How to revive Bantam Progressivism

Image by Thomas Gadd (thomasgadd.co.uk)

By Jason McKeown

After another disappointing Bradford City defeat at the weekend, and change of head coach, it is evident the club is in something of a crisis. Supporter discontent is growing darker and darker.

And whilst much of this is unavoidable, the debate about what is going wrong is only half of the issue. As fans talk about no longer recognising their football club, and the growing feeling of disconnect, I’m really keen to explore what it is that we believe Bradford City should represent. The values that are important to us. And the way we fundamentally believe that our beloved football club should operate.

It’s all well and good that we criticise the club – but I believe we should also be trying to encourage a positive vision of what Bradford City should stand for. Bringing together a code of values we collectively believe the club should live by.

So I want to open up the discussion.

As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’m in the closing stages of writing a new book about Bradford City, Who We Are. It is an in-depth insight into the DNA and identity of Bradford City Football Club. Why we love it so much. What makes it so special. And the individuals and moments that have captured our affections. I began writing the book, to be published in October, back in June 2017. As time has gone on, recent events and the collapse of support for the current leadership have been impossible to ignore.

My aim is for Who We Are to hold up as a statement of what Bradford City means to us all – and the values we hold dear, which shape our devotion.

I would dearly love for you – valued reader – to contribute to the book. I am really keen to open up a wider discussion about what the club stands for and the way it should be run. In particular on these topics:

  • The leadership of the club
  • The type of players who wear the shirt
  • The importance of community
  • The long-term aims of the club
  • What it is that connects you to Bradford City
  • What must be persevered at all times to keep Bradford City special

So please, either write a reader comment below, or use the social media hashtag #whoweare to share your views on any or all of these themes. I’m keen to hear from as many people as possible. You can write a sentence, a paragraph or even an essay. What you tell me will be used to steer the book’s conclusion, so we have a true manifesto of who we are and what we believe in.

This is a chance to talk positively about what matters to you. To input into the values that you believe all Bradford City personnel – from chairman to kitman – should adhere to. The current Bradford City might not be the Bradford City you believe in. So, please, tell me what you think it should be. Because I’m just one voice. And each and every one of us has a stake in this.

Details of Who We Are, including how to pre-order a subscriber copy, are available at BantamsPast.

(PS – just so there are no accusations of profiteering, please note this book is a strictly non-profit venture.)

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Categories: Opinion

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36 replies

  1. I value BCAFC not simply as a football club but as a Bradford institution that has much to offer the city and its people. In my opinion the last few years have revealed the best of Bradford City and more recently, the worst.

    For me the essence of the club should be about the following themes:

    1. A pride in belonging. A representative of Bradford and its people, promoting a positive collective identity. An institution that also gives back to the wider Bradford community and one that is at its heart. To be proudly ‘of Bradford’.

    2. To act according to principles and not expediency. The promotion of values that define how the club behaves and how people are treated. An organisation that fosters a bond between players, supporters and all involved with it. A club that treats people with respect and decency. A club that is known for doing the right things however small and seemingly insignificant.

    3. A pride in its history, its origins and its heritage. An appreciation that winning is not everything. A recognition of how supporters have worked to safeguard the club’s existence, of its ability to overcome against the odds and of being a big part in the story of Bradford.

    4. Good fun. To provide a great buzz from the companionship and association that comes from attending games and being a part of the so-called Bantams family.

    5. A passion to do things well, to the best of ability and to do so through honest toil. Labor Omnia Vincit!

    It’s not about having a contrived mission statement as opposed to basic principles that should dictate the club’s existence and for which it is known.

    I am less bothered about success as opposed to feeling part of a club of which I can be proud and which stands for something. There is something unique about Bradford City and we should cherish being unique. As far as I am concerned I want BCAFC to stand out for being special and to be talked about positively by other supporters. Frankly it matters less to me that we win every game because let’s face it, we never will so let’s embrace other ways of winning.

    How the club behaves speaks more than words. Maybe it’s time for a Bradford Model that reconnects with the soul of the club and its supporters.

    • Hello, Jason.
      I write as a relatively new Bantam supporter, who is seeing events from afar, namely Thailand. On Twitter, I am Thaibantamphil.

      My affinity arose in the winter of 2015, when, whilst staying in Bradford, I attended two home matches versus Crewe and Blackpool, during the latter stages of Phil Parkinson’s tenure.

      I was completely impressed by everything I saw, the people I met behind the scenes, for example, James Mason and Ian Ormondroyd, and culminating in a guided tour of the ground one day with a very impressive, Joe Bray. The friendliness and courtesy I received was astonishing, and I was hooked, albeit in absentia since, and confined to listening live, via Pulse Radio.

      I read the Argus, follow WOAP etc, and am dismayed at recent events so soon on the heels of such justified optimism.

      If I may offer an observation, it is this.
      People more knowledgeable than me about the club’s DNA, I’ll leave the ‘politics’ to, but I became aware that overall, finishing in the play offs appeared to be the ‘holy grail’, rather than the push for automatic promotion. I’m reminded of the saying that if you aim for the stars, landing on the moon is a successful given. Also a great deal, too much, perhaps, is written and spoken of the cup runs the team and fans enjoyed in recent times. No problem with that, but as a new fan, it’s no longer relevant. Like Mourinho, across the Pennines, the respect he demands for past achievements is empty rhetoric now.
      Finally, the club should, in my opinion, have stood by McCall, and ridden out the lean spell that every team must go through. But then, as I say, I’m not party to the politics.

      I wish everyone at BCFC the success a club of its immense stature deserves, it being a club of real people, in my experience anyway, and a club so easy to fall in love with.

    • I agree with everything that John Dewhirst has written. Referring to “how the club behaves”, surely the owners want the fans, players and back room staff to feel an affinity with the club.

