What’s your favourite Valley Parade moment?

Premiership days 1

By Jason McKeown

On Thursday night this week, we’re hosting a special night at Valley Parade to celebrate the club’s return home 30 years ago, following a prolonged period of exile at Odsal stadium. A panel of guests including James Mason, Terry Dolan, Ian Ormondroyd, Simon Parker and John Dewhirst will reflect on the remarkable modern history of Bradford City, and why Valley Parade is so special to us supporters.

Tickets for the event are a bargain £5 (or £10 if you want pie and peas) and can be ordered from the Friends of BCFC website here.

BBC Radio Leeds will be broadcasting live before the event starts, so get there for 6pm if you can. Gareth Jones will be presenting the evening alongside Tom and Dom from Bantams Banter. We’re also hoping to confirm another couple of extra-special guests, so watch this space…

What’s your favourite Valley Parade moment?

Ahead of the night, I would genuinely love to know what you, valued reader of WOAP, consider to be your absolute favourite moment at Valley Parade. It could be a brilliant victory, a memorable performance, or a jaw-dropping goal. It might be special for your own unique reasons, such as the first time you took your kid to a match. Whatever moment stands out as your own favourite, I’d love to hear it.

Either leave a reader comment below, send an email to widthofapost@gmail.com or tweet us @thewidthofapost, using the hashtag #bestVPmoment

To get started here’s my own personal favourite…

Everyone stood up in preparation for the corner being swung over. We were ready to do our bit, trying to suck the ball into the net. At the opposite end of the field, the Valley Parade scoreboard told us there were just 13 minutes to go.

Gary Jones holds up his left arm in the air to give the signal, and fires over the corner. It reaches James Hanson in the middle of the penalty box, but he can only succeed in flicking the ball back in the direction it came. But Nahki Wells isn’t giving up on it, and races over to beat the defender to the ball, keeping the attack alive. We’re all still stood up.

To my left is my wife. She’s been coming to watch City with me for many years now – and has only really seen the bad times. We didn’t know each other in the Premier League years. Instead, she has had City forced on her through me, and has had to endure relegations, Peter Taylor football and home defeats to Accrington Stanley. She certainly hasn’t experienced many nights as good as this.

Wells plays the ball back to Jones. He takes a touch to trap the ball, looks up at the options in the box, and sends over a wicked cross.

To my right is Steve. He was stood next to me for my first ever City game, nearly two decades earlier, when the Kop was a terrace and where out teenage innocence helped us to instantly fall in love with Bradford City, upon first sight of entering Valley Parade. Since then we’d cheered City onto reaching the Premier League where they enjoyed plenty of heady moments like this. And then we’d stuck with the club through thin and thinner. The painful fall down the leagues, and all the crap that came with it. Others who used to go with us have long since given up, and we’d resigned ourselves into believing that moments like this would never happen again.

Jones’ cross is on the money. And the lime green shirts have failed to pick up Rory McArdle. He’s unmarked, level with the near post, and from his forehead the ball flies into the back of the net.

Cue ecstatic scenes.

“Valley Parade erupts, and the celebrations are manic everywhere you look. I’m hugging the wife. I’m hugging my friends. I’m hugging strangers. It is absolute bedlam. Unconfined joy. I was at Wolves in ’99, and here for Liverpool in ’00, but it feels like this moment – this goal – tops the lot of them as the best moment I’ve ever experienced supporting City.”

I wrote those words later that evening, after getting from an incredible match. Bradford City defeated Aston Villa 3-1 at Valley Parade, in the League Cup semi finals no less. It is a huge advantage to take into the second leg, and as the history books show the Bantams would complete the job.

And though Hanson’s goal at Villa Park in the second leg eclipsed everything, this goal by McArdle was my favourite moment I’ve ever experienced at Valley Parade. For the wonderful way the Northern Ireland international got free to head home, for the pace he gets on the header that gives Shay Given no chance, for the incredible scenes of celebration around a packed out Valley Parade, and for the fact the dream of City reaching a major cup final suddenly felt like a real possibility.

“It is the point where you dare to believe.”

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Gordon Watson’s epic 1998 stoppage time double against Barnsley was an unbelievable occasion, but for having gone through years of tough times for City and for getting to experience such a special moment with my wife and long-time friend, Rory McArdle’s goal against Aston Villa is my favourite-ever Valley Parade moment.

