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bradford city

11 May 1985 was one of the most unpropitious days in the history of Bradford and an unforgettable day for the Bradford City Football club fans in particular and for the people of Bradford district in general.

It was a day which might have been a day of celebration for Bradford city fans as it was expected for Bradford City to be promoted to the first division of the football league. Instead it turned out to be a day of grief and mournfulness for many families who lost their near and dear ones as a result of the worst ever fire in the history of British football. It occurred during a league match in the presence of more than 11000 spectators. The match was being played between Bradford city and Lincoln city when at 3.00pm a small fire was noticed three rows from the back of Block G. Due to the wooden structure, the blaze quickly spread engulfing most part of the stadium. The spectators did not have much time to escape and a few of them were trapped in the burning fire. As a result, 56 people lost their lives and about 270 were seriously injured.

The news of this colossal tragedy sent shock waves through the length and width of the United Kingdom. In no time, the sympathy calls and letters from all parts of the country as well as from abroad began to pour in the office of the Chief Executive of Bradford Council.

1273570360_882I heard the devastating news at about 3.30pm and drove straight to the Valley Parade ground but was unable to gain access to nearby streets of the stadium as there were a large number of emergency services’ personnel who were busily enganged in extinguishing the fire and transporting the injured to local hospitals. However I was able to see the clouds of smoke and the vehicles of fire brigades from the top of Manningham Lane.

Since I was an elected member of the Council and was going to be installed as the Lord Mayor of the city ten days later on 21st May, my first priority was to ensure that every possible support was readily available within the Council’s departments for the families of the victims. In this regard I found the then Chief Executive, Mr Gordon Moor, extremely helpful and sincere and highly professional in leading the Council so successfully at this critical time. Two days after the disaster a charitable trust was established by the Council to support the families of the victims and those who were injured and were receiving treatment in the burns unit of a hospital in Wakefield.

On assuming the office of Lord Mayor on 21st of May, my first two weeks were devoted, in the main, to deal with some post shocks of the tragedy. I attended many of the church services held for the deceased. At one particular service when three bodies of teenage members of a family were in the church, the affliction of the catastrophe was so obvious, intense and visible that disturbed me and my wife to the extent that we had to reflect and cancel our next engagements for the day.

The incident at Valley Parade was of such grave concerns to the Government, the Home Secretary decided to appoint the Inquiry Commission headed by Mr Justice Popplewell to look into the question of future safeguards of football grounds in the whole of the country with a particular reference to the Bradford fire disaster. The findings of the Inquiry Commission recommended the introduction of new legislation to improve safety at our football grounds prohibiting wooden structure together with other fireproof measures.

Three decades may seem to be a long time to continue our reflections on the incident, but the pain and agony still continues to dwell in the minds and hearts of those Bradfordians who lost their sons, brothers, husbands and fathers and grandfathers.

The author is the former Lord Mayor of Bradford, Mr Mohammed Ajeeb, CBE

Following their amazing win at Chelsea at the weekend, Phil Parkinson’s Bantams have been given a home tie with either Premier League side Sunderland or Championship club Fulham following Monday’s F.A Cup Fifth Round draw.

854772_heroaSunderland and Fulham will meet again at Craven Cottage a week on Tuesday after drawing 0-0 in their original fourth round tie at Stadium of Light on Saturday.

The draw was shown live in the club’s 1911 Club in front of join-chairman Mark Lawn, a selection of players and supporters, plus members of the media.

Fifth round ties are scheduled for the weekend 14/15 February 2015.

As Phil Parkinson’s players wake up to sore heads after a celebratory night following their dramatic win over Premier League leaders Chelsea yesterday, Bradford City co-chairman Mark Lawn is already eyeing a dream date with one of England’s most celebrated clubs, Manchester United.

_80497574_bradfordOn a day that witnessed many shocks in the FA Cup, Bradford City were no doubt, the talk of the nation as they left Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho feeling “ashamed of his players” after conceding a two goal lead to ultimately losing 4-2 to a club that is 49 places behind the three-time winners of the Premier League.

Lawn told BBC Sport: “We’ve just beaten Barcelona. We’ve just beaten a team that is as good as Barcelona.

Phil-Parkinson-Bradford-City“Wait until you see the fourth goal, you’ll think we were Chelsea!

“It just goes to show Match of the Day should have us on telly all the time, because we score you goals.

“This game meant we broke even. We had a million pound overspend this season. Let’s have Manchester United in the next round now.

“Phil Parkinson inherited the worst squad we have ever had when he started here.

Chelsea-v-Bradford-City-FA-Cup-Fourth-Round“I’ve been watching the team since 1964. When he came in we told him this is the worst team we’ve seen up here.

“His first job was to keep us in the league but we have had steady progress since then.”

Depending on whether Louis van Gaal’s Red Devil’s get past Cambridge United in their FA Cup replay, the eyes of the nation will no doubt be on Manningham Lane in Bradford if the Bantams get their dream date with United at Valley Parade!

Bradford City delivered a five star performance last night to demolish 10 man Millwall FC 4-0 in their FA Cup third round replay at Valley Parade.

City, League Cup finalists in 2013, dominated their Championship visitors, scoring three first-half goals after defender Mark Beevers was sent off.

_80276411_bradfordcityAn estimated crowd of 12,000 were in for a special treat by Phil Parkinson’s men who started the match with confidence and a desire to quickly overcome their opponents.