      To do this they need to foster a culture that allows and encourages everyone to feel part of Bradford City. This means being open and engaging in a dialogue. Of course some issues are confidential but when there is silence, people will put 2 & 2 together to make 6 and social media will make it to 12 in no time at all.

      if R & R want to foster an increased affinity by everyone associated with Bradford City it will take more than leading the applause on the pitch at Fleetwood ahead of the Playoff Final, providing cheap season tickets and gimmicky membership schemes. They need to be visible and engaging both in the good times and the bad. Trouble is I’m not sure it’s in their nature to do so!

  2. As a supporter of over 50 years for me a visit to Valley Parade should be filled with the anticipation that we will experience a couple of hours of entertaining endeavour from our team, win or lose. We want to see maximum effort and a style of football we can associate with on the pitch regardless of the outcome. If we play to our best and still lose at least we feel that the visit has been “worthwhile “ and come away satisfied that at least we gave it our best shot. Seeing players going through the motions for the pay packet is infuriating to the paying public and breeds the discontent we are currently seeing. Let’s see if once we start winning again we are all talking about the football and not off field matters which is the way it should be

  3. What Bradford City should be to me and what the future of the club will be will sadly differ i feel, although through no fault of the current owners.

    Since i have been watching city which is now over 25 years i have always seen the club run/owned by people with the clubs best interests at heart (even including Mr Richmond and his 6 weeks of madness which nearly cost us our club but by no intentions an attempt to ruin the club in fact the complete opposite in truth) and what i mean by that is trying the best for results on the pitch to please our fans whilst also having a club that did things to include and benefit the community and supporters.

    Unfortunately over the last decade or so football and more specifically owning a football club has become more commonly and accepted by many as a business rather than the likes or Lawn/Rhodes who had a genuine love and affiliation with the club. Here in lies the issue that all our and myself included long standing supporters are going to have to accept this change. We are no longer owned by somebody the supported/supports or has a love affair with our football club, rather two business men that saw an opportunity and whilst they may want success they want it on a financial level as well as on the pitch. Both these may go hand in hand but i feel it will be a longer journey to get up the football leagues under the current owners than we may have suspected.

    In terms of the players and match days all i want is the fight, desire and passion to wear that shirt ! The days of Michael Flynn, Bullock, Gary Jones etc not your typically gifted footballers but always committed on the pitch however bad form or results were at the time.

  4. It’s family club …. never been anything less.
    It’s should be run as one .
    Decisions taken where always put out there to the fans through supporters groups.
    We all felt close to the club.

    We have never been able to compete financially with other teams on wages and player purchases , but we knew every penny the club could afford was given to the manager to spend and do the very best.

    The history of our club seems to have been forgotten… there was always structure that we the fan’s could buy into and make those cold afternoons In January worth while sitting there.

    The club always treated fans well … there was always Mr David Baldwin available on email around the ground to speak too if you had any issues .

    A team that battled on the pitch with identity.

    It’s all gone .

  5. The leadership of the club

    Having supported City since 1981, I have seen the best and worst times at the club. Do we want a leader
    who will put the club at risk again (ala Richmond)? Do we want a leader with a vision of where they want the club to go – even if it is at odds with our own vision? I feel the animosity towards Rupp and Rahic has bordered on the racist / xenophobia that has been around since the Brexit referendum. Bradford is, and always will be, a multicultural city which should encompass all fans where ever they, their parents or grandparents, were born. A successful City helps the whole district.

    I feel strongly that the work of R and R is lost in translation somewhat. Knowing a bit more about German society than most supporters, sometimes the German way comes across as aggressive / unconcerning / rude but this is the opposite of what they are probably trying to get across.

    Why should we not look to a model of running a football club which is such a success in their own country? UEFA data showed in 2014, that England had 1,395 coaches holding Uefa’s A and Pro qualification badges compared to Germany’s 6,934, Italy’s 2,281, France’s 3,308 and Spain’s whopping 15,423. And which clubs / countries have been more successful in the last 8 years? These coaches work throughout the whole of the club – from under 6s up to the first team. So that way of working is what R and R know and are attempting to do here and this is on the back of the success elsewhere.

    In 2001 Germany’s exit at the Euro’s in the group stage precipitated a complete change in philosophy throughout the Bundesliga and the national team. Out went the club comes first philosophy and in came the national team as the main focus. It took time but the success in 2014 World Cup was the end of this long process. Build from within, bring the youngsters through, coach the same process throughout all the age groups so that when one moves up the ages / promoted to the first team then they know the system they are working to. England are slowly getting to this position with Gareth Southgate and all the age groups down to U16.

    The type of players who wear the shirt

    Someone who gives 100% no matter what. When you were brought up with McCall / Abbott / Jacko / Bobby C / and the never say die attitude (4-0 down at home to Brentford and we won 5-4). That is all we ask. We don’t have an enforcer at the moment. Someone to get in the opposition faces but also the underperforming teammates. There is no leadership on the field at present. Wright does not inspire me one bit.

    The importance of community

    Anyone from Bradford know what it means to be a Bradfordian. It is in our DNA. It should run throughout the club from top to bottom. The owners need to know what it means to have that desire in your heart. As I said above, a successful City means a successful Bradford community. More money will be spent in the shops / bars around the ground pre and post-match.

    The long-term aims of the club

    We are not going to get a Saudi / Dubai style owner coming in and lavishing millions on us. So why try the R and R route? As mentioned, it is a system that has worked well in their home country = so why not give it a chance?

    What it is that connects you to Bradford City

    A fan from 1981 onwards, whilst I have not always been a season ticket holder throughout these 37 years, the first thing I do online is check about what is happening with City. I have been fortunate to see first hand what goes on a City, have been on the touchline / 4th official throughout the early 2000s. I have seen how the volunteers work behind the scenes to make it the match day experience one of the best in the professional game and the thing that connects everyone together is the love of the club. To stand in the dugout area and watch, while officially working, and see a Dean Windass hattrick, and not being able to celebrate is frustrating. But being this side of the game is so much better. You cannot disconnect yourself from Bradford City – it is impossible!!

