Somewhat bafflingly, the Bradford City Club Shop doesn’t have a single mirror. Not the smartest move for a shop selling clothes that people might want to try on. As a result I probably look like tiny Billy Clarke in Gary MacKenzie’s massive shirt when I put the new City top I bought yesterday on but here’s the thing – I wasn’t remotely surprised.
You see, our club is a little bit crazy and last night was further evidence of that theory. A magnificently unpredictable season continued as we put Donny Rovers to the sword 3-0 with a ruthless second half display.
When I say unpredictable, I mean performances like last night coming on the back of the lacklustre displays like the one against Chesterfield. I mean like losing at Yeovil before heading to Stamford Bridge to stick four past Chelsea. See Fleetwood/Oldham, away to Orient/home v Walsall this season as further evidence. Our history is littered with Jekyll & Hyde weeks like this.
As the dust settles on the Donny result, two things are emerging as constants amongst the madness though. The first is the imperiousness of Mr Gary Daniel Liddle. The second is the impact that our unbelievable support has on the players in this long hard season.
Last night, Gary Liddle was immense. I’d also like to throw in towering and magnificent so that you really get the picture. He set the tempo throughout and was the fulcrum for our attacks. He broke up play, providing a sense of calm when Donny tried to attack and he covered every blade of grass (and patch of mud) three or four times. When the ball falls to Liddle everything seems fine again. His ball to Hanson in the build up to the second goal was much more than an aimless punt upfield and the way he snapped into a late tackle with Furman positively made the crowd wince. For him it was bread and butter. Winning his battles is bread and butter. It’s something he does week in week out. I read this week that the name Gary is dying out, but if Liddle continues in this vein, the name will live on in Bradford.
Gary Liddle is everything that a deep-lying midfielder should be, and he is everything a City player should be. Calm in possession, intelligent, strong, a great passer, aggressive, brave and passionate. He’ll run through a wall to win the ball and we are very lucky to have him. Although there were many performances that stood out last night; MacKenzie, Hanson and Knott in particular were fantastic, for me Liddle gave City the platform from which to go out and get the points.
The other constant is our support. Last night, we accounted for over 25% of the crowd but we generated 95% of the noise. Throughout the game, our lads in claret and amber were backed by a wall of almost never-ending support. At 2-0, with Donny pressing and our minds starting to turn to those infamous last minute jitters the fans stayed with the players and as a result the players gave more back.
Looking around at our fans packing out the away end, with heads thrown back as they shout loud and sing in unison makes me beam with pride. Contrasting that with the empty seats at the Keepmoat brings it home even more. A Bank Holiday game against another Yorkshire team with playoff potential at stake, and Doncaster Rovers totally failed to back their team. For the City fans, our backing was never in doubt. We were coming in numbers, to #bethedifference and we weren’t going to be silent onlookers. We were brilliant. We are always are and I think we should all pat ourselves on the back today.
I’ve written elsewhere about the special bond between the fans and the players but it was in existence last night in a big way. As we sing louder, the players run harder. I’m not as naive as to think our support won the game, that is down to the players and the way that PP sent them out for the second half, but I know who I’d want to play in front of if I was a footballer.
So Donny over, it’s onto a massive home game against Preston North End on Monday. I’m trying to get the wife to let me go as we’re supposed to be driving down south early-ish on Monday. After that, we’ve got a seven-game run in with many of the top teams to play. Knowing City, we’ll win them all. Or we’ll go and lose them all. Or WLWLWLW. Nobody knows because we’re bloody crazy.
In the light of that general craziness let’s all try and make a few pledges.
Fans – keep on being brilliant.
Players – keep battling to the end.
Club – get some mirrors in the shop.
Everyone – tweet @carlyry and ask her to let us stay for the game.
If we all do the above, that’ll do for me.