By Nathan Evans
In the 1998/99 season for the first time in 77 years, Bradford City were promoted from the then Division One to the top flight of English football, the Premier League. After a poor start to the season, Paul Jewell’s men won 3-2 at Molineux against Wolves on the last day of the season to finish runners up behind runaway champions Sunderland.
Strikers Lee Mills from Port Vale and Isaiah Rankin from Arsenal who joined Bradford City for transfer fees of £1 million and £1.3 million respectively and the free transfer signing of City legend Stuart McCall led the team in a successful campaign.
The 1999/00 was to be yet another eventful campaign for the Bantams. Despite beating Newcastle, Arsenal and of course Liverpool at home and claiming valuable draws against Tottenham (twice), Chelsea and Everton, City spent the season languishing at the foot of the table for nearly the whole season. Despite poor results through-out the season Bradford City survived in 17th position thanks to the 1-0 defeat of Liverpool at Valley Parade in the last game of the season, courtesy of one of the club’s most famous goals, a header from centre back David Wetherall.
But where did the members of that Premier League surviving 1999/00 squad play after finishing at Valley Parade and what did they go on to do after retiring from the game of football?
Shirt number: 1
Starting appearances: 24
After making 50 appearances for Manchester United and 44 for Middlesbrough, shot stopper Gary Walsh joined Bradford City in the summer of 1997 after a short loan spell at the club for a transfer fee of £500,000. During his time at Valley Parade he made 128 appearances in all competitions and in the 1999/00 season shared goal with other City ‘keeper Matt Clarke.
Gary Walsh won the player of the season award at Valley Parade in the 1997/98 season and went on to become a frequent player for the Bantams. Due to injury, Walsh left the club in 2003. After leaving City before the 2003/04 season began, Walsh took up the back-up goalkeeper spot at Wigan and stayed until 2006 after Wigan’s first promotion to the top flight. He announced his retirement from football in 2006.
After his retirement, Walsh went on to coach under Paul Jewell at firstly Wigan and then secondly Derby County before a brief spell with Hartlepool United. Nowadays Gary Walsh is the first team goalkeeping coach under Steve Bruce at Championship outfit Hull City.
Position: Right back
Shirt number: 18
Starting appearances: 40
In the summer of 1999, Norwegian right back Gunnar Halle joined the newly promoted Premier League side for £200,000 from our rivals, Leeds and would go on to make a total of 70 appearances in all competitions for the Bantams.
During his playing career, Halle made 535 total appearances at five different sides, scoring a fantastic 43 goals from defence. Halle also played 64 times for his native Norway, scoring five goals (including a hat-trick against minnows San Marino) and was a member of two Norwegian World Cup squads in 1994 and 1998.
Retiring in 2004, Gunnar Halle has gone on to have several coaching and managerial jobs in Norway since his time playing the sport finished. In 2009/10 the former defender managed Norwegian side Lyn as well as formerly taking up an assistant role at Viking, Lillestrom, Lyn and Molde. Halle has too been assistant manager of the Norway women’s national side, and is now assistant manager at Strømmen IF.
Position: Centre back
Shirt number: 14
Starting appearances: 40
Andy O’Brien joined Bradford City’s junior ranks in 1994. He made his senior debut for the Bantams in October 1996 against Queens Park Rangers and soon after became a regular in the Bradford City first team, helping the team to promotion to the Premier League during the 1998/99 season under manager Paul Jewell.
The Republic of Ireland international was a regular at Valley Parade during his sides two years in the Premier League, forming a solid partnership with club captain David Wetherall in central defence. In 2000/01, when City were in financial difficulties and facing relegation, Newcastle United bid for Andy O’Brien. After 133 league appearances for the Bantams he moved to St James’ Park and stayed in the Premier League, City receiving a club record £2 million fee.
Andy O’Brien went on to make 120 appearances for Newcastle before making lengthy spells at Bolton, Portsmouth and Leeds. His most recent exploits were with MLS Vancouver Whitecaps where he made 50 appearances in two seasons with the Canadian outfit.
Position: Centre back
Shirt number: 5
Starting appearances: 41
It’s safe to say that David Wetherall is a true fans’ favourite. Brought in for a club record transfer fee of £1.4 million at the start of the 1999/00 Premier League season from rivals Leeds, Wetherall soon became a rock at the back for the Bantams and was the only player in the Premier League to have played every minute of the league season that year.
His vital goal against Liverpool on the last day of the season at Valley Parade secured the club’s position in the Premier League for the 2000/01 season. His first year at Valley Parade signalled a 12 year stay with the club as a player, a coach and for a spell even player-manager.
After making 304 appearances at Bradford City, playing in all four English leagues during his stay Wetherall took up a coaching role at Valley Parade from the summer of 2008, first as reserve team manager and then later as the club’s youth side manager, the former centre back also holds the UEFA B coaching licence.
After his time at Bradford City, David Wetherall went on to take up a role at the Football League as head of youth development. Wetherall was also inducted into Show Racism The Red Card’s hall of fame in December 2007 for his work with their anti-racism campaign.