    What must be persevered at all times to keep Bradford City special

    Get back to basics with the supporters. Listen to them. Communicate with them. Get them to be part of the philosophy. Get them on board. It is how it works within the German system, so why not replicate it here?

  6. To me BCAFC is a family. The family is both those relatives I go to the game with and those I sit next to, in front of or behind who share my love for my team. I ask only one thing of the players who wear my team shirt and that is they put everything into winning and show the desire we in the stands would if we had the privilege of wearing the claret and Amber shirt. For the owners and the board, I ask for honesty and understanding of what the club means to those who have seen the massive highs and lows of our journey. I ask they respect our history and Protect our future. They should understand they are custodians of the club and make decisions accordingly.

  7. I first went to Valley Parade in 1945 when I was twelve years
    old and my lasting memory from those early days was the
    strip of claret and amber – distinctive colours amongst the
    reds, blues and whites of so many clubs.
    The current strip does not look or feel like claret and amber
    and I do not recognize Bradford City in the strange modern
    garb. I have heard some supporters say that, on the screen,
    it resembles the German national colours. That may well be
    true but it is not Bradford City colours and I, for one, resent
    the change.

  8. Interesting comments.

    I think it would be rather interesting to ask older supporters to list their favourite players accross the time they have been following city.

    We’ve been fortunate to have had some expectional players in the past (Waddle, Carbone, Petrescu) but I suspect those guys will be down the ‘all time favourite’ list compared to McCall, Jones, Campbell, Windass, Jacobs etc – hardworking, honest, heart on the sleeve type of people. I think those players reflect the values from the terraces. Another key quality is fearlessness. Its all very well for a 3rd division player to play in front of a couple of thousand people – quite another to perform in front of a 18K expectant VP crowd.

    There could be an argument to say that this mindset may have held us back. Football is played in the brain as well as with the heart. I sometimes think that players who may look lazy and unconcerned but who bring considerable skill to the team are overlooked and underappreciated. I dont think a Hoddle or a LeTissier would go down too well at Bradford and I think thats a shame. As an example I’m trying to think of a player that played in the Championship for us (on the way down). He used to play for Man City (amongst others). He played on the right, could put the ball on a sixpence, but was constantly berated from the stands for not ‘getting stuck in’. His name escapes me but I’m minded of a Beagrie quote who said that bravery in football is doing something for the tenth time that didnt work for the previous nine attempts!

    What I’m trying to say is that City supporters love a team full of players who can run through brick walls but are less appreciative of footballs who prefer the use of a step ladder!

  9. The leadership of the club
    It occurs to me throughout my time supporting the club our owners have always had a degree of controversy. Starting from big Geoff.
    Lawn and Rhodes were my favorite incumbents despite some reservations people had about Mark – they genuinely did care. It’s shame there wasn’t an investor to come in but keep them on in running the club.
    The current ownership though the model they wish to implement may be pioneering on paper have not been good for the club and have overseen consistent regression; something which fans are not used to over recent times.
    The type of players who wear the shirt
    My favorite City players have always been those with talent and graft and something to overcome.
    Beags and Benny Carbone are two standouts. Immense talents but not without controversy or doubts raised about them and almost guaranteed to raise cheers.
    Though the diamond in the rough odds aren’t the best I think City have done well with this in recent times; Dave Syers, James Hanson, Nakhi Wells, even Charlie Wyke – lower league players the club signed for little or no fee who were able to go on to bigger moves. Personally i’d love to see more of this.
    The importance of community
    The community supports the club; simple as. This has been proven by the 2 administrations. The dwindling numbers due to disillusion of supporters should be a major worry for the owners and I’m surprised the real money man hasn’t stepped in more.
    The long-term aims of the club
    Who knows? Aren’t we supposed to be promoted by now? Realistically I think the club should be a lower championship team and from there you can always dream of a good season, a return to the premiership and a sustainable build (even with relegation) like a West Brom or Burnley.
    What it is that connects you to Bradford City
    I grew up in Bradford and was lucky enough to follow the team from the playoff win over Blackpool so have experienced some amazing highs.
    What must be persevered at all times to keep Bradford City special
    Cliche as it is – the connection to the fans. There should be more openness with fans/fan groups e.g. supporter AGMs or invitation to board meetings. The loss of James Mason has been a major impactor of this as he; like Dave Baldwin before him understood that connection and encouraged it.

    • I’d like to see The Width of a Post have more access to the chairman and players with interviews.
      Mr Rahic must do more to welcome this .
      The Width of a post could be some sort of go between.

    • I’d like to see The Width of a Post have more access to the chairman and players with interviews.
      Mr Rahic must do more to welcome this .
      The Width of a post could be some sort of go between.

  10. It was so sad to arrive this season and see a team made of players I didnt recognise ( other than Chicksen) , lead by a Coach I didnt know and Chairmen whose methods seem ( sorry) foreign !

    There is no wonder it doesnt feel like our club any more, I have no favouite players, last years have all left, been released or banished to the reserves..who am I supposed to be cheering on ? What were our board thinking ! even if supporter sentiment is not a good reason for keeping players having some team structure to slot new and better players into seems a better idea than literally playing the proverbial team of strangers.

    OK Rant ended
    We were denied seeing much of Hopkin’s battling qualities as a player by injury … I think he may need them now but if he still has them, then maybe just maybe he might be just what we need… Keep the Faith

  11. Much like when our parents compare the past to the present, so we as City supporters do the same. In recent years I’ve read a lot about ‘togetherness’ and how the owners, manager, players and supporters were all singing from the same hymn sheet. United as one. All true believers in the claret and amber. Rubbish!

