Notts County vs Bradford City preview
@Meadow Lane on Saturday 14 March, 2015
By Gareth Walker
This week presents a good opportunity to reflect on how far Bradford City have come and how far they possibly still have to go.
From the soulless and empty Ricoh arena on Tuesday night, to the second reunion with Gary Jones and Garry Thompson on Saturday, the week is littered with reminders of the club’s past, both pleasant and not so pleasant.
Anyone who made the trip to Coventry in midweek will have witnessed a ground and a club that are struggling to halt their downward journey. The recent managerial appointment of Tony Mowbray represents a desperate late stab at preventing their relegation to the bottom tier of league football.
Like Bradford City, Coventry are a former Premier League club who have been hamstrung by financial problems brought about by mismanagement and living beyond their means. The Ricoh Arena, although an impressive stadium in itself, is the white elephant in the Sky Blues’ room.
Having moved to their new stadium shortly after their relegation from the top flight 14 years ago, the monetary constraints of having to pay for their new home have prevented any ambitions that they had of bouncing back and reliving their glory years. Furthermore, after suffering increasingly poor on the field performances, their fans have had to suffer the indignity of being booted out of Coventry all together and having to pay rent to play at a smaller club’s stadium over 30 miles away.
Earlier this season, there was finally some light at the end of the tunnel for them as they managed to negotiate a return to the Ricoh, albeit as tenants to the grounds new owners – a rugby club from London!
The circa 8,000 attendance on Tuesday was only approximately a quarter of the capacity, despite a two for one ticket offer. Such a low crowd goes someway to showing that the disaffection of supporters is still a major problem for the club, as well as the poor playing surface brought about by their new ground-share arrangement.
Tumbling down the leagues? Financial meltdown? Supporter disaffection? The threat of leaving the club’s home? A poor playing surface? These things are all too familiar to us Bantams supporters, and whilst Coventry’s downward trajectory may not yet be over, it is to be hoped that our own downward spiral has ended and also been reversed.
Two people who played a large part in halting our slide will be lining up against us in the black and white colours of Notts County on Saturday.
Messers Jones and Thompson were both pivotal in different ways to the history making team of 2013, and whilst not providing the opportunity for all of us supporters to say “Thank you” in the same way that December’s fixture at Valley parade did, the game at Meadow Lane does give us an opportunity to wistfully reminisce about those fist pumps from the Magic Man and those all important goals against Arsenal and Burton from Thommo.
Once the game against the Magpies kicks off however, the ever impeccable professionalism of the history making duo will ensure that they are both fully focused on getting one over on their former employers. They need the points to halt their alarming downturn in form which has seen them slip from play off contenders to possible relegation candidates in this very tight league.
For the Bantams, the stakes are equally as high. The performance in the first half against Coventry was one which looked tired and weary. Traits such as these are hardly surprising given the hectic schedule that Phil Parkinson and his team are currently in the midst of.
This is the price of success that has a familiar feel to it, and it shows no sign of letting up anytime soon. Just 48 hours after the trip to Nottingham, we have that mouth-watering cup replay against Reading to look forward to.
It’s almost make or break time. Lose against Reading and drop too many more points in the league, and what has undoubtedly already been a momentous season will practically be all but over bar the shouting. City’s ultimate aim of getting back into the Championship would have to wait for another year at least.
We’ve come a long way as a club in a short space of time. Whether the journey reaches an exciting conclusion this May – or whether we still have a few more miles to run over the next year or so – will answered very soon.