Please share yours below…

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Categories: Opinion

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49 replies

  1. Bournemouth, 1982 for me. I was 14, a team full of my heroes, end of an amazing season, and 2 opportunist goals from our main man, Sir Bobby Campbell.

  2. Can’t beat the Gordon Watson double for me. If anyone had scored it would have been unbelievable, but the fact that it was him after being out for so long with the broken leg seemed to add something. We were stood on The Kop, near the front that day. I seem to recall just running around like an idiot &

    literally jumping for joy. Fantastic scenes

  3. Gordon Watson was a great moment for so many reasons, Everton win in League Cup in 88 was my first experience of a special VP night but I have a very personal favourite. Boro at home playoff first leg in 88, I was 10 at the time and remember my dad sitting me on the barrier towards the back of the Kop, it seemed dark where we were but the pitch was bathed in sunlight, the contrast was so stark yet beautiful, it had nothing to do with the game itself it’s just a perfect moment in time that my mind has chosen to recall forever, a memory that gives you one of those warm happy feelings knowing it’s unique to me.

  4. General Election evening 1997 for me and Nigel Pepper’s headed goal against Charlton Athletic. Everyone remembers the QPR game a few days later, but this was one of the best atmospheres I’ve witnessed at VP, the crowd really were the ’12th man’ that night.

  5. I’d go for a moment in the Villa game as well, but a different one. Weimann’s goal had brought us back to reality, and we’d never hold on to a one goal lead at Villa Park, but we can still win this game at least, we’ve got a corner. The sensible thing to do would be to keep the ball there, as far away from our goal as possible, but Jones swings it over, McHugh buries the header and we’re dreaming again.

    • Can I have two?

      It’s 1975 i’m 6 and finally persuaded my dad he should take his daughter. Not many women on the terraces then! We see City vs Crewe in the fourth division. Not a classic but fell in love and never looked back.

      The other, another great cup game now fading into history. City had gone to Ipswich Town when they were flying high in Europe. Bobby Robson is manager and along with great British players like Marriner and Mills there are the exotic new foreign imports including Thysson. Amazingly lowly city hold them to a draw and a replay under the lights beckons! We lose 3-2 but what a game amazing goals, end to end football, great wing play, great atmosphere (who remembers the metal advertising hoardings on the Midland Road that created a cauldron of noise when they were brayed on by 100s of fans) and almost pulled it off. Taught me that sometimes you don’t need to win to come away buzzing.

  6. Michael Proctor’s injury time equaliser after city were reduced to 10 men in the first half then 9 after half time, as we went 2-1 down against Burnley in 2002 I think?

    Burnett spent the last 15 mins playing keep ball but deep in injury time I remember someone was caught in possession or misplaced a pass and Jorgensen I think was through on goal, his shot hit the post and went wide – that had to be it you thought, chance gone. But somehow he managed to keep it in and crossed low to the far post where Proctor slammed it in and saw some of the most ridiculous celebrations encountered, maybe only topped by the Hanson header against Leeds.

  7. Nigel Pepper’s free kick vs QPR to keep us up in the Championship (then called league 1) in 1997. I was a bag of nerves before the seasons final ‘do or die’ game. The ferocity behind the shot and seeing the goal explode was something else. I could hardly breath when the goal went in and my specs went flying off. I must have moved 6 rows with the goal celebration/melee, shared with family and close friends. Epic. What I would give to stand in the Kop like we did then.

    Pitch invasion at the final whistle, and we basked in the sun, in what turned out to be a day we’d never forgot. I still think its games like this which change the course of history. Would we have got promoted two years later if we hadn’t won against QPR and stayed up?

    • Yes this game stands out for me too. Glorious sunny afternoon. Great big crowd and everything resting on the result. Pepper got two goals didn’t he? Seem to remember score being 3-2?
      Who was the winger who played for us that game?Blonde hair, think he was on loan. Great crossing from him during the last few games I think helped us stay up.

  8. I agree with QPR. , but the Charlton game tops everything for me. Charlton gave it everything, but City won. It was the most exciting game of football I have seen in over 65 years.

  9. My favourite moment lasted two minutes, just over two years ago. It began with Knott and ended with Hanson.

    • mine too 😂😂

    • One of my favourite things about that night was just before those two minutes; the crowd reaction to conceding the goal was amazing. Heads never dropped (at least not around where I was) and it always felt like we could still do it and it was brilliant when we did.

  10. Gordon Watson vs Barnsley for me.
    Unbelievable scenes on the old standing kop. The moment when we knew that the 98/99 season was going to be special and even fans of an older generation struggle to remember goal celebrations like those.