    I’ve supported the club since 1984 and no point can I say hand-on-my-heart during all those year have all of the constituent parts of what forms ‘Bradford City’ been one harmonious love-in.

    Even during the supposedly recent golden years of Lawn/Rhodes & Parky fans were divided. When we went on that massive losing run, fans were calling for the board to sack PP. Lawn & Rhodes were pilloried for a variety of things not least for not investing more into the club.

    I could go through each administration to point out the frictions, fall outs and down right back stabbing that is part and parcel of this club, but that’s labouring the point. So coming up some kind of corporate mission statement or a wish list of how we want the club to operate and the attitude of managers and players is a waste of time. Owners will never please all of the fans all of the time. Managers will be loved one game and hated the next. Some players will be loved and some will be hated.. As is it was so it shall always be.

    Being a Bradford City fan is about accepting the adversity. We’re a small, not very successful, club in a city which has serious social issues and an image problem. We know this but we still commit ourselves to supporting a team we know will give us more heartache than joy. That’s what unites us as fans. We take an almost perverse pleasure in the pain the club inflicts on us. Probably because we know it will make the small joys – like a cup run or a rare promotion – all the much sweeter.

    We want players who are hardworking, fearless and (as we want to believe) love the club as much as we do. Because deep down, we see the players as a manifestation of us, the fans. A group of men who have the same beliefs and passion for this unfashionable ‘little’ club that we do. Why? Because when we fantasise (and we all have) that if we got the chance to jump over the wall and pull on the shirt for City we’d play with those same qualities we look for in the players.

    In a perverse kind of logic, if we created a club that lived up the kind of values we want it to have, it would stop being the thing we love so much.

    • The prospect of eliminating disagreements at Valley Parade and about matters claret and amber is pretty slim. Disagreements will be inevitable and no-one is suggesting otherwise but surely it’s about how differences of opinion are dealt with. There will always be squabbles as is the case in a family but it comes back to the the vast majority of people feeling that they share a bigger vision about the club and an affinity. It’s also about trying to ensure that the bigger disputes don’t happen in the first place. Besides it’s not about trying to apply rose tinted glasses to the past, isn’t it about trying to build a shared future? For a start few people would seeking the return of old regimes or would suggest that any of them represented an idealised state of affairs. But what we do know is that when the club is united it is more likely to be successful.

    • Wolfy, You don’t offer a compelling case for younger fans to follow the club. Not everyone is attracted to the sort of emotional assault course for masochists that you consider a badge of honour. Shouldn’t we aspire to more and look for something positive?

      Tell me, in all your time following the club have you ever known such a disconnect between supporters and the board as appears to be the case now? For all the politics and controversies of the past I don’t think there has been the same feeling that exists now. We’ve gone from a great atmosphere at Valley Parade to one of rancour in less than a year and if we are going to go forward again it needs more than just slagging off the chairman. It doesn’t hurt to have a vision for the club that we can all buy into.

      • Dave, I’d say that the Dave Simpson era was pretty caustic. We had a manager who was widely despised for his long ball style of football (remember the incident with the pie at Preston?). There’s the famous plea on the cover of a City Gent – ‘We want football’. I seem to recall CG was banned from sale within VP during this era because of it criticism of the regime. Many fans felt DS had no respect for the DNA of the club. The various city kits of the time were evidence of this. Which prompted another CG cover plea ‘Bring back the stripes’. David Simpson rarely gave interviews, never mind hold meetings with supporters. He effectively pulled up the drawbridge and retreated into his ivory tower. Much as ER seems to have done since January.
        Of course, back when DS ran the club there was no social media for fans to vent daily their anger and frustrations. There were also fewer of us (average gate was circa 5,000) but it was nonetheless a period disconnect between club and fans. It’s just that time has dimmed the mind and dulled the pain of that period for those that remember it.
        Whilst ER is turning himself into another Dave Simpson, at least our new head coach will enjoy a better relationship with the fans (if he can get us playing football again and winning games) than John Doherty ever had.
        Whilst I don’t give an exactly compelling reason to follow Bradford City to younger fans, I’d love to know what is it that makes them follow the club today that is different to when I started back in 1984? The club today is exactly where it was back then – in division 3. In my opinion the reality of being a city fan is long periods of disappointment with brief spells of joy. I’d like to promise my kids that watching City will be a path littered with promotions and silverware, but I know that ain’t going to happen.

    • One of the best comments I’ve ever read

      • It’s right to say that the David Simpson era was not the most inspiring (!) although unfair to say that he didn’t know the club given that he was a fan and had formerly worked at VP as a commercial manager. I think it came down to the fact that he had neither the ideas nor the money to turn things around. Nor was he a charismatic leader and indeed his communications were poor – arguably themes in common with Rahic. Docherty’s football was dire but he came to VP with strong credentials after what he’d achieved at Millwall and arguably Hopkin is exactly the same. We might also discover that Hopkin’s football is the same route one but let’s wait and see.

        Simpson was no different to many other local businessmen who took control at VP, motivated to live the dream and finding themselves powerless to turn things around. Simpson probably hadn’t realised how bad things were when he took over. The big difference with the current regime is that they inherited the club is a much stronger position. I’d argue that the frustration directed at Simpson was that he failed to transform things whereas the frustration and criticism directed at Rahic is that the club has gone backwards. With the benefit of hindsight it was probably unrealistic to have had high expectations of Simpson, that he could have taken us back to the ‘heights’ of the late 80s and made good the mistakes (and bitterness) of that nearly season in 1988. As things stand I am not sure that the same benefit of doubt could be given to what has happened at VP in the last year and I find it truly disturbing how the momentum and feelgood factor has been lost.

