Reinventing Bradford City

A brand new Bradford City book tells the story of the club’s remarkable modern history, featuring interviews with the likes of Phil Parkinson and Stuart McCall – and you can order a copy via the Bantams Banter shop.

Reinventing Bradford City has been written by Jason McKeown, who explains more about the book here.

Exactly 30 years ago, Bradford City were recovering from the trauma of the Valley Parade fire and playing home games across the other side of the city, at Odsal stadium, home of Bradford Northern (now Bulls).

The events of May 11 1985 were traumatic for everybody, but for many of those affected, the continuation of Bradford City – who had just been promoted to the old Second Division – aided the recovery and provided something positive to focus on. In the words of Stuart McCall, “Even though football should be irrelevant, to a lot of people it wasn’t. They just wanted to get back to watching City and especially watching them in the Second Division.”

City’s time at Odsal was largely an unhappy one, with supporters and the club pushing to return to a rebuilt Valley Parade as quickly as possible. In December 1986, they returned to their home, with an England XI providing the opposition for the first game back at Valley Parade. It was an emotional afternoon for so many reasons.

These difficult events have paved the way for an extraordinary 30-year period in Bradford City’s history. They have spent the past three decades climbing up and down the divisions, experiencing some of the biggest highs and a number of painful lows.

  • In 1988 they almost reached the top flight for the first time since the 1920s, only to blow the chance of promotion at the final hurdle.
  • In 1999 they finally went one better and reached the Premier League after a memorable victory at Wolves on the final day.
  • They remained in the top division for two seasons – beating the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea – before overreaching themselves financially with dire consequences. Cue a six-year fall to the bottom tier, with two spells in administration along the way.

Now Bradford City are on the march upwards again. Under Phil Parkinson, the Bantams reached a major cup final at Wembley in 2013 when still a League Two outfit, defeating Premier League heavyweights Arsenal and Aston Villa along the way. They lost the final to Swansea but were back at Wembley three months later to gain promotion via the play offs. In League One City are currently looking upwards, and last season enjoyed another incredible cup run that included the astonishing 4-2 victory at Chelsea.

Since City’s return to Valley Parade in 1986 it has rarely proven dull, that’s for sure.

And this remarkable period in City’s history has been captured in the latest book from BantamsPast. Reinventing Bradford City tells the story of these 30 years around 12 key matches.

Reinventing Bradford City tells the story through the eyes of people who have lived through it. The book includes interviews with 30 different people connected with the club, including Bantams legend Stuart McCall and current boss Phil Parkinson. Other interviewees include James Hanson, Jamie Lawrence, Andrew Davies, Terry Dolan, Lee Duxbury, Michael Flynn, Julian Rhodes and James Mason. As well as City players, managers and directors, local journalists and supporters are interviewed too – including a certain pair of toerags who podcasted on some of the games! The book also features a foreword from BBC Radio 5Live’s Chief Football Reporter, Ian Dennis.

Reinventing Bradford City can be ordered via the Bantams Banter shop. It is also available in Waterstones, WH Smith, Salts Mill and the Record Café. The book is 100% non-profit. All proceeds will be donated to the Burns Unit. 

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