    • Same for me. You could see Barnsley freeze when Gordon Watson came on as sub. He terrified the living day lights out of them. He transformed a game that looked beyond us. As you say, unbelievable scenes on the Kop. I’ll never forget that day, even though we had other memorable wins against more illustrious opponents.

  11. Didn’t we beat QPR 3-0? Was the blonde player Sundgot? Can’t think who played out wide that game, Tommy Wright on one wing I think, can’t recall who played on the other.

  12. I’d have to say beating Leeds a couple of years ago. The whole narrative of being looked down upon by them. That we hadn’t beaten them in forever. Even in recent ties as a lower league team we had played above ourselves but always come up short. The always just seemed to have the luck in their favour and honestly they didn’t deserve it.
    Even during the match they seemed to have got away with it again, despite being down to 10 men we just couldn’t score but Leeds did, right at the end as well. It all felt so unfair again. We’d played so well and controlled the whole game so it was coming from such a low place hunched over with my head in my hands cursing their luck and having that whole weight of local history on our shoulders and the gloating from the Leeds fans the response of the next 4 minutes was unbelievable. I love the fact that between going 1-0 up to 2-1 down Leeds only touched the ball about 5 times.

  13. the WINNER against l666s of course 😎⚽⚽⚽

  14. WOAP reader Tony Walmsley has emailed us his favourite VP moment, writing, “Tottenham FAC Round 3..1989..my Londoner girlfriend at the time was at on a Full time degree at Bradford College and had adopted City as her team…her sister and sister’s boyfriend were ardant Spurs fans and came up for the match..we were in the Kop and they were in the Bradford end for away fans. City pulled off a brilliant 1-0 win against Chris Waddle and company..fantastic atmosphere and result. my wife – who i met a year later in 1990 is a Bradfordian..but sadly doesn’t like football..we now live in Cheshire but just took my 7 year old son to his first ever matches v Coventry and Sheff United.”

  15. Some terrific responses on Twitter too, which you can see here: https://twitter.com/TheWidthofaPost/status/792667695208468480

  16. Beating Chelsea 2-0 at home.
    Unfortunately it convinced us we belonged in the Premiership – brilliant performance against a “big” club – and I didn’t think being a City fan could get any better – until we beat them again int’ cup (“can we play you every week?”)

  17. Someone has mentioned this game already but to be more specific – Leigh Palin with the 3rd goal v Everton in 1989 – Rumbelows(?) Cup. Stuart McCall on the Everton side – may have scored their goal. “Palin going in, it’s a wonderful goal on a wonderful night for Bradford City”. 3-1 City.

  18. Since watching City since 1966 there have been many memorable moments and some not quite so memorable. One great performance always stands out for me and that was in Terry Dolans nearly season in 1987/88. We played Middlesbrough in the league ,City were top at the time and Middlesbrough were a close rival. City played some fantastic football in that game and after battering them we finally took the lead in the 2nd half with a Leonard header but it was the 2nd goal soon after that stands out for me. A young Stuart McCall won the ball in his own half ,he then took the ball downfield and slipped it to Leigh Palin he beat a couple of Boro players in the box before planting the ball past Stephen Pears in the Boro goal. It was a fantastic goal to round off an unbelievable performance. Always remember a comment my friend in the Kop saying to me just after, “this is the best football City have played -ever” and he wasn’t far wrong. Sadly Boro were to knock us out of the playoffs at the end of that season but that league game will not be forgotten.

  19. Beating Arsenal!! A fantastic night! Great memories!

  20. Sorry Jason, hope you don’t mind, but I’m stretching your invitation to my three special Valley Parade moments:

    WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN? Aged 14, packed into the Bradford end of the ground; the date: Saturday 20 February, 1960; the match: 5th round FA Cup tie against Burnley, the team who will become Football League Champions later that season; the time 4.30pm; the score: City leading Burnley 2-0. The pressure from Burnley to come back is intense and unremitting. Bobby Webb breaks clear and hoists the ball out of the ground over the main stand. The 26,000 plus crowd is biting its collective nails. City are 12 minutes away from a historic victory…. But the pressure is just too great. Burnley score twice, the second in the last minute of injury time and we have to settle for a disappointing draw. (The following Wednesday the City support crosses the Pennines. Many don’t make it as the roads are jammed. Those that do swell the Burnley crowd to over 52,000! We get hammered 5-0.) But how close we were and what might have been!

