Lost identity

Image by Thomas Gadd (thomasgadd.co.uk)

Image by Thomas Gadd (thomasgadd.co.uk)

By John Dewhirst

Hull City and Cardiff City have campaigned for the traditional identities of their respective clubs to remain unchanged. The cod catchers in particular resisted the loss of their ‘City’ name.

Closer to home, who remembers the animated passions in 1974 when Chairman Bob Martin sought to rename BCAFC as Bradford Metro? In response, Stafford Heginbotham’s defence was that the first name on the current FA Cup trophy was Bradford City AFC and the club’s identity should remain unaltered. Indeed. So how would BCAFC supporters respond in 2015 if a new owner decided to rename the club?

Whilst coverage of BCAFC has never been greater, my general impression is that mentions of the club in the national media have tended to be superficial at best and invariably patronising. I see no difference between the contemptuous attitude of the BBC in 2015 to that of Sky in 1999, for example, and frankly I doubt that it will change.IMG_0011

But what I have found offensive has been the lazy shorthand for BCAFC as ‘Bradford’. See for yourself the classified results or league tables in newspapers and you will find that the press has no difficulty with referring to Bristol City, Cambridge United or Oxford United by their full name, but it has always been a problem so far as BCAFC has been concerned. There are anomalies such as reference to Fleetwood Town or Crawley Town in full and yet BCAFC remains plain Bradford.

I will not conceal that it winds me up and I see it as another example of the couldn’t care less attitude of the national press about our club, both disrespectful and ignorant of our history.

You don’t refer to Dundee United as Dundee and even if Dundee FC became as irrelevant as our former town rivals, would that justify calling Dundee United ‘Dundee’?

The fact that Bradford (PA) is out of the Football League is irrelevant, the identity of our club has and always will be Bradford City. Put simply, when you refer to a football club, ‘Bradford’ is Bradford (PA) and not BCAFC. For good measure, note that we have always been known as Bradford City AFC – as distinct from FC which was traditionally associated with rugby.

My concern is that if left to the national media our club will come to be known as simply ‘Bradford’, whether we want it or not and come the day that there is a new owner at Valley Parade the renaming of BCAFC will have been all but complete. We have a new generation of supporters and, dare I say, glory hunters donning the claret and amber. Reference to our club as ‘Bradford’ is becoming so commonplace in the media and on pirate merchandise that it is almost becoming the norm. Whilst on a different scale it is much the same as the creeping Americanisation of the English language.

IMG_0008Do we care enough about our identity? We will find in the next few weeks that reference to Bradford will far outweigh reference to Bradford City. If others care sufficiently about the accuracy of the club’s identity, can I encourage you to tweet or email the media concerned. (For example having written to the BBC on the matter there now appears to have been a slight shift in policy and greater reference to BCAFC as Bradford City.)

I won’t conceal frustration that BCAFC itself allows the club to be referred to as ‘Bradford’ in the club programme, which seems to me a total abdication of brand management. Nottingham Forest fans make a stink about being called Notts Forest and are not ashamed to protest about it. Shouldn’t BCAFC supporters make a stand for accuracy?

I appreciate that some will consider this a matter of pedantry, but I see it as a matter of trying to safeguard the club’s identity. As Heginbotham reminded people, the first name on the current FA Cup trophy was Bradford City AFC. In the year when we may get closer than at any time since 1911 to the FA Cup final, wouldn’t it be good to be known as Bradford City AFC?


Categories: Opinion

Tags: , ,

51 replies

  1. I so agree with you

  2. A well written and argued article. I agree with John’s main points the media do appear to patronise the smaller clubs! I would like to hear what the BCAFC management has to say on this matter.

  3. Great article John. Branston was doing it on the Pulse the other week. Locally and for fans it’s just City. Outside, Bradford City.

  4. I think someone needs to add some perspective here.

    For a start, let’s disabuse ourselves of the notion that our football clubs, and their identities, are somehow monolithic and timeless. Their history has been a history of change and the idea that is hasn’t is a modern fabrication. The English language seems to lack a word for “imagined nostalgia for a fictional past” but it needs one as it’s infecting our culture. Let’s hope our American cousins invent one! Without going into exhaustive detail, Bradford (sorry, Bradford City ABCDEFC Which Is Not Bradford Park Avenue And Whose Stadium Is Located At 53.804234, -1.758946) has its origins in a rugby league club and what in modern parlance would be called a marketing initiative from the Football League. We’re an artificial club! But so are the rest. Arsenal relocated a long way from the Woolwich Arsenal for commercial reasons. Leeds changed their colours to look more like Real Madrid. So, I don’t think any club’s identity is as timeless or immutable as you suggest. Change happens.

