20. Dean Richards
By Jason McKeown
One of the best defenders to ever play for Bradford City. And a Bradfordian, who successfully emerged through the youth ranks. Dean Richards was a classy centre half who played Premier League football for six years.
Richards burst onto the Valley Parade scene in 1992, making a goalscoring debut at the tender age of 17. Richards quickly became a regular at the back. The standout player in a Bradford City side that was hampered by the club’s lack of ambition and financial strength during the early 90s.
Eventually he was sold to second tier Wolves by Geoffrey Richmond in 1995. The proceeds of the £1.8 million raised used as a building block for the Bantams’ late 90s resurgence. In total Richards made more than 100 appearances for the club.
Curiously, Richards’ rise to the top happened in line with City’s. As he established himself at Wolves, City were promoted to the same division. Richards signed for Premier League Southampton in the same summer the Bantams reached the promised land. Only Richards would last longer at the top, with Tottenham spending £8 million to bring him to White Heart Lane in 2001.
Sadly, Richards had to retire early in 2005 due to health concerns. And he died at the age of just 36 in 2011. Such was Richards’ grace and character, City fans always rooted for him wherever he went.
A Bradford lad who did everybody proud.
By Jason McKeown
Edinho was my first Bradford City hero. A Brazilian striker who Chris Kamara signed in February 1997, he brought an exotic flavour to an already international-looking Bradford City. He took the club to his heart, and became a huge fans favourite for his excellent attitude and no little skill.
His goals towards the end of the 1996/97 were vital in keeping the Bantams in Division One (now the Championship). And what made each goal more of an event was his memorable repitoire of celebrations. His first, in a vital away win at Oldham, a skip and a dance around the pitch reminiscent of Morecambe and Wise. Several others involved a dance. He had so many celebration ideas in his locker.
Edinho continued to lead the line over the 1997/98 season. He was skillful on the ball, relishing taking defenders on. He had a powerful shot and for a relatively short striker was excellent in the air. Edinho was also the master of winding opposition players up. He played with an aggressive edge that occasionally went too far. His diving was outrageous. But it all added to his cult hero status.
Despite struggling to learn English, Edinho and his family embraced Bradford life and were regularly seen around the city. He developed a taste for Guinness. He attended fans forums. At every home game, I would turn up early just to get his autograph.
Eventually City’s financial wealth allowed them to sign better strikers, and Edinho was quietly moved on during the 1998/99 promotion season. But for the way he played with so much enthusiasm, and his success in front of goal, we Bradford City fans remain full of love for our very own boy from brazil.
18. Bruce Bannister
By Ian Hemmens
In the late 60s/early 70s, Bradford born ‘Banny’ was City’s glamour player. A wonderfully skilled, very mobile striker capable of spectacular goals such as his infamous overhead kick winner against Barnsley at Valley Parade in 1968.
A great team player, Bannister served his home town team well before moving on to Bristol Rovers, where he became nationally known as part of the ‘smash and grab’ partnership with Alan Warboys. He became a bit nomadic after that, before becoming a successful businessman back in Bradford.
17. Chris Waddle
By Phil Abbott
Arguably the most technically gifted footballer ever to have pulled on the City shirt, Chris Waddle provided fans with some incredible moments whilst wearing the claret and amber shirt.
‘That’ goal against Everton at Goodison Park and the first-half goal direct from a corner at Huddersfield remain two of the most memorable goals in a generation. Whilst Waddle only played for the club for six months, he quickly established himself in folklore with the Bantams faithful, playing a significant part in City’s 1996/97 survival in the second tier, under Chris Kamara.
Whilst his tenure was short (and therefore limiting his position in the top 100), many fans reminisce of his contribution to the club with great pride, such were the number of times he thrilled supporters with his mesmerising skill.
16. Rory McArdle
By Nikhil Vekaria
In his five seasons at Bradford City, Rory McArdle gained hero status amongst supporters. Signed on a free after release by Aberdeen, the Northern Ireland international appeared on paper to be a good bit of business. However, his time at City exceeded any initial expectations, as McArdle became one of the key men in a Phil Parkinson side that brought the good times back to Valley Parade.
A warrior at the back who wasn’t afraid to put his body on the line, McArdle seamlessly stepped up to League One and remained a key member of two squads that narrowly missed out on promotion to the second tier. Add in the occasional big goal (Villa in the League Cup and the League Two play off final immediately spring to mind) and it’s no surprise to see him so high up in this poll.
McArdle was a defender who gave everything for the cause and would run through brick walls for the badge. A proper defender, who embodied a wonderful few years for the Bantams as well as anyone.
15. Benito Carbone
By Phil Abbott
The most expensive footballer ever to play for Bradford City, Benito Carbone, earning a reputed £40k a week, was one of the highest profile footballers ever to wear the City shirt.
During the 2000/01 season, scoring 10 goals in 42 appearances, Carbone’s exuberant presence, mercurial character and gifted wizardry was both memorable and dynamic. A debut strike in City’s home win against Chelsea promised much for the future. Unfortunately, it didn’t last as, despite his best efforts, City were relegated and there began the notorious downfall of the club.