Position: Left back
Shirt number: 22
Starting appearances: 23
In a similar vein to David Wetherall, former left back Wayne Jacobs is a Bradford City legend after making 318 appearances for the club between 1994 and 2005. Scoring 12 times during his stay, Jacobs was a vital player in the team that took the club to the Premier League for their two year stay.
Wayne Jacobs also played for Halifax Town, Hull City, Sheffield Wednesday and Rotherham United during his 19 year long playing career. Wayne Jacobs further took up a caretaker role at the club in 2010 and was assistant manager under Stuart McCall and Peter Taylor.
Away from his footballing career, Wayne Jacobs founded and helped to set up charity ‘One In A Million’, to help disadvantaged in the Bradford area. In September 2013 the ‘One In A Million’ charity opened a free school on a site attached to Valley Parade, a fantastic feat for the former full back.
Position: Right midfielder
Shirt number: 7
Starting appearances: 20
A charming character, Jamie Lawrence was a clear favourite during his time at Valley Parade. Known for his bright haircuts as well as his footballing ability, Lawrence made 155 appearances for the Bantams during his stay at the club.
As well as having spells at Sunderland, Doncaster Rovers, Leicester City, Walsall, Wigan Athletic, Grimsby Town and Brentford, Lawrence also enjoyed a lengthy non-league career with stints at Fisher Athletic, Worthing, Harrow Borough, Margate, Ashford Town, Banstead Athletic and Cobham. The predominately right midfielder gained 24 caps for his national side Jamaica scoring once in the process.
After his retirement, Jamie Lawrence managed Ashford Town between 2009 and 2011 and now has his own football academy in Tooting, established in 2008. Lawrence is also the fitness coach for the Ghanaian national team, a position he has held since December 2014.
Position: Central midfielder
Shirt number: 4
Starting appearances: 36
A true Bradford City legend, Stuart McCall was the heart and soul of this team. Dominating midfield, McCall made 36 starts for the Bantams in all competitions during the 1999/00 Premier League campaign, scoring on one occasion in a home match against Tottenham.
Famed for his passionate displays, as well as that car park incident (it had to be mentioned!), Stuart McCall enjoyed two lengthy spells at Valley Parade amassing an impressive 395 appearances, managing to find the back of the net on 45 occasions. McCall further had lengthy spells at Everton, Rangers and Sheffield United making a total of 763 domestic appearances during his playing career and played 40 times for his native Scotland, scoring against Sweden in the 1990 Italian World Cup.
In July 2000, McCall’s first coaching role came about when he was appointed assistant to Chris Hutchings at City and was promoted to player-caretaker manager when Hutchings was sacked after four months in charge.
Soon after McCall left to take up a coaching role at Sheffield United before returning to Valley Parade in 2007 as manager after stating in his autobiography that “one day in the distant future I would love to manage Bradford.” After a tough three years, the former midfielder left Valley Parade and eventually took charge at Scottish Premier League side Motherwell, leading them to a Scottish Cup final and a Champions League place after finishing third in 2011.
After leaving Motherwell in 2014, McCall also had a role as a member of the Scottish national team’s backroom staff and managed Rangers for a short time during the 2014/15 season.
Position: Central midfielder
Shirt number: 10
Starting appearances: 18
Gareth Whalley partnered Stuart McCall in the centre of the park for City in the 1999/00 Premier League season, although was in and out of the side. A box-to-box midfielder during his playing days, Whalley enjoyed a 15 year long professional footballing career in the English game, including six years with Crewe Alexandra during which he made 179 league appearances for the Cheshire club.
Whalley joined the Bantams in 1998 and subsequently turned out 103 times for Bradford City during his four year stay at the club. After leaving the Bantams in 2002, the former central midfielder had spells at Cardiff, Wigan Athletic and Swindon Town before finishing his playing career with Altrincham.
Gareth Whalley was appointed u18s Assistant Coach at Manchester City in July 2014, a position the former Bantam still holds.
Position: Left midfielder
Shirt number: 11
Starting appearances: 34
Remembered fondly for his trademark somersault celebration, Peter Beagrie joined the Bantams at the start of the 1997/98 season and spent four years at Valley Parade. Making 132 appearances in his time with the club, Beagrie was a member of the side that gained promotion to the Premier League in 1999.
Beagrie went on to score 40 times in the four seasons he spent at Valley Parade and started 34 times in all competitions during the 1999/00 Premier League campaign. Peter Beagrie further had long spells with Scunthorpe, Sheffield United, Everton and Manchester City as well as playing for five other English league teams.
Peter Beagrie is now known mostly for his work with Sky Sports and is primarily a pundit for their live Football League matches.
Position: Centre forward
Shirt number: 28
Starting appearances: 30
After joining Bradford from Portuguese giants Benfica, Dean Saunders became a key player for the Bantams during the 1999/00 Premier League campaign. Starting 30 matches that season; Saunders was partner in crime to Dean Windass, and was better known for his link up play with the Bantams rather than his goal scoring form.