    As an aside, there is a major qualitative difference between what happened at Cardiff, where the club’s colours and logo were unilaterally changed, and at Hull, where the clubs suggested replacing one word in the name with another word which was already part of the clubs identity, if not official name.

    And that leads me onto whether people refer to “Bradford” or not. It’s just shorthand; it’s an easy way to refer to something with a longer name. Everyone knows the club is called Bradford City. Do you always talk about “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”? Or do you call it the UK? Without meaning to be a major league asshole (sorry for the Americanism; I can’t help myself), Bradford Park Avenue aren’t that big a deal to the rest of the world and they see City as being the team that represents our community. Surely that’s a good thing? Surely we should be happy that our cups runs have also brought media coverage to some of the positive change happening in the city?

    At the end of the day, language is a tool. People shape words to fit the meanings they need to express, which change depending on the context. To someone outside Bradford, Bradford City represent the City of Bradford, so they call them Bradford. Note how the foreign media will often refer to Chelsea as London Chelsea, or how the British media talk about Sporting Lisbon when the club is called Sporting Clube de Portugal (“Sporting Club or Portugal”). We see clubs still as representatives of their communities so we rename them to help us identify those communities geographically.

    So yes, your article is certainly pedantic, but that’s not a crime in and of itself. My problem with it is that you show a lack of understanding and a rather harsh attitude to people who, with good intentions, are saying nice things about us. Please reconsider.

    • I agree to a point Mal. I never get too upset over the English language evolving and new usage becoming mainstream. However this is something different, this is an identity and whilst these can change they shouldn’t do without the wide consent of those involved. I prefer to be called Andy rather than Andrew but if people started calling me Raymond I would have a problem with that.

      The examples you give or Arsenal, Leeds and others miss the point a little because their re branding came about through consent. John’s point is that we’re getting re branded through stealth via lazy journalism and that’s the difference.

      I would also argue that it doesn’t matter whether BPA is a big deal or not. They don’t deserve to be re-branded or written out of Bradford’s sporting scene either. Again, to use my analogy, just because I’m not a rocket science doesn’t give people permission to call be Raymond.

      That’s my view anyway.

    • I hear what you say but beg to differ. Ultimately the people who determine the identity are the supporters and it is up to succeeding generations to determine. My point is that if we don’t define our identity it will be defined for us. I’m less relaxed about this than you appear to be. However judging from the word count on your comment we appear equally pedantic.

  5. ‘Bradford City Boys making all the noise’ doesn’t scan as well but on the basis of this article the current unofficial anthem is wrong…

  6. I agree, it was something I first noticed in the League Cup run when we were consistently referred to as BCFC, I know there’s bigger issues to worry about than the A for Association but it does matter. And we’re Bradford City not Bradford, it’s only a name, but it’s our heritage. I’d hate to see great old fashioned names like Rovers and Albion go the same way as rugby league clubs.
    We would probably sell more shirts in foreign countries if we were called Bradford FC and didn’t wear claret and amber but then we wouldn’t be us.

  7. I am in complete agreement with you John and believe this really is very important and well worth our time defending!

    So unreal has the Parky era being that I frequently have to rewatch the big games on TV to prove they actually happened, and to hear reference to ‘Bradford’ rather than ‘Bradford City’ establishes an odd distance where familiar reassurance should be.

    So keep up the welcome pedantry and I’ll sign any petition to the media in defence of our history.

  8. Just looked at BBC fixtures for our division. The following clubs are listed without their additional name.
    Coventry; Crewe; Doncaster; Oldham; Peterborough; Scunthorpe; Swindon; Preston; Yeovil.
    No City; Alexandra; Rovers; Athletic; United; Town or even North End.

    A bit of a fuss over nothing. I’m more annoyed at the Leeds fan in the butcher’s this morning who is seeing his first City game ever when Reading come. “It’s only £15; I’m not sure who I want to win. I know someone whose mate bought 20 tickets.”