Moving out on loan soon after relegation, despite his City cameo providing moments of genius on the field, off it, Carbone’s positive status was firmly cemented by his agreement to waive his contractual rights in order to save the club.
An unprecedented way to gain the hearts of City fans? Possibly. An expensive luxury? Who cares: We loved him.
14. Nahki Wells
By Tim Penfold
A few years ago I went to a pre-season friendly at Silsden where the team was mostly trialists and kids. Nialle Rodney was up front alongside some kid from Bermuda who had been let go by Carlisle. Rodney was Peter Jackson’s main target and got a contract, but it was Wells who looked more impressive and scored two, and he was eventually snapped up for Archie Christie’s short-lived development squad.
He took some time to bed in – despite an early goal against Barnet – but broke into the team for an FA Cup tie against Rochdale and scored a stunning winner. From then on, it was up and away for Wells, who instantly clicked up front with James Hanson. This partnership was a perfect combination of raw attributes – Wells’ pace, movement and finishing dovetailing with Hanson’s power and aerial ability.
But Wells wasn’t just about pace – he had superb technique, scoring some wonderful free kick goals, and his sheer work rate got him plenty of goals from pouncing on defensive errors. Seemingly every big moment from the history makers season had Wells involved – from sparking the comeback against Burton in the third round, to scoring against Aston Villa in the semi, to his brilliant play-off semi final performance to his goal at Wembley.
He just got better as he made the step up to League One, with particular highlights being a brace against Sheffield United and a televised treble against Coventry. His departure in January was inevitable, and while his destination and the relatively low fee caused some anger, in time the bitterness has faded and all we are left with is the goals and the memories.
13. Wayne Jacobs
By Ian Sheard
There are those footballers whose names pop up every so often and you wonder with amazement at how long that player must’ve played for the club. The same, I believe, could be said for Wayne Jacobs and his time at Bradford City. Signed by Lennie Lawrence in 1994, Jacobs would go onto to have a career with City which involved…
- Eleven different managers (including when I believe he helped run the team alongside other senior players in 2003)
- One trip to Wembley in 1996.
- Two promotions – including promotion to and survival in the Premiership.
- Relegations back down the leagues.
- A stint as manager.
- Stints as Assistant Manager.
Eleven seasons playing at the club where, no matter who was brought in by the differing managers, Jacobs more on less kept the Number 3 shirt for his beloved City.
Jacobs became a regular face in the Bantams squad and, like us, experienced all the highs and lows the football club went through. A true City Gent who, when it came to his testimonial year, decided to waiver his own fee for the game and instead helped organise a ‘Save our Club’ match v Bolton.
This gesture alone makes Jacobs a True City Legend and who, in my eyes, deserves far more thanks and appreciation for his efforts on and off the pitch than what he gets recognition for. But then again, he would probably defer the praise elsewhere.
12. Ces Podd
By Ian Hemmens
Known to all City fans simply as ‘Ces’, Podd is simply a legend and all time great in City’s history.
I remember Podd arriving at the club as a skinny, spindly winger – very quick and nimble, but raw. He was converted to an attacking full back and in his early days was competing with another promising junior in Steve Harney.
He eventually made his debut in 1971, replacing the injured Denis Atkins, and the two competed all season for the shirt. He didn’t feature much the following season due to the excellent form of Graham Howell, but when he left for Brighton, Ces made the shirt his own for the next dozen years.
Being one of the first black players to player regularly, Podd was to face terrible abuse at away grounds. But I can honestly say, from City fans, I never heard any abuse towards him. Supporters took him to their hearts for his consistency, never say die spirit and proper talent. He could have played at a higher level but was reluctant to leave his safety blanket of Valley Parade. That was to City’s advantage.
Podd saw both relegations and promotions, and he was the first black player to receive a testimonial, where a team of black players was assembled. He owns the club appearance record at 502 games, which personally I don’t think will ever be broken.
Ces, a true ambassador.
11. Stephen Darby
By Nikhil Vekaria
A hugely popular figure during his time at City, Stephen Darby was a key player in the 2012/13 season when City reached the League Cup Final and were promoted to League One at Wembley. His first career goal against Burton Albion in the League Cup third round paved the way for the famous wins against Wigan, Arsenal and Villa.
But defending is what Darby is remembered for. Blessed with wonderful positional sense, strong in the tackle and an exceptionally hard worker, his performances rarely dropped below a solid 7/10. A ‘proper’ defender, he got everything out of the talent he had, and regularly gave highly-rated wingers torrid afternoons, in both League Two and League One.
Darby won seven club awards at the end of the 2013/14 season, showing how appreciated he was by fans and players alike. A natural leader, he captained City for two seasons and gave his all for the cause. A shining example of a player who gave everything he had for the shirt.
You only have to see the reaction to the devastating news of his diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease to see how adored he still is at Valley Parade. Stephen Darby’s name will forever be associated with a wonderful era in Bradford City’s recent history.
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