After the dreadful run of events at Bradford City over 2018, it’s clear many fans are turning away from the club and next year’s season tickets could take an even bigger hit. Four Width of a Post writers explain their own personal feelings on why they, at least, will continue to keep watching the Bantams this season and beyond.
“City have always been this sort of club which makes us value and cherish the good times all the more.”
By Ian Hemmens
I’ll lay my cards on the table, I’ll be renewing and I’ll continue to watch the team.
Reading social media these days I think I’m one of a dying breed. I have no problem with people protesting in any way they want as long as it is respectful and not maliciously personal. As I keep harping on, I’ve been supporting City over 50 years and seen it all: good, bad, downright awful to ecstatically good. I’ve had plenty of moans at poor performances but can proudly say I’ve never booed a player in a Claret and Amber shirt.
I’ll admit one reason I will renew is the economical aspect with the price of season tickets. If they went up steeply I might have to consider my position, but it would only be due to economical pressures. I’m a 3rd generation City fan born in Manningham, the club is in my blood and I wouldn’t abandon the club purely due to bad owners, I’ve seen them before. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy at times; but we as fans will hopefully be there when the latest custodians have been and gone.
In my lifetime, City have always been this sort of club which makes us value and cherish the good times all the more. Hopefully they will be back again.
“I fear for the next generation of fans and the recently-hooked ones too.”
By James Pieslak
Against my better instincts, I’m dragging myself there. Through the week I’m adamant that I will not go, but on Saturday morning I find myself succumbing. To be honest, it isn’t the football that’s drawing me back – it’s the chance to catch up with friends and family in the Record Café. As soon as we get to VP, the fun comes to an abrupt end.
For the past couple of seasons we have gone in a large group of family and friends but that is dwindling. It’s mostly the younger ones who are turning their back. My nieces are in their late teens and their enthusiasm has been snuffed out. They’re at an age when the world is opening up for them, but the thought of ‘watching that lot’ has slipped right down the list. Who can blame them?
My two sons are six and four. My eldest has come with me for the past couple of seasons and he has always loved it. This season has been a struggle. He’s lost a lot of enthusiasm, and I’m finding that the bribe of a Dandelion & Burdock in the Record Café is the best way to entice him along.
My youngest came to a couple of early games, having fallen in love with football during the summer (cheers Gareth Southgate). He sat in awe, and I was delighted to watch him following the play and cheering along. The problem is, the poor lad didn’t see us score in those early games. He’s losing interest, although he is young so I’m not too worried at this stage. He’s still yet to see us score though.
I’m confident that I’ll manage to keep my two coming along, but I fear for the next generation of fans and the recently-hooked ones too. A lot of good work has been undone. A decade ago, you didn’t see many young ones wearing City colours as they chose to spend their money on more fashionable clubs. I fear that could return, and very soon. That’s another unwanted legacy that I fear Edin Rahic could leave us with.
“I’m prioritising other things over City, where in the past, maybe I wouldn’t have.”
By Nikhil Vekaria
I renewed at the start of the season through a combination of habit and obviously very wrongly, actually think we’d signed quite well.
Despite the horror show from last January onwards, I was relatively optimistic that we could turn it round this season and at least show a bit more than we had throughout that run, despite the appointment of Michael Collins as manager.
However, a few weeks into the season, it was clear to see I was wrong.
Since the season began, it has been harder and harder to find the motivation to get to home games, especially as I’m living in Sheffield and it’s more of a commitment to get back.
I certainly wouldn’t say I’m ‘boycotting’ games, but I’m certainly less bothered if I miss one and I’m prioritising other things over City, where in the past, maybe I wouldn’t have.
The difference between this season and a couple of years ago, when City were playing some genuinely exciting football, is stark and games just aren’t enjoyable at all anymore.
My approach to away games is the same and I simply don’t want to commit to spending money on them, only to watch a team that I have simply no faith in and no real feeling towards.
Despite this, if the new season began tomorrow, I do think I’d still renew (even assuming we were in League Two, which looks very very likely to be the case).
However, this is more due to force of habit and the fact season tickets are so cheap, as opposed to any real optimism or hope for the future. I imagine my approach would be similar to this season, where despite having a season ticket, I’d probably only attend if it was convenient for me.
I think the most damning thing about this campaign is that as someone who’s watched City for 16 years and always hated missing any game, I’m simply not bothered if I can’t make it anymore…
“My father-in-law he had better things to do with his time than watch Rahic destroy the team so many fans care about”
By Ian Sheard
My father-in-law is an old fashioned Yorkshire man who enjoys a pint, loves value for money and enjoys the local sports clubs doing well. I first encouraged him to buy a season ticket with me a number of years ago when the cheap season ticket was first introduced; not wanting to miss a bargain he snaffled one up. After a few seasons of ‘drab’ League Two football under Peter Taylor (shades of which were starting to emerge) we were rewarded for our loyalty with the History Makers of 2013 and the decent couple of seasons after that.
And then the winter of discontent arrived! No real promising signings, McCall falling out with Rahic and results taking a turn for the worst. McCall was sacked.
My father-in-law had his suspicions about what was going on at the club and stated that he was of the opinion that these new owners were out of their depth and did not have a clue what they were doing. In his view, the problem was that they did not understand what the club was about and what it meant to the fans. He drew parallels with the Bulls in terms of their recent fall from grace and troubles with the administration etc.
I still held some promise from the new owners and tried desperately to defend the sacking of McCall based on results, naively thinking that this was clearly a ‘footballing decision’. In walked Simon Grayson – the self-proclaimed Messiah that would bring us back into the Play Offs and lead us into the Championship. He failed.
It was around the time of Grayson signing that I renewed my season ticket and also that of my father-in-law. As the tickets were still relatively cheap he paid, but I suspected that he would not be attending as many games as he had previously. After the farcical summer regarding coaches and the appointment of Collins, my father-in-law asked me if I knew of anyone that wanted a Season Ticket as he had better things to do with his time than watch Rahic destroy the team so many fans care about. He hasn’t been back since, and I don’t think he will unless the club make some dramatic changes.
My father-in-law now spends his Saturday down at Park Ave. He tells me there the fans are respected and looked after, the owner keeps the club ticking over; allowing it to run and finance itself but with his backing if required. The manager is a Bradford – nay Wibsey lad – who demands that players play for the shirt and play attacking, exciting football.
I understand his decision, he has never professed to be the die-hard City fan his son-in-law is but wants to see all clubs in Bradford do well and will support them financially and invest emotionally if he feels as though it’s a good investment. If not, then they don’t deserve his time.
Personally, I hope that bringing Julian Rhodes in will bring some heart back to the club and the connection between the fans and the club that has become so toxic will be repaired enough to encourage supporters of Bradford (such as my father-in-law) back to the club.