    • Yeah I had a conversation with my barber before the Sunderland game – he described himself as not really a football fan, but a city-supporting friend had got 8 tickets to hand around so he was taking his kids. I had mixed feelings. I thought it was great that his kids would have the chance to see city but I was worried that existing fans might have missed out on those tickets. I personally have no problem with ‘non-regular’ city fans but I’m concerned about sightseers getting tickets when supporters can’t.

  9. I dont mind been called Bradford because everyone knows we are Bradford City. I’d be more concerned about the changing of our colours or a blatant change to the name not by missing one word.
    I can see why it would upset some people but to me it doesnt matter as long as we are still officially called Bradford City.

    Ive been going to City since 1983 so have seen some changes but ive not even thought about this until this article

  10. Totally agree with John. I first saw City in the 50s and have been a regular since the 60s so perhaps our viewpoint may be a generation thing which goes back to the days when we had to differentiate between ‘City’ and ‘Avenue’. Even our own fans occasionally chant ‘Bradford, Bradford’ which doesn’t sound right to me!

  11. I think it is a generation thing to some extent – for those who can actually remember Park Avenue being in the Football League. However, I want to pick up on something else in John’s article – have the words ‘glory hunters’ ever before been used in reference to City fans?

    • Rob, for the record I am not that old and saw my first City game after Bradford had left the League. I don’t feel that it is necessarily a generational thing, I’d suggest it was attention to detail. It’s interesting to see the response of supporters on this topic because the club’s identity is ultimately in the hands of future generations and the value or otherwise that they attach to it. The ‘non-regulars’ who managed to make it to Wembley in 2013 but were attending to more critical matters when we played Colchester United probably couldn’t distinguish between City and Bradford and quite likely, a good proportion of them might not care either way. My point is that they wouldn’t know any different from the media.

      I believe that if you lose your identity then with it goes a good chunk of self respect. I’d argue that identity – as opposed to image – has been a fundamental issue for the city of Bradford but that is another matter.

      However the point that hasn’t been made is the value of the BCAFC brand and its commercial potential. How many businesses allow their customers to be blasé about their brand or corporate identity? I shudder to think how much revenue the club loses to the tat merchants on Midland Road selling ‘Bradford’ scarves. Maybe if the club’s identity was valued (and dare I say, understood) people would think twice about buying this crap and if the shop got its act together the club might then derive real value from a branding strategy based on its identity. Ditto the same attention to detail might improve the quality of official merchandise.

      We get what we are prepared to put up with.

      • I wondered how long this argument would be used to bash “non-regulars” – our supporters seem to be very keen on doing that at the moment..

        For the record – I’ve been going to VP since 1978 – and I don’t give two hoots about whether we are Bradford or Bradford City…

  12. I just wonder when in some peoples’ eye do non-regulars and/or glory hunters become welcome at Bradford City?
    Were there only regular fans cheering City on against Sunderland. I think not!
    A fan is a fan regular or not. Just hope that the judgmental regular doesn’t ever become a non-regular. How will he/she live with themselves
    This regular, since 1959, says all welcome. NOW CAN WE ALL GET ON WITH GAME

  13. My apologies for touching a raw nerve. I think we all know the difference between longstanding supporters and those who don’t look beyond the big games. And as for Leeds fans in the butcher’s shop…

  14. Dare I mention that it annoys me when people refer to the Kop as ‘the Carlsberg stand’…

  15. Change of colours happened many times at City without too much fuss. Our great side of 84/85 played in mainly all white and Bob Martin had us playing in White in late 70s when we signed a few players from Leeds. Totally agree with Steve about non regulars attending cup games, all should be made welcome and encouraged to come again. If the usual 12 to 13 thousand turned up to a cup quarter final ,critics would say Bradford has little interest so why should TV companies. Much better to have a full stadium shouting us on, providing season ticket holders don’t miss out of course.

    • To be fair, white was always the club’s third colour and there had been a white strip 50 years before Bob Martin introduced it in 1974. Given that he had threatened to change the colours to amber and brown in 1974, white was accepted with a degree of relief. However in the 70s there were fewer people to protest and far fewer means to do so. The City Gent campaigned for a return to stripes in 1985 and before that Bob Martin had relented to a cl/amber strip in 1977 prior to Admiral offering a big deal the following year. As I recall the only redeeming feature of the Admiral kit in 1978 was that it was produced by a branded manufacturer which was a rarity for us at the time.