        Simpson found himself out of his depth and spent the last couple of years desperately trying to sell the club because he simply could not afford the commitment. We were stuck with him because no-one else was interested in buying the club until Richmond came along in 1995. It wasn’t the recipe for a happy relationship with supporters but by the same token, Simpson did his bit to keep the club alive and I am not sure that we appreciated the financial reality of what he was dealing with. Rupp and Rahic might say the same themselves.

        I believe that a big part of the Valley Parade experience in the last five years or so has been that feelgood factor and the fact that it has been fun, dare I say even fashionable for a lot of kids. I am not sure that that was the case for those of us who fell in love with the club in the 70s and 80s when it seemed a much more contrarian decision to make the commitment.

        I share your cynicism about fluffy mission statements but equally I am concerned that unless the supporters remind our owners what it is that the club stands for, then it will be forgotten and neglected. I am extremely disappointed at the state of affairs at VP and how the club is being run but until Rupp and Rahic make the decision to sell we are stuck with them. There is little value engaging in negative criticism of the chairman and it seems far more constructive to instead highlight what it is that supporters value, to remind them what BCAFC is about – or indeed what we’d like it to be. When I was editor of The City Gent in the late 80s I found the club more prepared to listen to grievances if we could engage constructively instead of resorting to the sort of insults that are now common place on social media. Of course there will always be disagreements but fall outs are easier to accommodate if the fundamentals are in place and there are mutual understandings.

        As regards the kits, the CG campaign to restore the stripes was actually pre-Simpson and of my making but that is another matter. The reason that Simpson resorted to the innovative kits was the same as his successors – because he thought that radical designs would encourage retail sales. My criticism of those kits (like the one we have this season) is that they were not traditional but that is equally a criticism of the fact that BCAFC has never had a branding strategy. Until recently the club has neglected its history and not recognised the importance or value of its heritage which I believe is at the core of the club’s identity.

        The club would derive commercial benefit if it grasped a few basics about branding and it brings us back to this whole debate. What the club stands for – and who we are – is equally a part of the club’s brand as its shirts.

  12. Leadership. The owners are custodians of the club.
    As such their decisions should be for the best outcomes for the club.

    Players. Hard-working. Committed. Honest.

    Community. City is of vital importance to the Bradford Community.
    To the way it is seen in the wider world, and how it sees itself.
    As such it should communicate well with (including listen) and take full part in the Bradford Community.
    The whole Community – male, female, young, old, able, disabled, of all origins and persuasions.
    After all, we are Bradford City.

    Long-term aims. To play entertaining football at the highest level we can.
    As a club that has been bankrupt or nigh-on bankrupt three times that I know of, we need to stay in business, and pay our way.
    To play a full part in the Bradford Community.

    My connection to the club? To watch football.
    Entertaining football, if possible, as much as can be managed.
    To feel a part of a Bradford “family”
    To feel that someday I might feel again like I did when we beat Chelsea (both times) Barnsley with a last-minute goal, or when we got stuffed at Wembly by Swansea.

    Things that make City special? History.
    FA Cup winners when that was THE major trophy to be won, when 100,000 people crowded the streets to welcome the Cup back to Bradford. Top League, getting there, staying there.
    The fire.
    The fact that so far we have overcome terrible trials to still be a club we can care about.
    Pride.

  13. Our best supported and loved squads were the ones that followed the ‘gerrintoem’ ethos. Show us that and we’ll roar you on to victories

  14. I will try to answer each point as briefly as possible.
    The leadership of the club:
    For all his faults, and by hell he had some, Geoffrey Richmond did lead the club. He may have been a bully and a rogue but he led us to the Premiership. When I started watching City in 1959/60 the directors of the club were miles apart from the fans. It was small time local mens outfitters or maybe a building firm but no leadership noticeable.

    The type of players who wear the shirt:
    It is difficult to know what is in another man’s mind but we like players who chase lost causes. Who do not appear to be just picking up a wage. Those that work hard away from home when 1 nil down to get a point or even all 3. We love skillful players but don’t we just adore grafters? Stuart McCall type. Muck and bullets.

    The importance of community::
    This is a recent thing this ‘community’. Ever since the lottery and other government money became available it became necessary for clubs to show a local involvement. I think this is excellent and Bradford City should be involved with women’s football, disabled (both mental and physical)football. Visits to schools to promote the club and role models for young minds. It was community that heped in the aftermath of that fateful 1985 Saturday.

    The long-term aims of the club::
    My club should strive for the top. I am not particularly bothered about the Premier League but a club our size should be Championship at the very least. A good cup run warms the cockles of supporter’s hearts. I do not want to hear anymore of FEEDER CLUB. We are a club on a par with all other members of the EFL. Be it Stanley or that ‘big club’ t’other side of Pudsey. We can sell our better players to anyone if we want to. A feeder club has given up its birthright. Thank God it is not allowed in our EFL.

    What it is that connects you to Bradford City.
    I think I am connected to City because I went in 1959 and you just get hooked. I did not choose City off a map as some recent Johnny come latelies actually bragged. I was born in Bradford. Bradford as a city has struggled in recent times but so long as there is a Bradford City in the weekend fixture list and the results on a Saturday teatime we are on that (in)famous map.

    What must be persevered at all times to keep Bradford City special.
    I assume that you mean preserved? Let me take you literally, ignoring the typo. What must be persevered? It is perseverance that keeps us going. It is perseverance that took us to Wembley twice in a season. NO twice in 4 months. More than desperate for Premier survival sides such as Bournemouth or Southampton. It is perseverance that saw us refuse to lay down and die after going 2 down at Chelsea or home to top side Burnley 3-3 many years ago or a magnificent 2-2 draw in the cup at home to Spurs or beating a star studded Everton side in the late fifties. Perseverance was king on a terrible Tuesday night in 2012 Autumn when a second string side was losing in the League Cup at home to Burton and Parkin put the ultimate subs on, Hanson and Wells and we beat ’em, with hardly any bugger there. Plenty there in later rounds when we persevered against Wigan, Arsenal and Villa. What a night that was. We are SPECIAL because we persevered after the fire, after several bankruptcies. That spirit must be preserved.

