30. Peter Jackson
By Jason McKeown
In some ways it is curious that Peter Jackson has polled this far down. A Bradfordian who captained his hometown club to the Third Division title in 1985. The leader of the players, through the powerful emotions of the Valley Parade fire aftermath. Peter Jackson’s place in Bradford City history is certainly assured. When he left that summer for Newcastle United, it was with sadness but everyone’s best wishes. 274 appearances for City, going back to his breakthrough in 1979. Jackson was a winner and lifted City a long way.
But with Jackson, his relationship with City fans became complicated. At the end of the eighties, he made what should have been a triumphant return to Valley Parade for a second spell playing for the Bantams. He was not the same player, struggling to impress. He left two years later, and across the nineties somehow became a villain to City fans. Firstly, by playing for neighbours Huddersfield Town. And then later by managing the Terriers, at a time when the local rivalry was at its fiercest. Some of Jackson’s antics on the touchline did little to endear himself to City supporters.
The frostiness has now eased. And Jackson even had a spell in 2011 managing City, winning admirers if not too many points. It was a very tough time for the club, and Jackson did his best in difficult circumstances. There was renewed respect again.
Ultimately, what Jackson did for City in the first half of the eighties is more influential and impressive than almost every other player in the club’s history. And that will never be forgotten.
29. Don Hutchins
By Jason McKeown
Bradford City fans have always loved a winger, and they don’t come much more skilful than Don Hutchins. Over seven seasons that started in 1974, Hutchins scored 44 goals in 256 appearances, but was best known for his soaring pace. A direct wideman, he would charge forward like the clappers, only stopping at the byline to whip in a cross. So speedy was Hutchins, he earned the nickname ‘The Train’.
Those who watched City in the seventies argue Hutchins is the best City winger over the past 50 years. He played a starring role in the famous 1976 FA Cup charge to the quarter finals, scoring five goals in six ties. Hutchins was also an influential figure in the 1978 promotion-winning side.
Prior to joining City, Hutchins had struggled to hold down a regular starting place at several clubs. But he revelled playing at Valley Parade, creating priceless memories that helped the club recover from a period of stagnation.
28. Bruce Stowell
By Jason McKeown
With 401 appearances over a 14-year spell, Bruce Stowell achieved the fourth-highest number of league appearances in Bradford City’s long history. A Bradfordian who left school at 15, working in the mills, Stowell signed a professional deal with City in 1958 but continued to work in the mill until 1967.
He combined mill work with being a regular in Bradford City’s midfield. A number four who rarely missed a game.
Stowell was a born leader and – after finally turning into a full time professional – quickly earned the captain’s armband, skippering the club to promotion from the Fourth Division in 1969. It was City’s first promotion in 40 years.
He was a tough tackler, with an eye for a pass. A mainstay of the team, driving high standards in those around him. Stowell didn’t score many, but he did net against the mighty Tottenham Hotspur in a 2-2 FA Cup draw.
To those fans who grew up watching City in the 1960s, Bruce Stowell simply was Bradford City. Such lengthy service will probably never be repeated.
27. John McCole
By Jason McKeown
John McCole was a mighty goalscorer. The Scottish striker had two, all-too-brief spells leading the Bantams line in 1958/59 and 1961/62. Signed from Falkirk in 1968, McCole netted 28 goals in 34 league matches in his first season for the club.
He began the next campaign with four goals in the first eight games, before a fall-out with manager Peter Jackson saw him transferred to Leeds United, where he was prolific for a couple of seasons. When Bob Brocklebank took over as manager at Valley Parade, McCole made a shock return. He was still a good player, but played a slightly different role and was less prolific. City now had David Layne as the main man, and so McCole departed fairly quickly.
Still, McCole’s incredible impact and deadly goalscoring ability means that he is fondly remembered by older City supporters. He netted three hat tricks in one City season. And over his career maintained a one in two record. A deadly lower league striker.
26. Darren Moore
By Jason McKeown
When Darren Moore signed for Bradford City from Doncaster Rovers in the summer of 1997, not a huge amount was expected. He didn’t make a single appearance for two months, as the centre back struggled to get past Eddie Youds and John Dreyer.
But once Moore got his chance, he never looked back. A colossal, powerful presence at the back, Moore bullied strikers through his physical prowess and expert reading of the game. At times ‘Bruno’ simply looked unbeatable. A defender who absolutely loved defending. Moore was less comfortable with his distribution, although it improved significantly over his two and a half years at Valley Parade.