      Nowadays the club could not change the colours unilaterally given the commercial significance of replica shirt sales and the need to appease supporters. Until the last 25 years BCAFC was rarely mentioned in the press (other than the T&A or YP) and there was no ambiguity about identity. The internet has been the game changer in the last 15 years and it’s no longer a friendly journalist paying attention to detail. Even in the days of a white kit the club’s identity was pretty unambiguous. I am bemused at the suggestion that this amounts to “imagined nostalgia for a fictional past”; the evidence exists as surviving memorabilia/artefacts and is documented in a certain recently published history of the club.

      If supporters don’t think that the club’s name matters – and if the club considers that there is no commercial leverage from what any other customer-facing business would describe as brand management – then so be it, ‘we’ have determined it. However the point I have tried to make is that the identity of the club is now pretty much at the whim of the media and beyond our control if no-one can be bothered to preserve it.

      Yes, I agree, it’s wonderful to have a capacity gate and 25,000 people shouting c’mon City and waving cl/amber. Unprecedented that we will have two mega gates in close succession.

  16. In official things such as the legue table, I fully agree with John. However, the older I have gotten the more I have shied away from ‘Bradford City’ in it’s entirety. The truth of the matter is ‘Bradford’ has become a loaded place name in British culture. Far from polishing it off by adding ‘City’ as a matter of personal pedantry, I suggest that people do the opposite to a certain degree. Championing the name Bradford, and recognising that we are the cities most supported team (I’ve never heard Everton complain to Liverpool), I feel that we invest in the reshaping and rebuilding of our city. People think of Bradford as a hub of difference, and try and put us down because of it. We should be championing the name ‘Bradford’, chanting it from the rooftoops, and when people ask us where we’re from, we’ll tell them WHO’S BEEN MAKING ALL THE NOISE! Pride of Yorkshire, always will be!

    • Twelve (?) years ago Dave Pendleton and myself tried to promote the concept of a Bradford Sporting Club to encourage City / Bulls / BPA and other senior amateur sports clubs to collaborate under a common umbrella brand or Bradford identity. This was at the time of the financial crisis with discussion about a Bulls merger/relocation. The comment has been made about the need for Bradford to develop a shared identity and focus on that rather than external image alone. There is much that a positive identity based around sport could bring to the district. However it comes back to defining that identity for ourselves and not being passive – I am not averse to a Bradford identity that we define for ourselves. As things stand, ‘Bradford FC’ exists as a shorthand name for the club and is not a substitute identity for what already exists. Create that Bradford identity and then, yes, embrace it as a positive alternative. Thus far you have been the only person who can offer a positive, constructive reason for change other than acceptance by default.

  17. Unfortunately, the concept of an all-embracing Bradford sporting club sharing facilities is as distant as ever. The new owner at the Bulls is talking about buying back Odsal; the even newer owner at Avenue is rumoured to be planning a 5,000 capacity stadium at Horsfall; the old Park Avenue cricket ground is being lined up for a revamp using ECB money; Valley Parade is a modern stadium, but the football club doesn’t own it.

    Physical symbols of the fractured nature of Bradford’s sporting loyalties and loyalties that have taken precedence over competing effectively on the national stage. With Council finances in meltdown political leadership is unlikely to break the mould. Only a catastrophic financial failure of one, or more, of the sporting clubs might force a reappraisement of the impass.

    What is interesting is that the council have recognised the role of sport in regeneration the city centre in that they are moving the city’s main swimming baths from Richard Dunn’s to a site adjacent to the Interchange. Likewise, the recent revival of Bradford’s nightlife is centered around North Parade – an area whose economic stability is built partly upon the rock of guarenteed income from Bradford City home matches. The impact of the Sunderland FA Cup tie on the city centre was astonishing. Something that a 24,000 crowd at Odsal could never replicate.

    In an ideal world a shared central stadium, with adjacent community facilities, has the potential to break the geographic straitjacket that has held back Bradford sport for generations. Look, for example, at the vacant plot of land near Forster Square that awaits the proposed basin of a reopened Bradford Canal. Imagine what regular sporting events would do to that area and indeed the wider city centre. However, you’re more to be able moor your barge than you are to watch City, Avenue and the Bulls share a 21st century central stadium.

    Happy boating!

  18. it would be so,so good to have the media having to call City, by the correct name of Bradford City and I hope when Bradford{Park Avenue} regain Football League status in the not too distant future, B{PA} can reclaim Bradford on the videoprinter.