    What must be preserved at all times?
    The memories and respect for those lost in the fire. We must make our bonds with the BRI Burns Unit permanent. Even to the point of a free ad on our shirts. We must retain the black ribbon on the shirt so that in the future young fans and new signings can be steeped in the history and tradition of the place as they are told why it is there. The ‘bargain’ season tickets particularly for families must be preserved. It was disappointing this summer when the club raised the under 11 ticket price. These kids are the future fans. The future of this club.They are the reason many a Saturday that the family comes to the match. The claret and amber must be saved. We have the finest colours in the league. Forget your blue and white of Everton, Leicester, Chelsea, Birmingham and so on. Or the sameness of the red attired Man U, Accrington Stanley, Arsenal etc.I will not bore you with white. I think you get my point. The togetherness in respect of that terrible day is special.

  15. What does being a Bradford City fan mean to me?

    Started supporting City in 81 when my Dad got tickets for the cup replay vs Ipswich. What I saw that night was a team on and off the field – a team of players that gave everything and never gave up – a set of fans that cheered them on that night and despite defeat stayed to the end to clap the team off. I was hooked.

    Been throught the good times – promotions, cup finals and play off finals – they don’t happen with the team alone – everyone ays a part!

    Been through the bad times – relegations, administrations and of course the fire. It is in these times that bring out the best of the community and brings everyone together. We mourned together, and we supported each other in those dark times.

    Our identity is Clarent and Amber as stripes – a kit combination that sets us apart from the standard reds, blues and whites of the leagues.

    Supporting Bradford is about being as one as actually community as a focal point for the City. It’s about being proud to be a Bradfordian, a Yorkshireman and a Northerner and all that goes with that.

    It’s about going to games with your family – we have 3 generations that go week in week out – it’s about making friends with those you see regularly in the pub, sit nearby or see often at away games.

    Above all for me the best way to summarise about what it means to support Bradford is being 5-0 down in a Wembley final in which you’ve been totally outplayed but regardless of that the whole of the Bradford end being up on their feet singing support for the last 20 mins through sheer pride as one! OK we didn’t win the final but the whole city gave it everything on the way!

  16. I’m just going to answer what connects you to Bradford City…. The Bradford economy has been in decline for that last 50+ years. When textiles died so did a large part of the City, its never recovered from its heydays. The perception of Bradford has been tarnished by events in our control and by events outside of our control. The football team is one of a few beacons which can truly inject positivity and pride into Bradfordians. When City (BCAFC) do well, so does the City (Bradford District). Like it or not when the club is successful, the nations sits up and listens. Just take the media hype from the League Cup Final, the Premiership days, the FA Cup run etc. Like Burnley and Town, a successful football team generates an immeasurable feel good factor which changes peoples minds. When the Bulls were winning trophies the same was true. We need to champion as many institutions which promote this fine City. BCAFC like for many other Bradfordians, is my vehicle for sending out this message to the wider world. Bradford and Proud.

  17. I’ve been working out what to write for the past two hours, but this is what I believe Bradford City should be, what it should represent and shows us all what Bradford Progressivism is;

    The leadership of the club – This should be something that’s chosen only for those who are leaders, the types of players who aren’t passengers and stand up to be counted. When we’re bad, they’re the first one over to the fans to apologise, when we’re good, they’re dragging every single player over in front of our supporters and celebrating as if they are in the stands with us. The leadership of the club has to be taken by somebody who knows how it feels to be a fan, to be a Bradfordian and to be a true custodian of the club. When you think of leadership, I automatically think of Gary Jones and Stuart McCall. They get it.

    The type of players who wear the shirt – I don’t care about talent. Talent isn’t the be all and end all. Of course, talent separates the brilliantly gifted players, from the more average ones; but it doesn’t make you a better footballer. In the 2012/13 season, I’d say there was a lack of talent – but an abundance of effort, pride and desire to be a Bradford City player, and in turn that made all of those history makers 1) Better Footballers and 2) Bradford City players fit to wear the shirt.

    The importance of community – Bradford City fans coming together, irregardless of background, race, religion or political beliefs shows the unity of our club and city, which is historically a working-class area and is often frowned upon by people across the UK. I’m a proud Bradfordian and I wouldn’t have it any differently. In terms of what this football club means to the community, it’s been through a lot and so have the fans over the years, and you can’t understate the effect this club has on the city. Cheap season tickets to enable all fans to access the club, players who are active within the community and also youth development that aims to poach local footballers are all things I’m proud our club do, and I don’t ever want it to change.

    The long-term aims of the club – to keep its fans happy. We don’t ask for a Premier League side, we don’t ask for a huge 80,000 seater modern stadium and we certainly don’t ask for flashy things. What we want is a team who represent us, play for the badge on the front of the shirt and don’t think about the name on the back. Bradford City isn’t a club with a big ego, but it’s a club with hope, aspirations and one that belongs in my opinion in the second-tier of English football at a minimum.

    What it is that connects you to Bradford City – my Grandad was a footballer. He played for Blackpool, Morecambe and several other sides and was keen to get me involved in the sport from a young, early age. My Dad was never a particularly big football fan, but both him and my Grandad decided to take me to Valley Parade in the 2006/07 season when we were relegated for League One. I loved it, and wanted to continue returning to Valley Parade, we bought season tickets in the 2007/08 season when cheap tickets were introduced and here I am, eleven seasons later, still going with my Dad. My Grandad has since moved away, but always asks how we are getting on, follows us and has been to the occasional game since moving. Bradford City is a family club, and that’s one of the most important attractions in my eyes.

