In recent weeks, I’ve been listening to old Bantams Banter podcasts starting from the very first one. I’ve just reached the end of the first season. Christ, how depressing things were a few seasons ago. We let in goals for fun, half of the team didn't care about the club, the manager was pretty much clueless, and as a result we very very nearly fell out of the Football League.
On the pitch we were woeful and off the pitch there were murmurings that we’d have to leave Valley Parade and play our home games up at Odsal. Imagine that, Bradford City, a non-league team playing their home games at a big hole in the ground at Odsal Top. I wonder how big the crowds would have been, if we’d even survived at all.
Many of the podcasts from that season are set to a background of booing from the home crowd. At times Dom & Tom sound almost suicidal (example below) and their rants about the team sum up how we all felt at the time. It was an absolutely awful time to be a supporter of Bradford City and pretty much everything was miserable. Even our kit was an eyesore.
Last night, four seasons on from then, we got beaten 1-0 by Chesterfield. This was a game where the winner would find themselves elevated into the playoff positions with a view to going up into the Championship. It was a disappointing result, a mistake cost us dearly, and it was a below par performance. We all sloped off to bed feeling a bit miffed, some City shirts were probably launched into the corner of the room in anger.Cats got kicked. It’s football after all, we all get a bit emotional.
I’ve got a problem with some of the emotion though. Some of it is completely over the top and I think a bit of perspective is needed. Us City fans can be a bit dramatic with our reactions and since last night, I’ve read posts and tweets lampooning Hanson, Zoko, Yeates, MacKenzie, Mezza, the midfield, the defence, the lack of pace, the crowd, and Parkinson. Crap, rubbish, useless, clueless, f*cking dreadful, dire are a handful of the descriptions I’ve seen. A bit harsh wouldn’t you say?
Let’s just take stock. This is our second season in League One and we’re still (just about) in the running for the playoffs. We’ve been to the quarter finals of the FA Cup. We pulled off the biggest FA Cup shock of all time to get there. We have players that blatantly care and will run themselves into the ground for the shirt. They march over and cry with the fans when they’re knocked out of the cup. We have a good squad and money to strengthen it. We reached a major Cup Final a couple of years back. Our fans make the best noise and make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Our crowds grew by more than 3,000 last season. We have the second highest average attendance in the League. We have the best club colours, stand out and look superb. We have a smart young manager who understands what the club means to both the City and to the supporters. We still have a club and they still play at Valley Parade.
We are Bradford City. As such it is a fact of life that things do not always go our way. There will be wobbles and frustrations. We’ll go from joy to despair. Sometimes, it’s like being in a relationship with an abusive partner. Despite that, our star is very clearly on the rise and as long as that is happening, we should be sticking with the club and players not bleating on about how bad it is. Rebuilding the club into an established Championship side, in my eyes our rightful position, is going to take time but it is clearly happening.
We have been spoiled in recent years and we have it good right now. A promotion, two Wembley trips, a cup run and some giant killings thrown in. That is all great, but being a Bradford City fan means taking the rough with the smooth. I think we all need to remember that, take a step back and have some perspective. We all have a right to moan and vent, but some of it has gone a bit over the top if you ask me.
Anyone who has any doubts about how good we have it now, I’d urge you to go back and listen to that first season of podcasts. #13 v Barnet, a 3-1 reverse stands out as a particularly awful day’s work by our players at the time.
It ain’t that bad now, is it? Let’s stick with them.
James Pieslak (@jpieslak)