    THE UNBELIEVABLE Aged 15, waiting for the bus in Saltaire after school; the date: Wednesday 2 November 1960; the match: our first ever Football League Cup game, which kicked off at 2.45pm (** on a Wednesday afternoon!!); the time now: 4.45pm. It’s pouring down. It’s been raining all day. I ask the conductress if she knows the City score. She smiles broadly…”2-1 to City”. I can’t believe it. We’ve only gone and beaten Manchester United in our first ever League Cup game – Harry Gregg and the rest, watched by 4,670 in the pouring rain at Valley Parade. Man Utd stay out of the League Cup for the next six seasons. The following day the Daily Express reporter introduces his report of the upset with the following “The programme notes said that much water had flown under the bridge since the two teams had last met…. I swear most of it had stayed on the pitch! ”

    THE MOST GLORIOUS NIGHT OF THE YEAR Fast forward to aged 55, high up at the back of the Kop with my friend David, a long-suffering Chelsea supporter, visiting West Yorkshire for a few days; the date: Tuesday 22 August 2000; the match: our first home game of what turns out to be our relegation season; the time: 9.35pm. I am stunned, hoarse, absolutely shattered by what I have just seen, trying hard not to gloat (and failing) in front of my friend, having just witnessed what I can only describe as the most perfect, idyllic performance I have ever seen from City at Valley Parade as they shredded Chelsea 2-0 through goals by Dean Windass and the absolutely brilliant (that night at least, on his first appearance) Benito Carbone. Three games later Chelsea manager, Gianluca Vialli is sacked…. The pain that season still sears, but that night’s glorious performance lives forever.

  21. 1987 back at VP v Hull City pegged back in our own half for some time after going ahead then fantastic goal from John Hendrie

  22. With my son in January 87 in an FA Cup replay.
    A very good Oldham side managed by Joe Royle .

    Stuffed them 5 – 1 on an icy pitch .

    Sticks x 2
    Johnny Hendrie x 2
    Mega x 1

    Royle moaned ( afterwards ) that pitch unfit .

    Start of a great run which to took us away from the relegation zone and ( almost ) into the top division next season !

    • Mine too. That replay came a few weeks after the sacking of Trevor Cherry and not long after our return to VP.
      After a battling 1-1 draw on the plastic pitch at Boundary Park, I doubt many City fans were expecting the demolition of Oldham. It was the start of a memorable turn around in fortunes under Dolan.

      • I remember it vividly. A ‘Sticks’ hat trick on a very, very cold night at VP, with snow on the terraces and the outskirt of the pitch. I was sat in the main stand in the block nearest the away fans in the Bfd end. An elderly couple of ‘Latics fans were sat in front of me. They were just pouring a warming drink at half time from a flask when a snowball thrown from their fellow fans arrived and landed smack bang in the cup of their beverage. I even ‘invaded’ the pitch on full time to congratulate Sticks, sure it was either his debut at VP or a very early appearance?

        Further vivid memories I’ll never forget are from the infamous Derby County game from a couple of seasons before. Firstly because of Don Goodman destroying an ageing Kenny Burns for pace before scoring. Secondly because of the 100 or so Derby County fans that thought they’d cause some trouble by illegally entering the home seating before kick off and provoke our own supporters in the main stand. I expect they thought it was very ‘big and clever’, but once they’d entered the ground they soon realised they’d made a terrible mistake and they were vastly outnumbered. I’ve never seen a group of fans look so relieved when the police arrived to prevent them receiving even more of a leathering.

  23. The Arsenal game for me, I was too young to remember the Watson vs Barnsley game unfortunately. Just the build up to the Arsenal game was amazing, freezing cold, hard and bobbly pitch, you could just tell that Arsenal wouldn’t like it. The scenes when Thompson thumped it into the roof of the net was simply epic. Cue the pressure from them, we defended so well.

    A game that I remember vividly is the Port Vale home game in 13/14. We hadn’t won for nearly half a season, we get a corner delivered on the money by Jones for McHugh to rise highest and secure a last minute 1-0 win, a goal so similar to his against Villa at VP another special moment.

  24. The memories that stand out for me are Wetherall’s goal against Liverool.

    Cup win over Leeds

    Penalty shoot-out against Arsenal.

    McHugh’s header against Villa, scoring against his hero in Shay Given magic.

    One of the best goals seen at City Paul Scholes volley wow

  25. Goodness me, so many happy memories being shared above, I was lucky enough to be at the vast majority of these games, apart from the Burnley & Man United games in the early 60’s.

    There are so many happy memories of games at VP, it is hard to pick a particular favourite, but here is a brief description of a few:

    City 5 Brentford 4 – a real see-saw game with Brentford being in front by a two goal margin a couple of times, but City winning through on the end, this was the 84/85 promotion season, what a team we had then.

    City 2 Chelsea 0 – this is still probably the finest City home victory I have ever seen, we were tremendous that night, such a shame that the season ended as it did.

    City 2 Arsenal 1 – Windass outfoxing Seaman with a quickly taken free kick, Dean Saunders scoring the winner, sandwiched by an absolutely brilliant goal by Henry

    City 3 Burton 2 – League Cup, we were trailing 2- 0 for ages at a sodden VP, and looking down and out, Darby scoring the winner, who would have thought when 2-0 down that a Wembley place was on the horizon

    City 8 Bournemouth 1 or 2, – can’t quite remember, only relevant for the fact that is the highest number of goals that I have seen city score in a home league game

    City 0 Man United 4 – memorable for having the best goal I have ever seen scored at VP, by Paul Scholes

    City 2 Ipswich 3 – the last league game of the nearly season, no other words are necessary

    Of course there are all the other games previously mentioned, cup games, relegation escapes, promotion clinching games, great goals, great saves, howlers, referees, good bad, indifferent, and completely useless to moan about, it’s just a shame that I can’t recall more, but what I do know is that I wouldn’t have missed any of them for the world.

    • The Brentford game was my first game at VP – what a start to my City supporting career!

      • … and I didn’t want to mention the Ipswich game – but for me that match, for all the wrong reasons, is the most memorable (excepting Lincoln of course)

  26. 27th August 1980 Liverpool at home, my first experience of a City cup giant killing – even though it was 2 legs & we lost 4-0 at Anfield. 16,000 packed into Valley Parade, I was stood in the paddock next to the kop 10 years old. City get a free kick just outside the area, Terry Dolan strikes it, its saved, or does it hit the post I couldn’t see, and then Bobby Campbell pops up and sticks it away and I’m engulfed by people above me and below me, it’s complete dilerium. I’ve experienced so many highs and lows, but at the time Liverpool were THE TEAM full of internationals and league & cup winners and we were, well, just little old Bradford. Nothing’s ever topped that feeling as a small boy seeing old men truly disbilieving what was happening in front of them

  27. A few of my highlights:
    The 5-4 Brentford game from the 84/85 season (already mentioned) plus the 3-2 win over Burnley the same season.
    The England XI game at the new VP. After spending so long away it was an emotional return. Capped by a memorable goal by Frank Worthington
    The 1-0 (?) win over Notts County(?) in 95/96 season. The game itself and result were instantly forgetable. It was played in front of just over 3,000 fans. What was memorable was that this game was chosen to announce the building of a new Midland Road stand. Those of us in the crowd, for what seemed a dead rubber as we sat in mid-table, could scarcely believe the club could fill the (then) 15,000 capacity. Let alone an extra stand. But we went on an amazing run, made the play-offs, beat Blackpool and make our first Wembley appearence in front of ten times the number that were there that night.
    Beating Newcastle 2-0 in our first season in the PL. The atomsphere in the stadium was one I’ll never forget.

  28. For me it has to be the League Cup victory over reigning league champions Everton. 3-1 that night and all 3 goals were well taken. A certain Stuart McCall playing for the opposition that night wonderful memories indeed

  29. For me it’s Bobby’s double against Bournemouth in 1982. My memory of the 2nd goal was that he hit it like a bullet into the bottom corner, however, having seen the goals years later it’s a bobble on a bone dry pitch that actually makes it a goal. But, still it was an amazing day, a player that sums up BCAFC and a great pitch invasion to match. Best VP day for me.

  30. Wow, so many great memories…I first went to VP in April 84 and saw many of the memories and matches already listed first hand….my favourite though has to be more recent when my eldest son was one of the mascots for the match v Leyton Orient in Nov. 2014. He walked out with Billy Knott after meeting PP. We won 3-1; great memory for me.

  31. One particular goal that sticks in the memory is from the early 1970’s in a home game against Barnsley. With only minutes left and City attacking the Bradford end Bruce Bannister scores with an overhead kick to win the game , cue bedlam. In those days Barnsley were our biggest local rivals and to score such a dramatic winner was something really special

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