Looking back on Bradford City’s Premier League adventure, 20 years ago.
By Jason McKeown
City 0 Manchester United 4
25 March, 2000
Before the start of Bradford City’s first Premier League season, the club took the unusual step of putting tickets for every single home game on sale. The visit of Manchester United was comfortably the first to sell out. In a season of glamour fixtures, this was the ultimate prestigious occasion.
Manchester United were at the height of their powers. European Champions, after completing the historic treble the season before. The recently knighted Sir Alex Ferguson picked a strong side for the trip to Valley Parade. The famous midfield of David Beckham, Roy Keane, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. And the prolific front two of Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole. It was some occasion for City, with the Match of the Day cameras present to capture the big day.
And the Bantams gave it everything they had. They really did. A week on from the horror show at Coventry, there was much greater purpose and effort. For most of the first half, they battled gamely to try and land a blow on their illustrious visitors. But ultimately, the gulf in class simply couldn’t be bridged.
The runaway leaders took the lead in the 37th minute, after Beckham’s pin-point corner was headed home by Yorke. Three minutes later, Giggs laid the ball into Yorke’s path, and the Trinidad and Tobago international produced a crafty lob over the returning Matt Clarke for 2-0. They made it look so easy.
The truly memorable moment came in the second half, with one of the greatest goals in Premier League history. Beckham again sent over a corner, but this time surprised everyone by floating the ball to the edge of the area. And there was Scholes waiting, to produce a stunning first-time volley that flew into the net. A truly special goal, which even many City supporters rose to their feet to applaud.
In the 79th minute, Beckham found space to fire home a United fourth.
To their credit, City didn’t let their heads drop. Over the final 10 minutes they produced some decent attacks and created several good opportunities. But United stood firm.
It was a strange afternoon as a supporter. Your team had been heavily beaten at home, which is never nice. But it was hard to find reason to criticise the players. They were simply up against a team operating in a different stratosphere. It was one of the best opposition performances Valley Parade had ever seen. One of the greatest teams in the history of English football, performing at its best.
An afternoon to chalk off as an experience. United won all their remaining Premier League games and won the title by 18 points. City’s relegation fate was always going to rest on other fixtures, not on their chances of stopping a team that no one else could.
City: Clarke, Halle (Sharpe 58), Wetherall, O’Brien, Jacobs, Lawrence, McCall, Beagrie, Saunders, Windass, Cadete (Blake 70)
Categories: Premier League Years