WOAP reader and City supporter of more than quarter of a century, Jonny Lonsdale, tells us about his life following the Bantams.
How long have you supported City and how did it happen?
My dad recalls taking me to my first game when I was 18 months old, so as I approach my 32nd birthday it will be knocking on 25 years as a season ticket holder. Fleetingly, I had a soft spot for Crystal Palace after watching them lose in the FA Cup final against Man Utd and I used to love watching the Bright/ Wright combo.
One of my earliest memories of a City match was against Hull at home when we lost 2-1. Looking at the records I would have been 6 years old and I distinctly remember us scoring when we were 2-0 down, I jump out of my seat cheering but nobody else around was bothered as we were still losing. After that, I was hooked.
What’s your typical home matchday routine?
My home match day starts bright and early on a Saturday as the group of us venture to a local pub where they do amazing full English breakfasts for £3. From then we each head home and get ready and all travel in convoy to the ground for 1:30pm. We’ll further suppress our appetites by having a beer and a toastie at Bar Italia on Manningham Lane.
After that we usually head to the ground for 2:30pm for another beer in the Bantams Bar in the Kop. I do like to be out watching the warm up and take in whatever atmosphere I can, as for me its all part of the experience and excitement.
Favourite Bradford City players?
I look at the ridiculous prices people are paying for players (Sterling, Benteke etc…) and do wonder how much Peter Beagrie would go for in his pomp.
For me he is the most gifted player I have had the pleasure of seeing at Valley Parade. Yes, Carbone was brilliant, but he didn’t do it like Beags – nor did he do it as consistently. I’ll never forgive him for missing the penalty against Wolves though and putting us through that nail biting finale.
Of course I am not going to miss out on mentioning Sir Stuart, how he organised the players on the pitch and ran through brick walls for this club I’m not sure if I’ll see another player like that. Yes Gary Jones was that type for us, but as his was a fleeting lust he’s not up there for me.
My first ‘favourite’ player was Sean ‘Scud’ McCarthy, as a young lad I just remember him banging goals in for fun and I’m sure he was the first player to do a cartwheel as a celebration. My favourite goal of his was Wigan away in 1991/92 when he scored an overhead kick from a corner at the front post.
I do like wingers though and Jamie Lawrence deserves a mention purely because of the effort he put in every time he wore that shirt. If any player puts in that kind of effort, he is immediately endeared by the City faithful.
I did enjoy the influx of Swedish players during the Kamara era and Rob Stiener and Marco Sas (who could land the ball on a six pence?) were of a particular highlight.
Favourite non-Bradford City players?
In the flesh Theirry Henry was fantastic. Pace, composure and class as a person was really something to behold. A couple of years ago I went to watch the Emirates Cup and must say Tomasz Roskicy was exceptional; fantastic movement and passing with a low sense of gravity.
On the box there’s only Ronaldo/Messi for me. People may not agree, but I believe Ronaldo is a better player than Messi and offers more. He constantly pulled Man Utd of the bad stuff and latterly has done it with Real/Portugal. For a long time I thought that Messi was a good player, playing in a great team. With Iniesta and Xavi putting chance after chance on a plate for you, you’re always going to get the headlines by putting it in the back of the net.
I’m not a big fan of these great big stadiums where you are miles away from the action, so my favourites are:
- Stamford Bridge – A really good old fashioned ground close to the pitch.
- Deepdale – Seen us play some great games there and score some fabulous goals from Blakey and Yeates.
- Spotland – I love the atmosphere that is generated from Bantams army with a good view too.
- Bootham Crescent – because I love York as a place, it’s a bonus they are back in the Football League. Delighted to get York in the cup and looking forward to the trip.
Least favourite grounds?
The Alfred MCalpine/Galpharm/John Smith Stadium – Purely because we’ve not won many there. Last time I can recall is when Owen Morrison thought he was Robbie Blake for the day and we won 1-0.
Wembley, it’s just too big to create a good atmosphere.
Favourite period supporting the club?
