A 1-0 victory in the final home game of the season means that we have beaten our points total for last season. Well done lads. A brilliantly taken goal from Jon Stead was the difference, but it was the ball into Stead from Billy Knott that was the game’s one moment of real quality. What a ball it was. Better than the one he attempted with the outside of his foot in the second half, which turned into a shank into the Midland Road. I'll vote for that in 'Miscue of the Year' at tomorrow's awards night.
Other than that, the game was keenly-fought but always had a slight end of season feel to it. My other points of note are: my fanboy love for Gary Liddle taking another step towards the obsessive after a great performance at centre half, Tony McMahon’s excellent display in the centre of the park, and how solid City looked.
That’s the match report done really. The focus was quite rightly on the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the fire disaster, and at Valley Parade on Saturday the tone was – as ever – just perfect. Absolutely perfect.
The whole day was beautifully observed by both sets of fans and players, and I think I speak for everyone who has anything to do with Bradford City when I say a massive heartfelt thanks to Barnsley FC for the part their staff, players and fans played. They were a credit to their club and somehow helped bring even more dignity to the day.
Yes, there was a moment of slight confusion when a couple of Barnsley supporters were told to erm… shush… just before the silence took place. There was no question at all that they were threatening to ruin the silence or disrespect the moment, they were clearly caught up in a bit of chatter and chanting, and the ref had not yet blown his whistle for the silence to start. The admonishment brought a few chuckles, and a round of applause went around the ground. Yorkshire banter you might say.
Before the game, the group of walkers who had hiked the 30-odd miles from Barnsley, as well as Graham Duckworth and his merry band of hikers who had made a 73-mile trip to Valley Parade from Lincoln got a great reception. Both groups were joined by supporters from both clubs by the time they strode (and hobbled) up Manningham Lane. Football uniting to remember something so much more important than who is best at kicking a ball around a large area of grass. Superb. We’ve seen the same all season, lovely gestures from the world of football, and we saw it at grounds up and down the land this weekend. Well done and thank you, football.
At the memorial outside the ground, the scenes were perfect – scenes of quiet remembrance. Dads and sons, brothers and sisters, and groups of friends quietly honouring. A number of other clubs and organisations had sent bouquets of flowers and cards. It was all conducted perfectly.
A number of charity initiatives were happening outside the ground. People giving up their time to raise money for the Burns Unit. The lovely @jegolton was selling her superb prints (see www.bantamsart.co.uk for more) and I saw Gav the Bantam somewhere amongst a melee of people scrambling to get their hands on a Bantams flat cap. These people give up hours of their time to do this, and I’m genuinely bowled over by them.
Inside the ground, the atmosphere was reflective. Dignified. Scarves and voices were raised for You’ll Never Walk Alone. We paused for the minute silence, as did the world of football. I couldn’t take my eyes off a lady in a bright blue jacket who was sat just about where the fire started. I wonder if she knew that.
And then the game started and football took over for the afternoon. The occasion was never far away from everyone’s minds and you could sense it in the atmosphere. It is an extraordinarily difficult day but it was honoured how it always has been, will be, and should be. Perfectly. Well done everyone.