By Ian Hemmens
From the club’s earliest origins, Bradford City had a set of brothers involved with the Menzies brothers, David and Duncan. When the Paraders became a proper entity after the famous change from Manningham RFC in 1903, David was a member of the reserves without playing for the first team. He performed several roles for the club, such as steward, before becoming assistant to City’s trainer Charlie Harper until World War One. After a stint at Hull City, he returned to take on a near impossible task of replacing the legendary Peter O’Rourke.
Meanwhile back in 1905, a young 20-year-old arrived from Edinburgh St. Bernards by the name of Jimmy Logan. He only stayed a year before leaving, and later saw service with Avenue in their fledgling years. Of more importance to us was the arrival three years later of his 19-year-old brother Peter, also from the St. Bernards club. He was to become a City ‘Great’, with his highpoint being a member of the victorious 1911 FA Cup-winning side and staying until 1926, after a stint as coach, before retiring to become a publican in Bradford.
Arriving in 1909 was another ‘Great’ that needs little introduction, the legendary Dickie Bond. He stayed till 1922 and became one of the clubs all time heroes, being an England international of the time and arguably the best right winger in the country. A much shorter stay was made by Dickie’s younger brother Anthony, who arrived a year later. His only 1st team appearance was actually replacing his brother on the wing against Chelsea at Valley Parade in 1910.
The next set of siblings to appear for City were the Donaghys in the mid-20s. Peter and Edward arrived from Middlebrough and were the first set of brothers to actually appear together in the first team twice in 1924, and another two occasions the following year.
From the Derbyshire town of Worksop arrived the Moore Brothers: Charlie in 1926, and Fred a year later. Although Fred lasted only around six months and two games, Charlie was to become a club stalwart, appearing in nearly every position for the club. By the time he retired in 1940, his 339 appearances found him second only to the great George Robinson in the all-time appearance list of the time.
Next up were the Keetleys: Charlie and Frank, They appeared six years apart, but there should be no surprise that a pair of Keetleys played: they were from a family of seven footballing brothers during the inter-war years!
1928 saw the arrival of Billy Spence from North Eastern side West Stanley. He was a centre forward who managed one goal in his two games before being released. Just another player in the annals of the club, but five years later saw the arrival of Manchester United legend Joe Spence. An England International, he was at the veteran stage but still managed a superb return of 23 goals from his 41 appearances, a record that stood until Lee Mills broke it as the highest seasonal scorer for the club in the top two divisions. The next campaign, Spence was bizarrely moved to the right wing as other strikers were used without the same success. He left for Chesterfield at the end of the season.
The record breaking season of 1928/29 saw the emergence of another City legend who went on to captain England, the great Sam Barkas. He stayed until 1934 but was joined in 1932 by younger brother Tommy. They appeared together several times in the claret and amber in the mid 30s. As an aside, a further Barkas, Ned, was a fixture over at Leeds Road in the Huddersfield Town side.
1955 saw the arrival of Peter Jackson as Manager and arriving with him were his twin sons, David and Peter. They were to stay until 1961, David making 250 appearances and Peter 199. Peter was the older twin by 10 minutes, but their long stay at Valley Parade saw the popular pair play themselves into City folklore.
A slight piece of writer’s artistic license is needed for the next pair as, during the mid 60s, Roy and Ray Ellam were on City’s books but only Roy made appearances for the first team. Roy stayed for five years, making 149 appearances before continuing his career at Huddersfield Town and Leeds United.
The long slow demise of Bradford Park Avenue in the late 60s saw City take advantage by luring prolific forward Bobby Ham across the city to Valley Parade, where he gave superb service. Also on City’s books, though he didn’t make the first team, was Bobby’s younger brother, Allan Ham.
The late 60s saw the signing of the exciting but ultimately tragic Peter Middleton. A hard shooting forward, his career was ended after a car accident which sadly led to his premature death by his own hand. The family mantle was taken over by younger brother John, a no-nonsense centre back who joined City’s ranks as an apprentice upon his brother’s recommendation. He was to stay six years, making over 180 appearances.
We now reach the 1980s, when former Manchester United and Leeds stalwart Arthur Graham played out his career during the club’s sad stay at Odsal following the 1985 tragedy at Valley Parade. A couple of years later his younger brother, Jimmy, was working his way successfully through City’s youth ranks as an attacking full back. He was a member of the City youth team that won two consecutive championships and managed to make several first team appearances. A further Graham, Tommy was popular over at the Shay at the same time.
A note of City’s final league game of the 2008/09 season, as it was the first appearance together on the teamsheet of the Boulding brothers, Michael and younger sibling Rory. This was the one and only time the Bouldings appeared together in the Claret and Amber.
This brings up back to the present day with the Boulding boys, who also appeared together for Mansfield Town against City before moving to Valley Parade.
That makes 14 sets of siblings to appear for City, as far as I can find, unless anyone can shed light on anyone I might have missed.
The notion of City wanting to be seen as a family club is therefore borne out by the facts above! Quite literally.