I honestly cannot decide between the current and the Richmond Era. Going to Wolves and getting promoted to the Premier League, heading back to Calico Jacks in Little Germany are scenes of jubilation I will never forget. That was done when we had a bit of money.
The Parky era has been incredible. Never since supporting City have I ever felt as closely associated with the players who wear the shirt, and for me that is down to the manager instilling a work ethic within his players. ML/JR have steadied the finances but Parky knew how to get the fans back on side. He has made us all realise the decade of decline would stop if we all started pulling together in the same direction and it’s been a fantastic journey.
Most memorable matches?
There are the obvious games which I will never forget such as Notts County in the play off final, Villa/Chelsea/Wigan away in the League Cup run and also Northampton in the play off final. But I’ve selected the best of the rest:
West Ham 5-4 City (1999/2000)
All Deano had to do was square it and we would have been winning 5-2 and the game would have been over but no, he hits the post, Di Canio sits on the half way line, gets up and inspires an incredible come back.
Accrington Stanley 2-3 City (2008/2009)
We were going to leave with 15 minutes to go as England were playing so we would have got back in time for the start of that. As we headed for the tunnel we scored and turned the game on its head in 10 minutes. One of my favourite feelings watching a City game coming from the abyss.
Huddersfield 3-3 City (1996/1997)
As depressing as conceding three second half goals to your local rivals is, nothing beats seeing your star man score from a corner. 3-0 at half time, what could go wrong in front of the Sky cameras?!
Hull 2-3 City (1995/1996)
Easily the most terrifying game I have ever been to as I was a wee nipper of a 12 year old and in front of me people were firing rockets at the approaching Hull hooligans. Eventually the game is remembered for the right reasons and the army of Bantam fans went home happy to be in the play offs.
Wolves 2-3 City (1998/1999)
Here we were, stood on the edge of history about to see our team play in a game which would take us to the promised land, and we were sat on a banking on the M6 because our mini bus had broken down. As we sit there in the group of 12 of us I try comforting my dad’s mate’s son Tom, who can only have been 8 years old, was a bit upset at the thought of missing the game.
We managed to get taxis to the ground and ended up walking in 15 minutes late. We walked in and were losing 1-0 and the rest is history. That young lad went on to play for City youths and did quite well at Man Utd before moving to Everton this summer. I wish I had understood the importance of the day, been old enough to really take it in and comprehend what I had witnessed seeing City get to the Premier League.
Match you most regret missing?
Any of the Intertoto Cup games away. Gutted to not have gone to RKC Waalkwyck but I was a young lad and my dad wanted to go on the piss so couldn’t begrudge him that one. Also Blackpool away in the second leg of the play offs. I remember jumping around my bedroom listening on the radio to the goals going in.
Match you wish you had missed?
Chesterfield away – 3-0 (2006/2007 relegated)
This is probably the most depressing City game I have ever been to. Awful performance which summed up how bad we had been that season. I’ve never seen a City team give as little as that side did that day.
What don’t you like about football?
Modern day prima donna cash cows mercenaries who are so unaffiliated to the club they play for, as well as the fans who support said clubs.
How would you improve Bradford City?
The changing room area. The old building is a bit of an eyesore and I would love to see it gone and state of the art facilities built. I understand there are more important things at this stage as we don’t have the funds to put into something like this, but in time it definitely needs addressing.
Phil Parkinson – from where we were to where we are with everything that’s gone on in-between has been an incredible journey. I do think this will probably be his last season with us, so lets make sure we enjoy it.
Least favourite manager?
David Wetherall. Yes controversial, but he did nothing to stop the rot and eventually saw us get relegated. As a player superb, as a manager dreadful.
All time City XI?
Gunnar Halle David Wetherall Andrew Davies Wayne Jacobs
Jamie Lawrence Stuart McCall Chris Waddle Peter Beagrie
Robbie Blake Lee Mills
Subs: Mark Schwarzer, Simon Francis, Gary Jones, Beni Carbone, Andy O’Brien, Eddie Youds, Edinho
Categories: My Bradford City Life Story