By Richard Cowman
It was an interesting outsider’s view in many ways. Since falling in love with Bradford City again last season, the recent home game with Swindon was my first visit to Valley Parade since that memorable first leg encounter against Aston Villa. For the first time in years – and on a trip home for the festive period – I had made an excuse to family and slid off to watch City leaving festivities behind.
I had seen the Ireland pre-season games in Athlone and at Bohemians. The new addition of Mark Yeates looked to be a good one, with his touch and vision appearing to be what we would need at the higher level. The rest felt like a comfy duvet on a hangover Sunday.
So watching from overseas – online and via social media – it has been an interesting journey. The positivity of the start to the season; and then the turn to blame and anger from some, as we flounder in our current malaise.
How fickle we can be. How fickle the football supporter can be. Wenger out in week one, were the calls; Moyes is out of his depth; crisis at Chelsea, as they lay in the top final only a goalscorer away from going top.
So it has been at City.
Watching the We Made History DVD, it became apparent how lucky we were to get out of the bottom league. How depressed must an Exeter fan be watching us sit in the appalling position of 11th in the league to end up finishing above them, after they crashed out of the play offs without a whimper. Let’s not even go to where a Cobbler’s head must be right now.
I know when you pay money week in week out it means more to be entertained and to see a winning team. However, it upset me last week to listen to two fellas in their late forties mock everything Gary Jones did, or hear Garry Thompson and Kyel Reid lambasted for poor delivery.
We are where we are on the back of an unreal push to promotion. We have the same small squad, and reading the recent Yorkshire Post article on Huddersfield Town, it appears to be a blueprint on how teams need to be run.
We were never great we were a sum of the parts. We were a testament to belief and workmanlike industry.
That same industry ground out a result against a Swindon team that for me oozed class – not just Pritchard – they were Swansea like in some of their passing and movement. To boo our players off just puzzles me.
We have in life a choice to choose our response to any situation. This team I hope will see us as supporters choose to back them for what they are, and not resort to the fickle nature of other teams and media.
For now, I think it is clear what we will get from this team. We aren’t going to tikka takka the ball around, but we will fight and be effective. A mirror image of the people that watch them, perhaps: blunt and to the point.
I have faith that Phil Parkinson knows his team will need to morph into something new to progress. Yeates might be too early at this stage for the team, but for me if he starts doing things simply perhaps he can be the creative fulcrum we need.
Who knows, Oli McBurnie and Lewis Clarkson could eclipse Nahki Wells and James Hanson and form the basis of an even brighter new dawn.
As we go into 2014, I trust in Parkinson still and have hope that he will build us a beautiful new model to give us some new memories to bore our kids with.
I hope as fans we can be patient and allow him the grace to change as he sees fit. And, when it gets grim, take a look at the teams below and thank whoever you believe in that miracles like 2013 do happen!