    • Nothing against Park Avenue John but don’t you think that the reason Bradford football spent most of the 20th century in the doldrums was because we had 2 football league clubs,and just split the Bradford football supporters in half. If in the next few years the Texan billionaire resurrects Avenue and they become a league club,the same thing will happen again. I am so certain that had the footballing forefathers had the sense to merge the clubs in the 1900s, Bradford’s footballing history would have been so different. Imagine for instance that if instead of Leeds utd replacing the defunct Leeds City they performed side by side as happened in Bradford then the history of Leeds football would not be as successful with 2 clubs to support. Would find John Dewhirsts views on this subject interesting as I believe a Wool City rivals football book is coming out by him to follow the really fascinating City objects book.

      • Without wishing to offend those whose first love is Bradford (PA) AFC I am inclined to agree with you. Bradford was unable to support two League clubs and it would have made much sense to merge in 1907 as was proposed. The reason they didn’t had much to do with the nature of their relationship as rugby clubs in the nineteenth century that resulted in considerable ill-feeling between the two. Manningham FC’s viability had been tenuous for most of its existence and the club relied upon cup campaigns and floating support to remain solvent. The rivalry between Manningham and Bradford was not principally one of class antagonism as has been claimed, it was nothing short of economic competition between the two to survive – what later became a fight to the death in the twentieth century. It was essentially the story of two blitzed-out balance sheets.

        I think it is great that someone from the Bradford diaspora has pledged to invest his wealth in his home city but frankly I question the sanity of sinking millions into that club on the pretence of getting back into the League. The revival of Bradford was arguably left too late – by 1988 when the club was reformed most of the old supporters had drifted away – and the challenge facing the Avenuites is that there are now too few of them and a successor generation hardly exists. For the benefit of Bradford sport I really wish that the City and Bradford clubs could co-ordinate their efforts and pool resources. I would have thought that the Texan guy could get more bang for his buck if, say he invested in a modern training facility and his team resolved its stadium dilemma by coming to Valley Parade but of course the ‘Stans’ would never countenance playing there. Bradford will probably end up with a Rushden & Diamonds-esque stadium at Horsfall that is rarely filled and of course the Dr Martens folly now lies empty.

        I am not so wedded to a BCAFC identity if a pooling of resources was demonstrated to be in the best interests of the city and its sporting success. I just can’t see the Bradford (PA) dream being realised and it seems tragic that when someone is prepared to invest in Bratfud soccer the money will be as good as poured down the drain. It’s not as if BCAFC couldn’t offer an investor loads of tax losses to take advantage of.

        There is an amusing story about the rival egos of BFG and Caisley getting in the way of a Bulls-City combination. I think that there is a case for making sport the basis of a regeneration strategy for Bradford but it will never happen whilst any of the senior clubs (and I include Bradford in that category on account of 6th tier status) are not prepared to countenance a bigger vision and frankly I can’t see how anyone would tolerate working with the morons that lead Bfd Met Council. It brings me back to this debate about identity. I’d willingly embrace a Bradford AFC identity if it stood for something other than lazy shorthand.

        As you refer, the sequel to OBJECTS will focus on the rivalry between the two clubs from 1880 through to 1974 and I hope to confirm the timing of its publication shortly but all being well it will be later this year. I promise that there will be a few surprises that challenge many of the myths that have been told about the rivalry.

  19. It’s been one of my frustrations for years, League table only showing part names, Talksport not giving the full team name when doing the football scores and merchandise not having the full correct name.
    I set up a Facebook page please like if you agree.https://www.facebook.com/TheresMoreThanOneCityAndUnited?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

  20. On a lighter note, I searched for FA Cup fixtures on my Aussie iPhone and was informed by Google that the following fixtures would take place this weekend:

    The Bantams v Reading
    Aston Villa v West Brom
    Liverpool v Rovers
    Man United v Arsenal

  21. At least it’s ‘The’

  22. Lots of team names are abbreviated in all sorts of ways and I disagree with the premise that this is specific to us. Look at the BBC Sport’s League Tables and the same is true of Blackburn, Tottenham, Preston, Doncaster, Ipswich, Hull (although this is arguably of their own making), Leeds, Leicester, Crewe, Derby, Charlton, On and on United.

    What is specific to us (and wonderfully highlighted by the old programs) is that there was once a rival team in the city that went by the name of “Bradford” and for those old enough to remember that era it doesn’t sit right that we are referred to by “their name”.