    What must be persevered at all times to keep Bradford City special – a fanbase who is appreciated, who is looked after and valued. It’s that simple. Give us respect, give us a team we can get behind regardless of how talented they are, and we will repay you with an excellent dedicated support who will travel to the ends of the earth for a football team we love. We want people who get Bradford City and if we are given that, this club will become unstoppable once again.

  18. There is a special connection between our club and it’s fans.
    The tragedy of May 11th 1985 will never ever be forgotten .
    The black In our kit signifies that .
    The players must learn about that tragedy and understand what it means to represent Bradford City.
    Phil Parkinson understood that connection and understood the history of our club,even taking his players to the theatre production of the “56” .
    He was so well liked by the fans because of that and how his teams showed that work ethic and fighting spirit that us City fans look for..
    To any City player ,all I will say is if you give everything each game for the fans,even if things don’t come off for you every time they will stick by you.
    McCall,Hendrie and Lawrence to name just some did and they will go down as true legends..
    Bradford City is a very special club and the fans are very protective over it and their players.
    If those players play with their heart on their sleeve they will always be one of us.

    Clive Michallat
    Scout.Bradford City.

  19. The leadership of the club
    Bradford is a proud and diverse working class city. We have always struggled to connect with the flash or aloof. It is vital that the leaders of our club are working class and approachable. The current regime feels it has lost its anchor and connection to the fan base. We really need a strong Bradford connection in the upper echelons of the club who understands our history, our people and can jointly shape our future.

    The type of players who wear the shirt
    Our best players over the years have always been the grafter who wear their hearts on their sleeve. We may have had more skilful players at times, but pride in the shirt, refusal to accept second best, grit and determination are what we have always responded to.

    The importance of community
    We have a strong bond and with the fire a shared and at times dark history. Keep the community close and they will lift the club further. I would suggest the club should embrace the local Junior football setup. Those kids and their families are the future players so we should be linking very closely. Include them at half time, run tournaments, do appearances, the positive PR from these kind of events and visiting schools will restore faith

    The long-term aims of the club
    I have no aspirations for Premier League again, it would be great to be back in the championship and stable there

    What it is that connects you to Bradford City
    Like many it is for me a family. I grew up going with my father, as he did with his. I now take my son and we have three generations sat together. We share the great times, and get frustrated at the bad. I genuinely wouldn’t change anything, and never not want to be there watching and supporting

    What must be persevered at all times to keep Bradford City special
    The family ethos, and remembering the dark past without making it too showy. We are stronger together

  20. What a great time to launch this debate! Just when so much is under threat after the change of ownership two years ago.
    I always try to go to the first match of the season, because there is always that hope that this will be the season to remember. And this season after the dark days of Stuart’s sacking and even darker days of the turgid stuff served up by Simon Grayson, I dared to hope with a new team and a new young manager (sorry, new coach) whom I had never heard of, though a City insider. It was so strange seeing a completely new team step out and spending half an hour working out who was who (even one of the two from last season Chicksen had played less than half a season for City). It seemed such a mistake to change the whole team – no identity and nobody to relate to. Yet we managed a win and a creditable performance – what a false dawn it turned out to be. I saw the Barnsley game when we were outclassed and hoped that was going to be the exception but it clearly wasn’t.
    When we acquired new owners two years ago, I liked the idea that, if they couldn’t be local, they came from Germany. After all German immigrants had helped to make Bradford a great city in the late 19th century. Initially Edin Rahic said the right things, seemed to be a sound businessman and did not seem to fit the mould of other foreign owners who have ruined their clubs (eg Blackburn, Charlton, Coventry and of course Leeds). We all know how that has turned out – so far a massive disappointment, especially his inability to get on with a club legend who was his first manager. Unfortunately, when an owner and a manager don’t get on, there is only one winner. What’s more it seems as if he was determined to get rid of all the players associated with Stuart.
    Unfortunately, it seems to me that Rahic is going nowhere. ‘Rahic Out’ is not going to happen – he seems to have made a firm commitment of his money and his family after careful research. We have to find some way of showing him there is to be a better way than the events of the past year have shown. We need to help him change and hope he is receptive. This is an ideal opportunity to do this.
    I think Jason has to be congratulated for showing the leadership in initiating this debate. However they define success, ultimately Rahic and Rupp cannot succeed without the fans. They don’t own the stadium and can’t make money from property redevelopment. The players are only an asset if the fans support them. I think we should help Jason to articulate the power of being a City fan and show Rahic and Rupp that ultimately they cannot afford to ignore our views
    I have been a supporter since 1953. I come from a City family. My grandad, a prominent Bradfordian in the 20th century whose biography I have just written (Percy Monkman: An Extraordinary Bradfordian) saw City win the FA Cup. Like him, I was born in Manningham, a stone’s throw from Valley Parade. His brother and nephew were passionate City fans, as also my brother now living in Germany and my son now living in London, who never even lived in Bradford himself.
    Like all those who have responded here, we did not choose to support this team, but there is something to admire about City at its best – the strong community support, the players that you can identify with – eg Jones, Hanson and McCardle in recent years. The contributions made here have already captured the main points (eg John Dewhirst, John Armitage, Jakeverity) The club should be true to its roots. We should defend our support by taking the high ground. Jason’s book might just be the catalyst.
    .

    • I had a picture of Percy Monkman having a pint with J.B.Priestley in the Black Swan in Frizinghall. He was one of many people who made Bradford better by what they did. And he did so much, that nobody outside Bradford heard of, and no bugger in Bradford ever made an effort to praise; because praise is a soft Southern trick.

      I came to Bradford because I was lazy. I went to City because I needed something to do. I carried on coming because I had nothing better.

