By Jason McKeown
Are you one of Bradford City’s 6,000 loyalist supporters? If you are going to Stamford Bridge, Chelsea this weekend, you will argue that you are. If you are one of the unlucky ones who wanted to go but couldn’t get a ticket, you will still argue that you are. There is no quantifiable way to rank different supporter levels of dedication, and very few objective ways of measuring it. We are all selfish to an extent; we are all partisan in championing our own viewpoint. And that’s because, ultimately, we all care deeply about Bradford City Football Club, and can’t imagine that others could possibly care more.
The club has taken a lot of flak over the ticket arrangements, and they deserve to face it. They were undoubtedly stuck between a rock and a hard place, but that doesn’t excuse very obvious failings in the distribution of Chelsea tickets that have left many people upset. The club should be ashamed that they allowed hundreds of people to queue for hours with absolutely no chance of getting a ticket, and must show humility when faced with angry complaints from those who aren’t clutching a golden ticket. This sort of occasion should have brought everyone together, but instead has driven people apart. This should be an occasion to revel in been a Bradford City supporter, but instead there is an unpleasant bitterness.
The #bcafc hashtag on Twitter, and Facebook-related pages, demonstrated this vast disparity in moods. An upset message from a supporter who missed out, followed by another fan posting a picture of their ticket. To be honest, you’d think the latter group could have shown a bit more tact.
The chances are, like me, you know of people going to Stamford Bridge this weekend who don’t really merit their place, when judged against the greater dedication of others. But they have every right to be there too. We all do. It is not an easy and attractive option to be a Bradford City supporter, and anyone who shows even lukewarm interest should always be encouraged rather than pushed away.
It was a perfect storm in many senses. Two years on from the League Cup miracle, a trip to a big Premier League club once again has the novelty. This time is seems more of a one-off occasion. It’s a fair distance away but a 3pm Saturday kick off is easily manageable. And it’s not on TV, so there is no consolation for missing out on a ticket. No fair-weather way to enjoy the game for those who’d have been happy to settle for just that.
City could have sold three times the 6,000 tickets they were allocated, and you will have your own thoughts on the fairest way to have distributed them. On WOAP this week we will tackle this issue in more detail, but it is sad that the build up to such an exciting cup tie is partially overshadowed by this fall out.
If you are going to Stamford Bridge on Saturday, enjoy it. A glance into the history books (another thing WOAP will do this week) illustrates just how rare a moment this is. But as you savour the atmosphere and shout yourself hoarse, spare a thought for the many more Bradford City fans who will be following events at home. They deserved to be there too.