The Welsh forward who scored 22 times for his country in 75 appearances, played for 12 teams during his career including Liverpool, Aston Villa and abroad with Benfica and Galatasaray making a total of 618 appearances, scoring 190 goals in the process.
After a lengthy playing career the former striker moved into management with his managerial career starting off with a three year spell at Wrexham from 2008 to 2011. Since then he has had managerial spells at Wolves, Doncaster, Crawley and most recently at Chesterfield. Currently without a club.
Position: Centre forward
Shirt number: 15
Starting appearances: 40
A real favourite at Valley Parade, Dean Windass played 40 times for the Bantams in the 1999/00 Premier League season. With goals against Arsenal, Leeds and Liverpool to name but a few, and a hat trick against Derby County in a thrilling 4-4 encounter, Windass was the main attacking threat for City during their survival campaign.
Joining the club initially for £950,000 at the start of the 1999 season from Oxford United, Dean Windass made a total of 142 appearances for the club over two spells, scoring 60 goals during his time at Valley Parade making him the club’s third highest all time goal scorer.
Since retiring from football in 2013, Dean Windass has taken up an ambassadorial role at Hull City and is also currently a columnist for the Hull Daily Mail and the Daily Star.
What about the others?
Matt Clarke – Matt Clarke appeared 38 times during his stay at Valley Parade between 1999 and 2001. His impressive displays for Bradford City led to many, including the City supporters, calling for him to receive international selection during his time with the Bantams. Clarke moved on to Crystal Palace in 2001 where a serious injury brought about his premature retirement aged just 31.
Aidan Davison – After making 61 appearances for the Bantams across three different spells, Aidan Davidson would go on to manage the reserve side at Hull City and have a spell managing American side FC Jax Destroyers. He is now the CEO of Aidan Davison Soccer Solutions, based in Florida.
John Dreyer – Signing in 1996 for a fee of £25,000, John Dreyer spent four seasons at Valley Parade making 80 appearances in the process. After retirement, Dreyer had spells managing Stevenage, Maidenhead United and a spell as caretaker manager at Preston in 2013.
Ashley Westwood – After making appearances for 12 different English football sides during his playing career, the former defender has gone on to become a manager. Westwood’s first managerial role was as player-manager at Kettering in 2012. He is now first team manager at I-League side Bengaluru FC in India.
Neil Redfern – Neil Redfearn played 790 matches in the Football League, the fifth highest total of all-time, and more than a thousand first team games overall in a career that has spanned 24 years. The former midfielder only played 17 times for Bradford, all during the 1999-2000 Premier League season. Since retiring he has gone on to manage several clubs including Leeds United and is currently managing Rotherham United.
Jorge Cadete – In what was his only spell with an English side, Jorge Cadete made seven appearances at Valley Parade whilst on loan from Portuguese side Benfica during the 1999-2000 Premier League campaign. Enjoying lengthy spells with Celtic and Sporting Lisbon during his career, Cadete hung up his boots in 2007. He made an appearance on Portugal’s version of Celebrity Big Brother in 2003.
Lee Sharpe – Spending most of his career at Manchester United, making 193 appearances for the Red Devils, Lee Sharpe had two spells at Bradford City. Joining initially on loan in 1999, a move that would turn permanent that summer, Lee Sharpe made a total of 56 appearances for the Bantams. After a spell in Iceland at the end of his career, Sharpe retired from the playing game in 2004. After football he made a string of reality television appearances, most notably in ‘Celebrity Love Island’ and had the part of an extra in Coronation Street.
Lee Mills – A prolific striker during his stay at Valley Parade, Lee Mills found the back of the net 29 times in 65 appearances. Mills became the Bantams first £1 million player when he signed from Port Vale in 1998 and helped his new side get promoted to the Premier League the following season. Lee Mills is now a football Coach for Telford College, Worcester Football Association and Chantry School in Worcester.
Robbie Blake – Having joined from Darlington for a fee of £300,000 quickly settled in at Valley Parade, scoring 16 goals in his first season with the club in the 1998-1999 Division One season. Blake would go on to make 153 appearances for the Bantams, scoring 40 goals during his stint with the club. Robbie Blake played for nine different sides during his career making over 500 appearances, before retiring.
Isiash Rankin – Former striker Isiah Rankin was signed by Bradford City from Arsenal in 2008 for a then club record fee of £1.3 million in 1998. The forward went on to make 37 appearances and scored six times for the Bantams during his spell with the club. Rankin had a spell as a coach at Arsenal after his retirement.
2 out of 3 of my favourite ever City players in that team. Beagrie and McCall with just the mighty Bobby Campbell splitting them at no 2 just behind Beags.
The squad that went up into the Premiership is my favourite of all time. I remember walking into VP on match days and wondering how many we’d win by – it never crossed my mind we’d lose a game that season after our slow start. Some great memories.
Oh happy days then, we too used to put bets on how many goals we would score.