    This is completely understandable and I would argue nostalgic rather than pedantic. Unfortunately it’s not relevant to the majority of our fans (never mind “lazy journalists”) that can’t remember the Park Avenue rivalry (an ever increasing number!) and unless you can persuade them that it is (and good luck with that) then the outcome is inevitable.

    Park Avenue may feel aggrieved, they have arguably lost their identity, but as a thirty three year old Bradford/Bradford City/City fan I just don’t see the problem.

    • I think you will find that Cambridge United and Oxford United are distinguished from their non-league neighbours who are at a similar level to Avenue but that is by the by. I would imagine that your I am much younger than your father and I didn’t start attending games at City until after Avenue had gone bust. For me it’s not nostalgia, it’s pride in the club’s history/identity/heritage. Other clubs appear to value it – look at AFC Wimbledon, but somehow a good number of City fans don’t which is sad when we actually have a history and tradition to be proud of. Perhaps one day when Red Bull buy the club it will be put to the test.

      • As soon as someone buys us and tries to rename the club Bradford Black Sheep/Bradford Bantams we will all be up in arms in the same way as Hull (City) fans were, but why does being occasionally referred to in an abbreviated way have any bearing on that? I am proud of the heritage of the Bradford City and would never accept the name being changed but I don’t see that unless we insist we are never called “Bradford” this is more or less likely.

        Cambridge United and Oxford United (who are often referred to as Oxford and Cambridge anyway) have both been non-league for significant chunks of time in the last ten years hence there is a need for a distinction. Despite our best efforts the current gulf between us and PA is much wider and unless that changes we have been in the same boat as every other club for the last forty years.

    • When you sat your GCSE History did you put a note at the bottom of your paper – please forgive me, anything outside of my living conscious is a blur to me so I have ignored the detail because it doesn’t matter? Nostalgia? It’s the name of the club we support. Don’t dismiss it as the ramblings of a geriatric home.

      • No I didn’t, much in the same way as I don’t imagine you put a note on the bottom of your English O Level exam, “Forgiveth me, the neweth tongue is a mystr’y”.

        I’m not being dismissive, am very proud of the name of our club and sincerely believe it will never change, but the problem as explained in the article is something that is generally particular to those that remember a PA and City rivalry (which as I said is completely understandable). As those days get further away fewer and fewer people will care, certainly not in the same way.

      • The gap between Cambridge Utd and Cambridge City is the same as between the two Bradford clubs (three tiers). Oxford City are currently two tiers below Oxford United.

        However the media treatment of club names is wholly inconsistent. In the Indie this morning the classified results / tables show ‘Bradford’ yet manage to state Cambridge Utd and Oxford Utd and for that matter Bristol City (two divisions apart from Rovers, soon to be three). Newport County are also recognised by their suffix as are others who don’t even have a second club in their town. Abbreviation of Bradford City to Bradford therefore is certainly not for reasons of text space.

        When we were promoted to the Premier League it was the case that every club had its identity stated in full and yet, surprise surprise we were always ‘Bradford’. Was that a marker of respect to the club and its heritage or was it a couldn’t give a toss attitude so prevalent in the media towards us?

        The abbreviation has now become so common place that ‘Bradford’ has become orthodoxy and accepted. Junior reporters know no better. Supporters being ambivalent to the matter essentially condones it. If you value the identity and heritage as you claim I fail to see how you can be so passive and not recognise the anomaly. AFC Wimbledon fans make a big deal of their unique identity, even if the outside world couldn’t care less and, shock horror, even it related to before people were born. Why don’t City fans value theirs and promote it? I am genuinely surprised that you can’t see this.

        Maybe a new owner should rename the club Bradford City and see if that upset people.

      • Your probably 50% right with that description bantam, I’ll let you decide which half! Thanks for the “youth of today” comment bigbob, I can assure you I don’t wear it well.

        For some reason I get the sense that we’re not going to see eye to eye on this point chaps! I will concede that my appreciation of our heritage is skewed by my experience and that I have a reasonably flippant attitude to the importance of Bradford PA today.

        What I find frustrating, and the reason I have gone in feet first on this is based on the idea we are being singled out or victimised. I just don’t think we are – I had a look at the PL table on the back of the Metro on my way to work this morning and seven of twenty teams had their name butchered in some way. It’s West Brom I feel the most sorry for they only get half their name printed.

