Gent)
The saying goes ‘all good things must come to an end’ and it is certainly very true as nothing lasts forever. In the context of following Bradford City as a fan, even the opposite is true as we are currently witnessing. All bad things come to an end as well. My slight niggle at the moment is, and maybe this marks me out as a glass half empty person rather than half full, but I do wonder just how long the good spell can last?
I have total faith in our manager Phil Parkinson along with his team of assistants. Anyone who has read my editorials in The City Gent knows that I have backed the manager from day one. I appreciate I have been in a bit of a privileged position compared to most fans as I managed to get to see Phil Parkinson do his post-match radio summaries and also get to have brief chats with him during my spell as a summariser for BBC Radio Leeds. But since arriving at Valley Parade just over two years ago and inheriting a disparate squad of players that had little or no team spirit, what he has achieved is nothing short of miraculous.
The team Parkinson has assembled with the backing of the City board bear more than a passing resemblance to those squads that gained promotion back in 1984/85 and 1998/99. In both those seasons, plus I would also add the nearly season of 1987/88, every game was eagerly anticipated in the confident knowledge that City would probably be stronger and better than the opponents, but if they weren’t and the game was drawn or lost, it would not have been for the want of trying.
The never-give-in attitude of the current squad is something City fans are rightly proud about and their team spirit both on and off the field of play is something that supporters can rely on. We’ve always supported our team with blind faith, often overlooking the players’ deficiencies because those wearing a claret and amber striped shirt were playing for our club, Bradford City. Down the dozen or so years since falling out of the Premiership we’ve always had a smattering of good players, but more often than not, not enough to fill a whole team.
But at the moment I defy anyone to be able to pick fault with any one of the players wearing a amber shirt with just the one claret stripe at the moment. Though in reality I guess there will be someone, somewhere who doesn’t like so and so because of something or other, but hopefully you get my point. For Bradford City fans, this is a time to make the most of what we are being treated to as something truly special happened last season and potentially something extraordinary is happening this season.
Just two short weeks ago the majority of the crowd at Valley Parade collectively gasped in unison as we saw Nahki Wells gamely trying to get to his feet and carry on. But it was impossible for him and being a goal down it looked like the Shrewsbury home game was where the fine start to the season was about to end. But as we saw, the team are not reliant on just one player and thanks to a rare home goal from the superb Kyel Reid and that last gasp late winner from equally industrious James Hanson the game was won in the nick of time.
And again at Walsall last week, without Wells the players showed they’re not just a one man team, though where we would be without Kyel Reid at the moment? Since regaining his place in the starting XI at Stevenage, he is showing a level of consistency not seen in the past two years at the club. And rightfully so, his terrific 30-yard shot that flew into the top corner of the Walsall net is looking likely to be voted as the best goal of the week for last week.
So, having said all this, why am I feeling just a little bit uneasy about the visit from Tranmere on Sunday? On the face of it, the visit of the bottom club in the league playing a team high on confidence and sitting proudly in fourth place should be an easy three pointer. But the long suffering City fan within me remembers far too well similar occasions when the exact opposite that we had expected happened.
Playing a league game on a Sunday afternoon for the first time in ages will seem strange and the usual routine of the weekend will be disturbed. City are also up against one of our pantomime villains in Ronnie Moore. What is it about current or former Rotherham United managers? Both he and his Tranmere side will be desperate to upset the odds at Valley Parade. It will almost be like a cup tie for them with nothing to lose and everything to gain.
However, the one thing that is making me doubt my old self for thinking that this will be the game the good start to the season ends, because I believe totally in the way that Phil Parkinson will not allow the team to have an off day on Sunday. His meticulous preparation of the squad will I’m sure give the Bantams every chance of extending the unbeaten run at home to six games.
Yes, Tranmere could get lucky goal from a deflection or a dubious penalty and maybe the referee could have a stinker. But however the game plays out, we go to Valley Parade on Sunday afternoon knowing that the team will give everything possible to try and win the game. That much we can expect and for that we should be grateful. I certainly am.
Copies of the latest issue of The City Gent will be on sale at Valley Parade on Sunday at the Tranmere game. CG188 contains exclusive interviews by Derm Tanner with Phil Parkinson, Mark Yeates and Wayne Jacobs plus lots of other Bradford City related articles written by City fans for City fans. CG188 costs £2 or can be ordered via the City Gent web site www.thecitygent.co.uk