By John Dewhirst
Another season, another new kit. Thankfully the club’s colours remain unchanged and Bradford City maintains the distinction of being the only professional club in England to wear claret and amber.
How did claret and amber come about in the first place? The apparent coincidence that these were also the regimental colours of the West Yorkshire Regiment, based at the nearby Belle Vue barracks, has previously been identified. Manningham used the Belle Vue Hotel as its headquarters, so the military was literally on its doorstep. However, the reason for the change has never been explained. During the course of research for my forthcoming book, A HISTORY OF BCAFC IN OBJECTS, I believe that I have found the answer.
Changing the colours was discussed at the Manningham FC annual meeting at the end of April, 1884 and the club’s first recorded game in claret and amber was against Hull at Carlisle Road in September that year. From the middle of March, 1884 newspaper headlines (and local politics) had been dominated by stories about the Siege of Khartoum and the contentious issue of mobilising British troops.
At the time Gordon was facing the Isis of his day, besieged by a Muslim army whose leader – the Mahdi – sought to impose a fundamentalist Islamic regime in Sudan. This was an issue that would lead the Bradford MP, William Forster to initiate a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister, William Gladstone (albeit for reasons somewhat different to the opinions of current serving political representatives in the city).
With the eventual despatch of soldiers from Yorkshire (among other places) to provide reinforcement, it seems a reasonable assumption that adoption of claret and amber represented an act of solidarity by Manningham FC with its own local regiment. However, the decision was considered sensitive such that it was left to the Manningham committee and not its membership to determine.
Manningham adopted claret and amber hoops – the original shirt design had narrow amber hoops – and these shirts were worn at the start of the 1903/04 season. Thereafter, the club reverted to stripes or plain claret shirts with amber facings. It was not until 2012/13 that hoops were restored…
A HISTORY OF BCAFC IN OBJECTS is released in early October and it is possible to subscribe for the book in advance to secure a £5 discount on the retail price and get your name recorded in it. The deadline for subscriber copies is 14th September. An order form can be downloaded here and further details from glorious1911 at paraders.co.uk