      Bradford City were winning when I first watched. By the time they gave up on winning I was addicted. I have never been much of a fan of football, but I felt part of a dysfunctional family; just like the one I’d ‘escaped’ by coming to Bradford.

      Football has seemed stupid to me for years: but now I feel that I have no link with the business trading under the brand of Bradford City .

      The people I see when I do go are like friends of the deceased at a funeral. I really like most of the them, but not enough to pay to suffer in exchange for some minutes of chat. I was also threatened before the Southend home game last season; as a result of something I’d objected to him doing the season before. Big mouthed fish in a tiny pond is what it too often seems like to strangers.

      The original set of questions simply cannot bring out anything much. People almost never manage better than ‘what I feel now’. ‘What did you think last week?’ as difficult to say as ‘What should be done?’.

  21. Bradford City holds a special place in my heart. I am a life long supporter turned 60, who played on the pitch as a school boy, attended St George’s Day Parades as a Scout and have watched the highs and lows of my team since going with my dear Dad in the 1960’s (he was actually a Bradford PA supporter). I feel that Bradford City is still a “Community Club” and the values and actions of the club should reflect the community, the culture… The honesty, hard work, endeavour and pride. Most football fans don’t have to explain their belief, the attachment to their club…. It’s just there, an inner feeling of belonging… A bit like “class is permanent, form is temporary”… For me Bradford City has that special “spirit of place”, a permanency of special situations, the current board, team, performance… Whilst important is a temporary high or low…. The board, the players (many new to the club) and now our new coach David H… Are temporary custodians and they should all want and need (within their personal DNA) through their actions and not just their words a real effort and sustained performance worthy of this proud community club. I have watched my Bradford City play Yeovil Town at Yeovil twice in recent years.. A poor performance losing 1-0 followed up immediately with FA Cup success against Chelsea and last season a 2-0 defeat in the same competition seeing the departure of Stuart and a run of defeats….. Something wasn’t right that day, perhaps
    more effort from the travelling faithful than those players fortunate enough to be representing our club. I wrote to the club at the time with my views. Bradford City should be at least a competitive Championship Club….. and from the “high” of a Wembley playoff final with my dear Dad v Notts County which perhaps started the rise to the recent “low” of Yeovil and Stuart’s departure… All special and memorable situations because I was there supporting my team.

  22. I’m a more recent supporter. Started following City during the League Cup run. There’s something about this club that grabs you and won’t let go. I still don’t actually know WHY I support City, but I know I always will.
    I’ve grown up in a post-Premier League era (I’m 19). On Sky, I see players rolling about, not really fussed about the clubs they play for. It’s just a job after all. It pays the bills. The Bradford team that got me in to City weren’t like that. They’d take a bullet for each other. They weren’t the most talented team, but they gave everything. They were the anecdote to everything wrong with modern football. There was no odds insurmountable. It was a team impossible not to fall in love with.
    There’s a sense of community with this club, even for non-Bradfordians. A feeling we’re all in it together.
    I feel like we’re in danger of losing what drew me in, and maybe other younger/non-Bradfordian fans. It’s a special club. We can’t let that go.

  23. For me it comes down to values (which is a horrible corporate word, but I can’t think of anything more fitting). I don’t care whether City are in the Championship or League 2 as long as the club has the values of the fans and stays true to them. Success comes and goes, I’m sure I will see City promoted and relegated again before I give up on my season ticket, and it’s the fleeting moments of success that keep us coming (I’d prefer us not to be in the circus that is the Premier League because I think it is hard to maintain those values, but that’s just my view).

    I want a good match day experience. I want the affordable ticket prices, and sit in the same seat (surrounded by the same people) as I have for the last 20 years. I want the players who, regardless of ability, put in a shift for the shirt (and this is why Kai Brunker will never get any stick from me). I want newcomers to the club (players, non-playing staff) to appreciate the club’s history, it’s fans and what the club means to them. I want the players to have a bond with the club and it’s fans. I want City fans working for the club behind the scenes, who have the instinct of the the fans and who the fans know will always go above and beyond for the club. I want the various supporters clubs to be influential in decisions that are relatively unimportant, but are important for fans (eg ticket allocations, ground improvements, what colour the advertising hoardings are painted). I want to see us giving young lads from the local area the chance to play professional football; and who knows one day one of them may go on to represent England. We had most of this under the Parkinson era, which is why for me this was a golden period for the club and the standard we have to aim for.

    I’m struck by something Wayne Jacobs once said about former players. He said the ex-players came to the club with no affiliation but – in the most part – soon fell in love with the club and loved Bradford (as a city) because of it. They liked their encounters with the fans when out and about. Ok it might have helped that we had success on the pitch, but this football club should be proud to be different. To give our values parity to any on the pitch success.

    I’m frustrated that the club, which for the last few years has flown the flag for Bradford (‘Bradford: a great city!’), is damaging it’s own reputation with it’s sagas this year. The club has been a Bradford success, improving the name of the city across the country (even the world) when it is rare that positive words are written about it. I don’t want the perception to be “a dysfunctional club, in a dysfunctional city”. To this aim, the drama over at the Bradford Bulls hasn’t helped this either.

    This also ties into my main gripe with Rahic. He’ll make bad decisions and then enact those decisions badly; I don’t hold that against him because every City chairman ever has done this. But you just don’t treat good people, who have done well for the club and shown the values that I talk about above, in the way that he has. I’m thinking specifically of Stuart McCall (I know with certainty that he tried to ban him from Valley Parade when he came back as a Sky commentator); Colin Doyle (with his charity work, who flew back from his rare international call-up to put in a shift when the wheels were really coming off); Matt Kilgallon (one of the few who fronted up and didn’t hide last season). This is unforgivable and needs rectifying because this is not Bradford City. These are not Bradford City values.

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