        I am very proud of the club (certainly at the moment), very proud to have been a life long supporter of the club but the name thing in the press and the poor old us the BBC hate us stuff I don’t agree with.

        As an aside I can’t flipping wait for Saturday, starting to make me a bit sick already. Hope you boys/girls enjoy it!

    • Charles, sorry should have added… The Indie even recognises the mighty Braintee club as ‘Braintree Town’ and the club from Alfreton as Alfreton Town. Even our mighty opponents last night = Crawley Town. Heavens, what does that say about our identity? It’s sloppy, lazy journalism.

      • Maybe Robert, but look at this Derby v Brighton report from the same paper. Use “Derby County” once and “Brighton and Hove Albion” not at all.


      • It says to me that when people refer to Bradford or Villa or Derby or Tottenham everyone in the country knows they are talking about Bradford City, Aston Villa, Derby County and Tottenham Hotspur. The identity of those clubs could hardly be stronger.

        Hardly anyone knows who Braintree Town or Alfreton Town or Bradford Park Avenue are.

      • My point entirely. You are providing another example of sloppy, lazy journalism. As for ‘occasional use’ of the abbreviation ‘Bradford’, I think you will find that far from being occasional, it is the norm. It is the renaming of the club by stealth.

      • The inconsistency is nothing short of sloppiness and lack of attention to detail. There is no other explanation. You make a big assumption that ‘despite reference to ‘Bradford’ everyone in the country knows that they are talking about Bradford City’. That is highly questionable because we are becoming known as ‘Bradford’. If we were known as Bradford City I’d argue that you would see more evidence for it. It is the renaming of the club by stealth.

      • The renaming of the club by stealth?!

        I’m sorry bigbob but this at best precious and at worst alarmist paranoia. Who is doing this and why? Seems a little beyond lazy, sloppy journos. Are supporters of any of the other clubs mentioned worried about this unidentified, lazy but stealthy, football-club-renaming-slop-goblin or is it just those City fans who can’t or won’t disassociate “Bradford” from “Bradford Park Avenue”?

      • Probably a clever dick like you.

      • LOL But what I find even more amusing is the claim: ‘ I am proud of the heritage of the Bradford City’ . In fact you are so proud that you can’t even see the value of promoting its identity. Youth of today, eh?

  23. Bradford City or Bradford, does it matter? Of course it matters, we are a unique club just like every other club are and as such deserve to be called by our rightful name. I am old enough to remember the sometimes fierce rivalry between our club and our neighbours from Park Avenue so the difference has always been there. As a 3rd generation City fan born in Manningham, Avenue were the other lot from Horton .

    Since their demise though it has become, sadly, a bit lazy, mainly by journalists and the national media in general to refer to us as plain Bradford. I don’t see them doing the same with the Manchester clubs and if you want to say , well Avenue are a low non league club; well,they still refer to the club at the top of our division as Bristol City even though Rovers left the league last year.

    Our name is our identity , our pride. When the Kop is singing they don’t sing ‘We love you Bradford’ do they? Its a chorus of ‘We love you City’ sung with passion & pride.

    As a plea to all fans, lets make sure the lazy media know we are ‘Bradford City ‘ & proud of our name, our club, our history, our heritage. As i say, they wouldn’t get away with calling the Old Trafford Giants plain ‘Manchester’ so why should we put up with it?

  24. I have followed this exchange of views and would like to offer yet another perspective to the debate. To start with let me highlight that I started supporting City long after the two Bradford clubs had been League rivals. The Avenue rivalry is as irrelevant to my supporting experience as it is to my offspring. I therefore resent the charge that this is about nostalgia.

    Later this year we will remember the 30th anniversary of the fire. Frankly I’m dreading it. There’ll probably be the same journalistic crap that we saw in the Guardian back in December. How we didn’t remember the fire and all the rest.

    I was part of the generation of fans who lived through that era. I remember the decrepit state of the ground, the pitiful state of the club, the insolvency and of course the fire. In the aftermath we faced a totally bankrupted club, to say that it was year zero is about the best description that I can offer. Those involved with the club at the time felt that the best we could do was to rebuild the club, its dignity, self-respect and pride and get back to a new normal of trying to hold your head high. A big part of that was to do our bit to safeguard the club’s identity. For want of repeating what has frankly become tedious, that meant little things like trying to ensure that the club was known by its actual name.