His second season was the famous 1998/99 promotion to the Premier League. Paul Jewell had four good centre halves to call upon, but Moore was only ever left out once. Evidently his manager’s first choice centre back, Moore was a key part of a wonderful defensive unit. And in a team of stars, it was notable that Moore was the only City player who was named in the division’s PFA team of the year. Moore also chipped in with some useful goals that season.
Sadly, he left under a cloud the season after. During the summer after promotion, Moore, Wayne Jacobs and Robbie Blake became embroiled in contract disputes. But whilst Jacobs and Blake resolved their issues, Moore was sold to Portsmouth in November, having not being selected for a single Premier League match. The close season arrival of David Wetherall had blocked Moore’s first team path.
Moore did eventually get to taste top flight football with West Brom and Derby County. And more recently he undertook his first role in management, being harshly sacked by the Baggies last season. Whatever the future holds for him, Moore will be long remembered by City fans for his fearless displays in claret and amber.
25. Joe Cooke
By Ian Hemmens
Following just behind Ces Podd was the powerfully built, fearless Dominican born Joe Cooke. Starting as a strong centre back, Cooke was part of a possibly record breaking last game of 1972 when City were the first team to field three black players in a game – a rarity in those days – along with Podd and Wingrove Manners.
Cooke was immensely popular with the City faithful and later was converted to a powerful goal scoring centre forward. His goal in 1977 against Bournemouth clinched promotion.
After moving up the ladder with a couple of moves he returned to Valley Parade for a second spell. ‘Big Joe’ was a formidable sight in action.
24. James Meredith
By Tim Penfold
It remains one of the great scandals of the last few years that James Meredith did not get his own chant. One of several excellent signings made in the summer of 2012, Meredith came from York City with a promising reputation and soon showed why.
He was a fine, committed, strong defender who got up and down the left flank very well. Injury and illness hampered him initially and cost him a chance at the 2014 World Cup, but from 2014 onwards, despite a contract issue and the signing of Alan Sheehan to replace him, Meredith was indispensable at left back.
Under Phil Parkinson he was an integral part of the best defence I have seen at City, and under Stuart McCall he relished the extra freedom to get forward. We’ve not replaced him yet.
23. Sean McCarthy
By Ian Sheard
Sean McCarthy played for Bradford City in the early 90s. Signed for a massive £250,000 by John Docherty before Frank Stapleton took over. It was during this time that I attended my first game at Bradford City which I believe was against Reading. We won, I fell further in love with City and the tall, lanky, blonde with a number 9 on his shirt.
I would compare McCarthy more recently to Lee Mills and possibly James Hanson, from what I can remember as a 9 year old boy! I was gutted when we sold him to then Premiership Oldham for £500,000 and seeing them lose 3-2 to Manchester United with McCarthy scoring. I always thought he should’ve stayed and continued his partnership with Paul Jewell.
60 goals in 131 appearances puts him at a decent ratio. Super Sean McCarthy!
22. Andrew Davies
By Ian Hemmens
One of my favourite players of the more modern era, ‘Dava’ was a fearless, brave centre back who along with Rory McArdle, Stephen Darby and James Meredith formed a wonderful back line who could be relied upon week in week out.
Davies’ display at Wembley, in which he and McArdle snuffed out the dangerous Akinfenwa and Platt in the play off final, will live long in the memory. His bravery was legendary and many a time he would return to the pitch, his head bandaged up to protect yet another head wound. Amongst the players he was very popular and a prankster of legendary proportions.
With his style of play, injuries would inevitably take their toll but you were guaranteed 100% whenever Davies was on the pitch.
21. Lee Mills
By Gareth Walker
Signed from Port Vale in the summer of 1998, Lee Mills became City’s first £1m player. On hearing the news of him signing a friend of mine spoke to a Valiants fan who laughed. His opinion was that if we got a focused Mills then he’d be decent but more than likely we’d get a hit and miss player, and he was more than happy with banking a million quid.
As it turned out nobody could have predicted the huge contribution that Millsy made and he went on to more than repay that sum in his first year at the club alone. He struck up arguably one of the best strike partnerships that this club has ever seen. Alongside Robbie Blake, he scored 25 goals in all competitions and finished as top goalscorer with the club being promoted to the Premier League.
Strong, powerful, great in the air and able to finish with both feet, Mills terrorised defenders. It’s just a shame that his City career petered out in the top flight amidst many a rumour as to why he was moved on to Pompey.
Mills never again reached the heights of that glorious first season at Valley Parade – but my god, what a season it was.
Please leave a reader comment to share your best memories of any of these players, or simply to provide a personal appreciation of what they mean to you.
Categories: 100 Most Popular Bradford City Players