WOAP writer Nick Beanland is up next in our regular series asking people with claret and amber in their blood for their Bradford City life story.
How long have you supported City and how did it happen?
Thirty five years. My City supporting life is, like many I would guess, intertwined with my Dad’s. I was first taken by him in 1981 where we stood on the Bradford End watching the likes of David McNiven, Bobby Campbell and, before long, a young Peter Jackson and Stuart McCall.
My Dad had followed City all his life and it was inevitable I would be joining him at Valley Parade from a very young age. I don’t recall having a choice in the matter but I was hooked instantly. I was fascinated by this dark, smoky, grown up world of men so intently focused on the game; despite the fact the view was pretty abysmal. The decrepit, tired Valley Parade of the early 80s is worlds away from the current incarnation.
What’s your typical home matchday routine?
Before becoming a dad I would occasionally enjoy a couple of pre-match pints of decent ale in The Fighting Cock. Family life means matchdays are now a quicker affair – drive in, arrive at Valley Parade shortly before kick off and take my seat in the Bantams Bar.
Favourite Bradford City players?
John Hawley – laconic, laid back, clinical
Bobby Campbell – streetwise, old school centre forward
Stuart McCall – squeezed every last drop out of his talent
John Hendrie – my hero as a boy. Flew past defenders with ease and grace
Greg Abbott – doer of dirty work and clinical from the penalty spot
Dave Evans – classy centre half
Karl Goddard – brilliant left back
Brian Mitchell – great defender and fantastic going forward
Chris Waddle – a privilege to have in him a City shirt
Peter Beagrie – defenders knew what he was going to do but he still sat them on their backsides regularly
Robbie Blake – clever player who made full use of his large backside
Dean Windass – superb finisher and an intelligent footballer
Peter Thorne – even at the end of his career he was sheer class
Gary Jones – bullied the opposition (and, in a good way, his own team) every week
Stephen Darby – a pleasure watching him develop into a very fine right back
Rory McArdle – gives his all without fail and clearly loves defending
Andrew Davies – sets the example others follow
James Meredith – magnificent engine. Could still go higher
Nakhi Wells – excitement guaranteed when he had the ball
James Hanson – huge asset all over the pitch
Favourite non-Bradford City players?
Zinedine Zidane, Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xabi Alonso, Paul Gascoigne, Alan Shearer, Matt Le Tissier.
Valley Parade, St James Park (the mid 90s version), Highbury (Arsenal, not Fleetwood), Villa Park, Anfield, Loftus Road, Molineux, Veltins Arena (Schalke – I’ve thrown this in to appear trendy and continental).
Least favourite grounds?
St Andrews, Burnden Park, Springfield Park (that was Wigan’s previous ground kids), The Memorial Ground (Bristol Rovers).
Favourite period supporting the club?
I’m going to be greedy and pick three.
1984-88 – the era of Bantam Progressivism. I was incredibly fortunate to be moving into my teenage years at this point and thus be able to attend a good number of home and away games and be old enough to appreciate how good that team was.
McCall and Hendrie were the stars but were ably supported by a number of fine players, particularly Paul Tomlinson, Karl Goddard, Brian Mitchell, Greg Abbott, Mark Ellis, Ron Futcher and Ian Ormondroyd. The football that team played was brilliant and they were so close to reaching the top division.
I can still picture my Dad’s face streaming with tears of pride as the team walked out for the last game of the 87/88 season against Ipswich (as it turned out a win that day would’ve secured promotion). He’d been watching them for thirty years and I think he never thought he would see them so close again. After losing at Ayresome Park in the play offs to a fine Middlesbrough team we both thought the chance had passed forever.
1996-2000 – City rose again, only higher this time, thanks to the largesse of the Rhodes family and the nous of Geoffrey Richmond, Chris Kamara and Paul Jewell. Some great memories from this era include taking over Boothferry Park to clinch a third tier play off place, coming back from the dead at Bloomfield Road to reach Wembley for the first time (one of the great nights) and swatting aside Notts County at Wembley.
We then made hard work of staying up but just got over the line thanks to an incredibly tense victory over Charlton on election night in May 1997 and then a spanking of QPR on the last day. I felt the sacking eight months later of Chris Kamara, an absolute gentleman, was harsh but Paul Jewell, given money to spend, did so wisely and the team of McCall, Mills, Blake, Beagrie et al grafted their way to second place and then held their nerve to get over the line at Molineux.
I’d never been so nervous in my City supporting life and cried like a baby at the final whistle. The happy days continued as the work ethic Jewell had instilled was just enough to keep us up in 2000. Let’s draw a veil over the twelve years that followed.
2012-15 – this website has covered this amazing period magnificently so I’ll just add a short story of personal significance. My dad and I remained companions at home games until late 2012 when he was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour on his throat. Despite treatment seeming to have gone well he passed away three months later, quickly and unexpectedly. I miss him every day, but never more than when I’m at Valley Parade.
It makes me smile to think that the last game he watched was his beloved City in the League Cup final (he watched on TV, not well enough to be there in person). Even better, our last game sat together was City knocking out a full strength Arsenal in the quarter final. As last games go you’d struggle to beat it.
Most memorable matches?
City 2 Middlesbrough 0 (September 87) – a complete team performance against a very good team.
City 3 Everton 1 (League Cup, December 88) – great performance capped by a sensational clinching goal headed in by Leigh Palin in front of the Kop.
Wolves 2 City 3 (May 99) – fantastic show of character to beat a Wolves team who hadn’t lost at home for six months and needed a win to have any chance of reaching the play offs.
Aston Villa 2 City 1 (League Cup semi, January 2013) – Martin Tyler put it well – sensational, historic, flying in the face of football logic.
Chelsea 2 City 4 (FA Cup, 2015) – six months on I still think I might have dreamt it.
Match you most regret missing?
Despite the pain it would’ve brought I regret not making it to Ayresome Park for our play off defeat in 1988. The last genuinely pivotal City game I wasn’t at.
Match you wish you had missed?
City 2 Shrewsbury 4 in late 1990. The John Docherty era made Peter Taylor’s cohort look like the current Barcelona team. As Shrewsbury rattled the goals in, including a quick fire hat trick from one-time European Cup winner Gary Shaw, the City team continued to follow the Doc’s instructions at every kick off: play the ball straight back to our keeper to then punt it 80 yards down the field, thus returning possession to the Shrews in a mere handful of seconds. Unbelievably depressing.
What don’t you like about football?
Self-important, rampantly inconsistent referees.
Idiot fans with the memory of an intellectually stunted goldfish.
The self congratulation club that is the Premier League.
How would you improve Bradford City?
The club as it is now is as united as I’ve ever known it. I think we can reach The Championship with our current model but any significant forward steps from there would need a chairman in the Steve Gibson mould and they are few and far between. Oh, and stop playing music after we score.
Paul Jewell and Phil Parkinson.
Least favourite manager?
John Docherty. John Docherty. John Docherty.
All time City XI?
Mitchell Richards Wetherall Goddard
Hendrie McCall Whalley Beagrie
Categories: My Bradford City Life Story