    The City Gent fanzine was part of that movement. The term ‘Bantam Progressivism’ was my creation, it summed up the mood of going forward and yes, progressing. We promoted interest in the club’s history through CG. Previously the only resources about the club’s history was through word of mouth. There were no books (at least not until 1988), no magazines and of course, no internet. Thirty years later we’ve seen a multitude of publications, there have been exhibitions at the Industrial Museum and for the best part of a decade we had the Bantamspast museum. Our heritage has been celebrated and shared.

    In the last 15 years ‘Bradford’ has been the shorthand orthodoxy for our identity and it is the national media that has spread the phenomenon to the extent that young fans think nothing of it. In truth I find it sad, not for reasons of nostalgia but because I see it as a matter of the club’s self respect and identity being compromised. I find it a backwards step.

    Frankly it pisses me off that individuals such as yourself just don’t get it and don’t recognise the value of our own unique identity, defined by ourselves and not by some junior reporter who can’t be arsed to pay attention to the detail. I find it sad that the club hasn’t managed its brand, arguably one of the biggest assets at its disposal. (The club’s problem is lack of resource but hopefully we will see the semblance of brand management being introduced.)

    Thirty years ago we were proactive and assertive in defending and promoting the club’s identity. We saw it as vital for the club to regain its pride and for us as supporters to ensure that the club could win back its self respect instead of being associated with failure and disaster.

    Succeeding generations will inherit the club and will have their own value judgements but I would hope that tradition and heritage are not dismissed as irrelevant and ‘just’ nostalgia. BCAFC did not begin when Charlie Piper started supporting it.

    For me the club’s name and identity is the cornerstone of its self-respect but I’m obviously old fashioned.

    • I have commented flippantly. Believe me I am well aware that BCAFC did not begin when I started supporting it – I used to go matches with my grandad! My point is that our heritage, history, pride in our club, pride in our city the whole experience of Bradford City being important to any of us, our identity included, is not dependent on whether or not we are occasionally referred to as “Bradford” in the press or by idiots like me. None of these things are fragile, and that should be celebrated. It is something to be proud of.

      We are not alone in suffering from “short-hand orthodoxy” when it comes to our name, this has happened to most clubs in the last 15 years. Our “brand” could be managed more effectively but our name will never be changed. We are not in any danger here and nor are we victims.

  25. The only publication i can think of before the City Gent boys came on the scene was W. H. Sawyers history of the club which was like a bible to keen fan of the clubs history. I came across the 1950s reprint which had all the stats in as well as Sawyers original text. I was lucky that my Father had always encouraged me by telling tales given to him by his father of the glory days. My Grandparents lived next door to Bob Torrance and a bit more tenuous was the fact that Frank O’Rourke used to live next door to the house were i was born in Manningham.

    I was always keen to learn more and contacted the doyen of City reporting Dick Williamson of the T&A for more information.

    These days there are more distractions and needs on peoples time and i’ve got the feeling that you can’t make people want to know about the past but you can leave a legacy for those who do be it a large or small number. My problem is with the media who basically couldn’t care less what is going on if it doesn’t fit their ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ agenda. The clubs present success has at times made us flavour of the month but , even then, they cannot give us our proper name. Is it so hard to add ‘City’ to their reporting? Its pure laziness & unprofessional. I add national newspapers to my criticism also, they are the keepers of the flame for the written word but lazy journalism is making a mockery of their standing.

    We are called Bradford City, please accept and acknowledge the fact, we’ve been around for 113 years, surely you must know of us by now!

  26. The experience of the Premier League was that the national media was generally patronising and condescending. The attitude from the start was that we were involved only to provide the opposition (Rodney Marsh et al) and I am not sure that things have really changed. My opinion of the media is pretty poor and I believe that with the multiplication of channels the average standard has deteriorated – lack of attention to detail, sloppiness etc. However I would agree that I don’t think that we are necessarily victimised or singled out. The abbreviated of BCAFC to ‘Bradford’ is now so commonplace that I don’t think the hacks even realise differently or care about checking.

    Ditto I agree that if I was a WBA fan I’d be hacked off but on the other hand if I was a WBA fan I would try to do something about it. If you tolerate crap then you’ll keep getting crap; you set your own standards. And just because we are little old BCAFC why should we have to settle for second best and accept it?

%d bloggers like this: