10 disappointments about Bradford City’s 2017/18 season

Image by Thomas Gadd

By Jason McKeown

1) Home defeats

It seems incredible to believe now, but before August’s 1-0 home defeat to Blackburn, Bradford City were unbeaten in 31 Valley Parade league games. They had also gone 23 months without a Saturday afternoon home loss. The ugly, scrappy victory by Blackburn was followed by a further nine City defeats on their own turf, leaving them with the 15th-best home record in League One, down from 5th a year before.

The atmosphere at Valley Parade has been disappointing for so much of the campaign. The place used to be rocking. But there is simply no belief in the team to overcome set backs, with many walking out long before the final whistle on multiple occasions.

Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw with Walsall was the first time all season City have recovered from a losing position to earn something. It’s not been all bad – Bristol Rovers, Rochdale and Oxford were memorable victories – but all too often the form at Valley Parade was pretty dismal.

2) Poor summer recruitment

Every debate about Bradford City’s shortcomings this season has to begin in the summer. But perhaps more accurately, the close season was the point where we realised the damage had been done. After all, every argument about whether the club could have done more to keep James Meredith, Mark Marshall, Rory McArdle and even Stephen Darby overlooks one key lesson that, ironically, the club have actually taken on board this season.

Why were their contracts allowed to be run down in the first place? It left the club in a vulnerable position post-Wembley; where many of their best players departed, with no financial compensation. City were probably never going to keep everybody, but lost too many during the summer. And that left some gaping holes over the 2017/18 season.

Especially because the recruitment activity proved mixed at best. Man for man, it was hard to make a case that City had improved a single area of the team. Worse still, they were worse off in key positions. Money was spent, but the club’s strategy of targeting younger players, with a future resale value, narrowed the options and provided the first sign of conflicting priorities: to build for the future, or to go all out for promotion?

The values changed too. Out was the Phil Parkinson philosophy of character overriding ability, and ensuring City were packed full of players who could cope with a demanding Valley Parade crowd. No one doubts Jake Reeves, Dominic Poleon and Shay McCartan were hungry and full of desire to prove themselves, but signing for Bradford City was a big step up. The pressure clearly got to them, and an investment of around £400k in transfer fees has so far gone to waste.

It all left a squad lacking in depth and experience, leading to a huge reliance on key individuals to deliver. Charlie Wyke was head and shoulders better than any other striker on the books, causing huge problems on occasions he wasn’t available. Romain Vincelot’s experience in the middle of the park offered a calming presence to edgy, younger minds, before his form dropped off. Without a left-sided central defender, Matt Kilgallon’s leadership at the back was vital in supporting Nat Knight-Percival playing on his wrong side. Colin Doyle’s superiority in goal led to regular dashes back from international duty with Republic of Ireland.

Not every summer signing was poor. Paul Taylor was a joy to watch, providing some memorable goals. Adam Chicksen looks a decent player, unfortunate with injuries. Tyrell Robinson – signed just before Wembley at the end of last season – seems a real talent. But ultimately, City just weren’t as strong as the season before.

3) January misjudgements

Edin Rahic’s last proper interview with the T&A hasn’t aged well. In January he talked up the Bantams top-two chances. “It’s about proper recruitment and supporting what Stuart is doing with the team in terms of getting the best out of the players and as a team we all believe in this together.”

Unfortunately, hindsight suggests that January did not see “proper recruitment”. City went into the transfer window in fifth place, comfortably inside the play offs, but very evidently lacking in strength and depth. There was an expectation of serious business from City, stoked up by a public bid for Kieffer Moore. But very little happened for weeks, with the urgency to strengthen heighted by the team’s collapse in form.

Stuart McCall went through January without a senior full back available, and was stuck between two back-up goalkeepers – neither of whom were good enough. Charlie Wyke was injured again, and the lack of alternative options saw Knight-Percival thrust up front. Just before the window closed, some decent signings were belatedly made. But it wasn’t enough for what was needed, especially in attack.

The January talk of competing for the top two suggests a misguided internal belief that the squad was better than it was. Simon Grayson has declared he would have strengthened the squad more had he been in charge at the time, ignoring the reality that the transfer committee was dictating the approach. But certainly an addition of a Luke Hendrie, a Kristian Dennis and a better number two goalkeeper could have made a huge difference.

Finally, there was arguably a misjudgement of what other League One clubs would do. All our promotion rivals strengthened, even the likes of promotion certainties Wigan and Blackburn. City’s window activity wasn’t enough to keep up with their peers, when we all hoped it would give us the edge.

Image by Thomas Gadd (copyright Bradford City)

4) Sacking Stuart McCall

There is little more to say about the rights and wrongs of McCall’s dismissal, but even his most ardent critic will struggle to present a credible argument that the decision to sack him worked out. McCall was not perfect, but the frustration at the time – and now – remains that collective failings were behind the club’s slump in form. To single out the manager, and believe swapping him would solve the downturn, has proven misguided.

Worse still is the backlash sacking McCall created. Whilst a minority of fans were calling for McCall to go, most remained right behind him and believed that, at worst, he deserved more time. The January recruitment and injury issues, the fact he had the best managerial win ratio for 30 years, not to mention City still being in the play offs, afforded him the chance to address the first bad run of form since his return, 19 months earlier. A decision was made that the majority of fans disagreed with, and that made it a huge, huge call that you either get right or are heavily criticised for.

“We had to apply the brake” was Stefan Rupp’s justification, adding he and Rahic’s belief was a change would give City a better chance of reaching the play offs. Obviously, that didn’t happen. Even after recruiting their number one target, Grayson, to replace McCall.

McCall’s record earned him the right to fail, and – if needed – to bow out this summer, his contract not renewed. Sacking him put huge pressure on the owners, which they failed to deal with. And it has given momentum to an anti-owner feeling that has grown and grown.

5) Racism

In a city like Bradford, and a club like Bradford City, racism should never be tolerated. The players and non-playing staff have a responsibility to live up to this basic value at all times; anyone who doesn’t should be shown the door. As supporters, we also have a big role to play.

Edin Rahic has merited criticism, but some of the constructive comments directed towards him have been overshadowed by a flurry of racist comments about his German heritage. It has clearly hurt the chairman to receive such mindless abuse, fuelling his own disappointment in all Bradford City supporters.

Rahic and Stefan Rupp’s background should play absolutely no part in how they judged – and shame on anyone who has used it as a reason to attack them. We live in strange times of Brexit and Donald Trump, which is fuelling a Little Englander attitude that sadly seems to extent to Bradford. Whilst, undoubtedly, Rahic and Rupp’s heritage has caused them to go on a steep learning curve in understanding the culture and history of Bradford City, you shouldn’t have to be from Bradford to be considered able to understand the club.

Germans have actually played a key role in Bradford’s history. In the city’s Victorian heyday, it was a leading global economic player due to its wool trade. And around 1,500 Germans settled in the city. They brought with them the contacts, expertise and know-how to sell Bradford’s wool products around the world, helping to make the city rich. They settled in the area now known as Little Germany, and their reluctant departure from the city – when the Great War broke out in 1914 – was a contributory factor in Bradford’s economic decline.

Rahic and Rupp’s German and European background should be a positive, and their different way of thinking, married up with Bradford’s values of hard work, could in theory prove be a potent combination.

Racism is unacceptable. End of. And anyone who attacks the owners in a racist or xenophobic way should be strongly condemned. They are making us all look very bad.

6) The lack of leadership

Not that the above is an excuse for the owners’ absent leadership during these tough times. It’s not just going through a period of not attending games, but Edin Rahic’s lack of public comments in the wake of City’s season collapsing won’t be quickly forgotten. At a time when strong direction and positivity was needed, and a wider understanding of the overall strategy essential, the silence has been deafening.

Rahic’s lack of leadership from the front has left him wide open to huge swathes of criticism. He remains liked and supported by a section of City supporters, which gives him something to build on, but it shouldn’t be solely their job to defend what to others feels like the indefensible. Rahic will be criticised for what he says in public, like his questionable performance at the March fans forum. He cannot control the debate, but he can positively influence the way he is judged.

Be humble. Admit you’re on a learning curve (who wouldn’t be, in his shoes?) and paint a vision of the future that we can buy into. Stefan Rupp’s apology at the player of the season award’s night was a great start, and kudos to him for that. But I think a lot of fans would like one from Rahic too. After all, Rupp is basically a silent partner, not responsible for the day to day running of the club.

The reality for every Bradford City chairman in the club’s history – for every chairman in the land, for that matter – is that you’re going to be criticised for what you do and don’t do. People will have unfair expectations of what you should be doing. You will be blamed for someone else’s mistakes. But strong leadership is about accepting and embracing such pressure. About leading from the front.

7) The players downing tools

Of course, Rahic cannot be solely blamed for the dismal second half to Bradford City’s season, even if he is seemingly the catalyst for much of the disgruntlement expressed by the players.

For three months, a decent-but-limited side seemingly downed tools. They stopped playing for whoever was the manager, which means they ultimately stopped playing for the club. Their grievances may start to come out more publically during the summer, as they move on to pastures new and seek to justify their poor form. But as fans, we were the people who suffered most from their collapse. It hurts to watch players looking like they don’t care.

This is a club that in recent years has been driven by Gary Jones, Rory McArdle, Stephen Darby and James Meredith. Groups of players who gave everything to the cause, who will be long remembered and celebrated for what they achieved. The current lot didn’t wake up until the loud blast of criticism that followed the 5-0 humbling to Blackpool, and even after they did start to recover, seemed a little prematurely pleased with themselves for winning a couple of games. And that has only added to the frustrations we supporters feel.

I’m not a fan of player-bashing. It seems too easy and is often unfair. But this group of players have left us short-changed over the second half of the season. There won’t be much sadness if most of them leave.

8) Dominic Poleon’s misses

19 minutes into the second league match of Bradford City’s season, at Gillingham, Poleon finished smartly from an Alex Jones cross to net what proved to be the winning goal. Just before half time on the same afternoon, Poleon rounded the goalkeeper and yet somehow missed an open goal. A 45-minute personal performance that set the tone for his season.

When on form, Poleon is a good player at this level. He plays with an intensity, harasses defenders, runs at people and causes lots of problems. Poleon’s flaw is that he cannot sustain this level of performance, and too often has looked very ordinary.

And the misses have stacked up, especially one-on-ones. He has netted seven goals this season, but probably should be pushing 15. His one-yard miss at home to Southend on Saturday summed up his failings.

“How did he miss?” A question that has been asked to often of Poleon this season.

9) The anti-Bantams Family movement

Whilst the last few home games have been sparely attended, this was the season of a record number of season ticket holders – and in that respect, the club has never been as big. But progress has its growing pains, and for parts of the season there was an unwelcoming tone directed towards more newly acquired fans, and to those who have become more engaged with following the club.

That has particularly manifested itself during away games where – just like at Valley Parade – the atmosphere amongst City supporters has dipped. The blame for this has been squared at families, who have begun to follow City on the road in larger numbers. Only they don’t want to stand for 90 minutes, complain if the person in front is standing and blocking their view, and they are less likely to join in with chanting.

For those who follow City all over the country, the dampening of the atmosphere – and of having to sit down because they’re blocking other people’s view – has led to a backlash towards the club’s Bantams Family mantra. And vocal demands, on social media, of the “Bantams Family” to not go to away games. For the recent trip to Blackburn, one supporter told me via Twitter that I was not welcome unless I was prepared to stand all game. As it happens, I was more than happy to. But that’s not really the point.

As a supporter of 20 years, I find this whole thing a bit sad. I’ve spent many years travelling to most away games in a season, and love to stand even in seating areas. There is also nothing worse than travelling half way across the country to sit in near silence. But equally, I’m now a dad with a four-year-old who enjoys coming to games, and I find the idea that we are not welcome by some people contrary to the values of the club.

I wish there was a sensible approach taken to away games. If only we as fans could pick where we sit, like at home games, you could have the first few rows of the away end reserved for families and people who don’t want to stand up, and those who do could select seats further back. Of course, clubs and/or authorities won’t ever adopt such an approach. It’s too much effort, and having the hardcore standers placed together could cause issues. But the clashes between City supporters, which are occurring too often at away games, are no fun for anyone. Supporters who have adopted a more positive stance in adversity, and continued to cheer on the team when others feel we should all turn our backs, have also been attacked on social media.

City will never be such a big club that we can afford to be choosy and alienate groups of fans. And the Bantams Family mantra is not new. When I first started following the club under the Geoffrey Richmond years, he often marketed the tagline that Bradford City was “the family club”.

As a community of passionate individuals, we never agree on everything and debate is healthy. But I don’t enjoy seeing some fans openly slating others. It’s never going to end well.

10) The mood

As Bradford City fans we’ve had it bad – a lot worse – than a season missing out on the play offs. Yet in some ways the mood amongst fans is as dark as it has ever been about on the field matters. Even long-time City fans, who have supported the club for decades, tell me they can’t remember this level of negativity.

We see not only more recent, less committed fans turning their backs on the club, but long-time supporters vowing not to go to the final few games or even failing to renew their season tickets. Renewals are down by a third. People feel very strongly about what has happened, and with a tricky summer ahead the mood may get worse.

Hopefully we can all return in August feeling refreshed, reenergised and reassured. And the 2018/19 season will prove a much happier tale than the disappointing way this campaign turned out.

Coming soon on Width of a Post – the five positives of the 2017/18 season

Categories: 2017/18 season review, Opinion

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18 replies

  1. Good article Jason. One pertinent point as a lesson from history. The Bradford City chairman during our Golden Age when we were a force in the land and FA Cup Winners was one Wilhelm (William ) Pollock. Born in Germany. There was also German money behind the club also as Pollocks business friends supported the club.

    As regards leadership, i was wondering with Stefan Rupp being based in Germany, whether Edin Rahic has got slightly carried away with his micromanaging and Rupp has decided to rein him in a bit. His speech at the POTY dinner looked like him wanting to protect his reputation from further damage and start to seek some redemption with fans. Just a thought.

    • Cant argue with any of this article. Spot on Jason. The German population pre WW1 was less than 500. If any fans are unaware of the impact the German woolmerchants have had on the city of Bradford then read Little Gemany A History of Bradfords Germans by Susan Neuman-Duxbury.

  2. Good article as always Jason but I would have ended one other disappointment – the mismanagement of our PR.

    I’d always thought that our PR was reasonably good but this year has felt like a car crash. There are some fairly obvious examples – like the fans forum – but many, many others.

    For example – postponing a game 90 minutes before kick-off and then admitting we could have called it off at 9am (and not saying sorry!), asking for pictures of big City fans for the programme just after sacking Stuart, that cringe-worthy video with James Mason at the bus-stop, sacking the guy who played the music at VP, Omari Patrick’s “HaHaHa” at fans post Blackpool….

    In better times we might just have laughed these things off but this year they have served to continue the feeling of a club being completely disconnected with its fans.

    I’m looking forward to your article about 5 positives because other than Tyrell Robinson I’m really struggling. Hopefully you can help cheer me up !

    • Whilst being a big fan of Twitter it has to be very carefully utilised when it comes to the club and players as it’s very easy to have well intentioned tweets misinterpreted, which sadly has happened. Hopefully this year has identified many improvement opportunities, which will be addressed for next season.

  3. We’ve disagreed a few times on here Jason, but big raps for that piece. A fair and balanced summary of the year. I echo number 9, the anti bantams family. I was swore at at Doncaster for asking someone to sit down, if it hadn’t have been for the risk of upset to my daughter, he would have got banjoed. Three times we had to move to different seats there, and again at Blackburn we moved seats despite arriving early and picking not the best view, someone decided to stand right in front of the young one. It is stemming from a minority online namely two to three plonkers, but then again that’s all it needs sometimes.
    As for the rest of the article I’m sure it echoes most fans thoughts, hopefully now having admitted mistakes, everyone can rally around and move on and stop the criticism of every little thing. Whilst it’s easy to use these balls ups from the owners as a stick to beat them with, it’s often overlooked what a good job they are doing in areas that are often neglected. The website, ticket office and club shop have or will be upgraded, the pitch is inline for an massive overall, the youth side of the club is starting to bear fruit. None of this should go unnoticed, these have probably eaten in the playing budget but we’re in all reality a necessity and needed to be done.
    Let’s hope next year is a new start for all, lessons learned for all, and a real good go is made. Up the chickens

  4. Hello Jason
    Great read as always…..
    Being an exiled fan based in the UAE, i’ve been following this seasons events from afar. However been back in Bradford for the last 2 home games it’s become very clear all is not well. Many of my friends are not going to games and more importantly not renewing their season tickets, when I question them on this all the comments are the same, not whilst the current Chairman own the club…… as they feel they’re sucking the lifeblood out of the club….. whatever happend at “Yeovil” has totally de-railed the season, full disclosure of the details are yet to come out only when the truth regarding the goings on that day will we get to the bottom of this seasons short comings…..!!
    Just for the record if I was at the POTY Awards I would of asked the question directly to Mr Rupp……!!
    Also the Tony Mac situation is totally baffling! He’s out the picture for around a month with injury sited as the reason along with the bid from Scunthorpe again the several rumors regarding this are open to debate, following on from the transfer widow closing & new manager in place bang Tony’s back not only that but Vincelot’s stripped of the captaincy and the armband goes to Tony Mac.
    This I find puzzling in my memory of following City i’ve never know this to happen before…..
    Tony Mac for me is one player who downed tools during this period, why given the fact that Killer was nailed on for the armband didn’t he get it……!! & finally Charlie Wyke the lad seems to have given up, I cannot see him at the club when we kick off again after the World Cup, his body language on Tuesday gave him away, we have got Zero chance of him extending his contract now with only a year left. I’m not sure we have an additional years option we could activate come the end of next season, But that’s the only way he’ll be in a city shirt come August…..!! It’s going to take another mamouth task in getting the club back on track and with 14 or so players still have under contract it’s not going to be easy to change things up…… Both Chairman have a huge task on their hands for next season and their intentions will become apparnat by the end of next week….. SG is the man for the job IMO however he will require a huge budget hopefully the pockets run deep in Boardroom at VP.
    Also one final note can anybody shed any light on to what’s happened to James Mason…..?

  5. Good summary, Jason. I think it sums up how things have panned out over the past twelve months. There’s a few things I wouldn’t quite agree with but understand the alternate viewpoint. Looking forward to the positivity article and hope that includes Simon Grayson’s new contract.

    A point I’d agree with is No.9 regarding the Bantams Family ridicule. Social media will no doubt respond in its usual ways but I find the backlash that the campaign has received utterly bizarre. I think some are taking it far too seriously. It is simply a marketing tool, and a good one at that, which opens the club out to the family audience that you so rightly mention. I too became hooked on football as part of the Richmond family club era where family sections were a hit. Bantams Family is a family section for the modern, digital era and James Mason has been right to target it because it helps the next generation of fans become hooked like we all did. Maybe a return of family sections and hopefully standing sections in the near future will help towards a happy medium.

    Do I think that Bantams Family has had an effect on the atmosphere at matches? Possibly but that would only be down to the vocal supporters directing their voices towards the campaign. But ultimately, developments on the field have effected the atmosphere more. When quality, effort and results return on the field, so will that special atmosphere.

  6. Great summary of the season. However, I am disappointed with the manner in which Poleon’s failings were highlighted. Why him in particular for special mention with a whole section of the article focused on him?

    • Hi Phil

      I take your point. I guess for me (and the reason I wrote complimentary things about him too) is that Poleon feels like the biggest under-achiever. No one misses on purpose, but there’s just been a lot of frustration that at big moments in the season we’ve missed big chances, and Poloen has missed more than most. His stoppage time miss at Oldham for example. Had he done better, Stuart McCall might not have been sacked 2 days later.

      I’m always acutely aware that the WOAP audience is very pro-player, relative to other City groups, so I guess your criticism isn’t a surprise. Thanks for sharing it.

      • Hi Jason, thank you for your response,much appreciated. I agree that he was a disappointment and I just feel he was one of many who let the club and themselves down.

      • After all has been said and done, we have finished where we deserved to. We have an average budget and average players.

        After all the negativity, our owners need to come back strong and show all fans they mean business. By this I mean coming good on promises of a couple/ several quality signings.

        On the whole most fans agree that mistakes have been made, on many levels, but can still buy into the long term vision, if communicated properly!

        I believe our owners inherited a good, competitive squad but didn’t invest at the right times.

        Why dismantle a playoff final side?

        In my opinion the cuts to the first team budget, inexperienced high level leadership and communication with supporters was the catalyst to our down fall.

        Saying that I think we should appreciate the progress made on the infrastructure and philosophy of the club, which in time, if managed properly will bear fruit.

        All I hope is that lessons have been learnt and we, as a club can move forward.

        If anyone is reading this, I’m putting this out there, tie Grayson down and give him the budget he needs to do what he’s good at, getting teams out of league 1!

        Championship we’re onout way!

  7. I’ve thought long and hard before adding my tuppeneth because I don’t like criticising individual players. There were two signings that surprised me last summer. One was Paul Taylor (for non footballing reasons) and Dom Poleon was the other because I’ve never classed him as a natural striker . Maybe Stuart was looking to add a goalscorer ,with pace, to the side and Poleon certainly has that, together with a willingness to put a stint in. Unfortunately, as a striker, when he has time to think he appears to freeze and the chance is invariably lost. I used to go to Apperley Bridge occasionally when Stuart was here and even in the less stressful environment of training Dom would invariably miss when one on one with the goalkeeper. Sadly, due to the rub of the green, this weakness has been highlighted all too often this season. I wouldn’t class him as a disappointment because I had a good idea what we were getting. If we’re looking to pin the “disappointment” badge on someone perhaps it should be the person who recommended him!

  8. I wrote this last night, and shared it with Jason- who suggested I post it as a comment, as an article on positves is already written for next week:

    The eve of the last match of the season……Scunthorpe, confirmed in their play off slot- whilst we are not…fans still nursing the whiplash bruises of this season’s January pivot downwards. Gloomy stuff. But it’s the bank holiday, the sun is shining, and I randomly decided to set myself the challenge…could I come up with 10 positives from this season. Was it possible? This is what I came up with.

    1. Some exciting new squad members..and some old ones. Alex Gillead has been great to watch, and Callum Guy has led with his passion..and would be a great one to retain. Some glimpses of great potential with Ryan McGowan & looking forward to seeing him fly, next season. Jake Reeves got great plaudits at the start of the season, then went off the boil..but with hindsight, probably due to his lurking injury. Fingers crossed he’ll deliver to his potential next season.

    Simon Grayson seems to want to have Stephen Warnock’s babies….well, he’s raved about him in EVERY interview I’ve heard. And with good reason..he’s put in some great shifts. It was a privilege to watch the ex Liverpool, Blackburn, Aston Villa player finish his career with us, and applaud his last appearance.

    2. Tyrell Robinson. Omari Patrick. Jordan Gibson. When did we last see so many young players burst through, albeit with fits and starts? Savour Tyrell Robinson’s debut winner against now promoted Wigan; and that sensational run in the 4-3 victory over Rochdale. I watched a moment of history as Reece Staunton came on in the EFL trophy match, as the youngest player to debut for the senior squad in the club’s history. After a long season battling injury, it was great to see Joel Grodowski almost score on his debut in an otherwise poor match. And don’t get me started talking about Jordan Gibson. I watched his trial debut in a pre-season friendly, and have followed his progress with great interest. In the last home match, he brought the entire stadium alive when he came on and almost scored after a fearless run.

    3. Charlie Wyke. Well maybe he’ll be sold in the summer…but over a season and a half, we’ve seen a promising League 2 player flourish, and give us the best striker we’ve had in recent seasons. Plus Paul Taylor’s goals. Sorry to see him go, I hope he sorts whatever personal challenges he’s grappling with..but thanks for those thunderbolt shots.

    4. The players effort. Really?? Well, we’ve questioned their commitment over a 3 month period. But over the whole year, in some 55 or so competitive matches, I’ve seen bags of sweat and effort. Not fit to wear the shirt? At times. But in most of those matches, I’ve been proud of the BCFC players…as exemplified by…

    5. Colin Doyle’s 2,523 mile epic trek from Turkey to Bradford, after his first international match in 11 years for Ireland, to play his second match in 24 hours. Oh, and we won that..and he kept a clean sheet, despite being barely able to walk by the end.

    6. The Bantam fans. A lot of talk about toxic atmosphere, negativity. Maybe. But this season we’ve still had I think the largest crowd in League 1, a great away following. The fans have given their team a standing ovation at a goalless first half against Shrewsbury, to will them back to belief in themselves. We’ve got behind our team, and pushed them to keep believing. We are, and will continue to be, the twelfth man.

    7. Affordable football. Of course we have a mid table budget. It’s ridiculously cheap. Plenty of affluent fans admit they could pay more. Well, do so. Many others wouldn’t be on the terraces, if it was hundreds more, in these times of austerity. I hear plenty of clubs have dwindling and ageing fan bases (nothing wrong, by the way, with fans of ALL ages). Arguably, we’re investing in the future.

    8. A dreadful pitch…fixed at last?

    9. The leadership at the club. I’m really pushing my luck with this one, aren’t I? Big problems and low morale behind the scenes;owners out of their depth? Possibly. But I still believe that they, and the fan on the terraces, have a shared ambition to make this club a success. When I see some of the club owning nutters, distant billionaires and probable villains lurking elsewhere, I’m happier to have owners who, maybe misfiring, are hopefully going to learn from their mistakes, and push us where we want to go. Stefan Rupps humble apology and declared determination to learn, at this week’s Player of the Year event, was a hopeful sign. I accidentally bumped into Edin Rahic the other day and said hello. I think he expected to get a mouthful. Instead, I shook his hand, wished him all the best in difficult times, and told him I’d renewed for next year, with my family.

    And can I add, that James Mason continues to impress and inspire. His efforts to lead and respond honestly on social media, as an evidently genuine fan, deserve a medal.

    10. Bradford City FC endures. After 115 years, great highs, terrible lows and a remarkable history. The gloom of a few months and a bad run will fade over time. We’ll win memorable matches, see great goals, launch & nurture flourishing careers…..and lose some. The suspense and excitement and frustration that is the lot of a football fan, will go on. Think we’ve had a bad season? Coming home from a match the other day, a caught the end of an interview with a 77 year old fan of Brechin City, who became the first Scottish team in 126 years to fail to win a single match all season.Was he bitter? No..he thought his amateur team had played with courage and determination..oh, and he’d seen some great football

    I’ll be slaughtered for this commentary by many.. I’m not blind to the disappointments, failures, and challenges right now. But sometimes, how good an experience you have, depends how you chose to look at it. I’d like to see victories, goals, year on year success, promotion. But underneath it all, isn’t it worth celebrating young careers taking off, some good football and memorable goals (a lot of the time!) and the craic, and community of the football experience?

    • Well I applaud the effort and the intent – but that was some scraping along the bottom of the barrel !!

  9. and to that end it is absolutely crucial we win the first game next season – lose it and all the above stated negativity will return

    Big big game now.

  10. 11) Drainage – the cow patch of a pitch shouldn’t be under estimated. Its not fit for purpose which hopefully will be addressed this Summer. The pitch has been relayed several times it feels but that was painting over the cracks. Excuses of certain parts of the pitch gets less natural light never washed with me. Come summer I’m looking forward to a pitch which doesn’t just look great until winter or the 1st wet period but a pitch that remains in good nick all season long.

  11. Well written Jason. Not a lot you can mildly disagree on as it’s an excellent summary of the season in which you’ve certainly covered all the issues barring the poor state of the pitch!

    With the exception of a handful of games it has been a disappointing campaign with mistakes galore both on and off the pitch. My hope for next season is that we can end the constant negativity and rebuild with a commited manager and a team that gives 100% effort 100% of the time for the fans.
    Roll on next season and keep up the good work in creating healthy debate amongst the fans.

  12. I have just got around to reading Jason’s end of season views. Can I pick up on the away crowd standing issue from the first article?

    Being a senior citizen, I like to sit and when there is a policy of “sit where you like”, its not a problem to find an area away from those who want to stand throughout a game. The problem arises when the home club has limited accommodation and we are asked to sit on the seats allocated.

    Our ticket office should know this in advance and thus be able to allocate family / senior citizen seats in one area. I raised this suggestion last season but was told it was not practical. Perhaps with the new computer system in place it is an issue that needs to be addressed again.

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