Millwall were reduced to ten men after only five minutes when Mark Beevers was given a red card for bringing down James Hanson as he looked to race through, latching onto a long pass by Rory McArdle. It didn’t take long for the Bantams to capitalise and it was James Hanson who found the opening goal.

Millwall’s defence quickly conceded a second as a set piece again proved their undoing when Filipe Morais’s free-kick was headed down by Andrew Davies for Stead to sweep home.

The away side’s frustrations bubbled over soon after as a foul by Millwall skipper Alan Dunne prompted a melee between both sets of players that also resulted in Bradford manager Phil Parkinson and his assistant Steve Parkin being sent to the stands for their reaction to the initial challenge.

_80276341_bradfordcityBut, even without the presence of their manager on the touchline, Bradford continued to dominate a sorry Millwall side, who did not muster a shot on goal until the 85th minute.

The hosts added a third through Halliday’s close-range finish before the break before Knott capitalised on poor defending to seal victory in the second half.

Four goals was more than enough for The Bantams and the full time whistle confirmed a very comprehensive victory against Ian Holloway’s out of sorts’ side. The victory confirms that it will be Phil Parkinson and his team of players who will make the trip to Stamford Bridge a week on Saturday to take on the ‘special one’ Jose Mourinho and the likes of Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Oscar. This is what the FA Cup is all about!

Bradford manager Phil Parkinson:

“There was a big prize at stake, to get the club into the fourth round for the first time in 15 years, so the tie at Stamford Bridge, we wanted to achieve that and we focused on the factors that would help us.

“I said to the lads at half-time I had to apologise for that [being sent to the stands] because I had to ask them to keep their cool and stay on the pitch.

“But I’m glad it didn’t ruin a great night. The lads didn’t need us on the touchline anyway. It was nice and quiet for us in the stands.”

 

 

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BCAFC

By Ansar Javed

For a true footy fan, the war between the Roses that took place centuries ago in the medieval times is very important. The milestone that marks the territory in between them is territorially marked with dirty water by the hound supporters of both sides. Such a bitter following can also be seen at a match in a local Derby, where neighbours living in one street, become martyrs or traitors just by wearing a different coloured scarf.

Cities such as Manchester become two nation footballing arenas in their rivalry. Such peculiar are the loyalties, that no disrespect to those who wear the red and never wish to walk alone. The Reds know pretty well that Mancunians from the City become United at the same time when they clash either one of them. They both join hands and wish that Liverpool would perish in the Mersey and be extinct like their stupid Liver birds. It is a must for every blue blooded fan to be at such a Derby between two local teams whenever it happens. Your steel is tested when you are a season ticket holder and have been also travelling to the away matches sitting in the falling sleet on your knees that feel cold as the carcases in the butcher’s fridge by the time the final whistle blows. In my case, according to a younger British born Pakistani friend of mine,

I fit the category of an aging coconut! They say that miserable people wallow in the company of those who are equally as miserable! For me being a Bantam has been nothing more depressing then supporting a team that has been historically losing week in, week out for decades. Drinking after the game must help I bet, right? Fred! But I wouldn’t know. Where does that leave me, a Pakistani Muslim supporter of an imbalanced mind and of an imbalanced team? ‘God help you.’ I hear you say, ‘God help him!’ Actually dealing with it, is a bit like being a terminal patient, who knows the reality of his destiny. Mortal blows below the belt become mere nudges of the passers-by. You really have no choice but not give up till the game is up. You get used to putting your head down and walking alone with thousands of other illogical thinkers that walk the sidewalks with you, avoiding eye contact, sharing the same fate and hoping for a miracle that never takes place. At home, the comforts of your home taunt you no less.

I remember the clockwork conversation that used to take place between myself and my youngest teenager. ‘Lost again?’ He used to ask, ‘Why do you support these losers?’ Why, oh why? He was no different to any other Premiership armchair supporter wrapped in the luxury of unreal success possessions and pride. I tell my long suffering heart that one day, one day our turn will come, I should say re-turn will come. In the meantime, empathy won most of the matches and was well and truly settled in. It had now for years made its home in the well of miserable Manningham, at the Valley Parade. Was there in reality any hope of this team ever getting any better? It certainly provided comedy material to the pundits of the day.

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A laughing stock for the insensitive individuals who made fools of us especially on the small screen in HD no less, for which we had bloody paid for through our noses. In the past, in the good times of the bygone era, we had seen the giddy days of Premiership and like the poor England hopeful national team; it had had some proper heavy silver wear in its cabinet. As it happened such a long time ago, you were forgiven if your visits to the club shop made you feel you were visiting a museum. In football, in the lower rungs of the league, you have to be a hardy soul. As another season ends on a low leaving you drained and empty, you keep looking to see if there is a light at the end of a tunnel.

Same old questions keep getting repeated, same old answers are regurgitated but nothing of any comfort takes shape. Nothing really clicks! Then out of the blue like the super characters of a fairy stories, lighting and thunder arrive in tandem. Yes our fortunes were to turn. Those that cackled at our sorry souls were forced to join the unfamiliar queues to get in that sodding stadium with us. This time there was an uncanny hush before this thunderous bang snapped, no different to an appearance or an occurrence of a minor miracle I imagine. Phil Parkinson had slipped in the shadows unnoticed.

A wafer thin figure, an unknown name was in the ground. He did not enter as a knight in a shining armour; in fact his entrance was questioned. Even the eagle eyed Social Media supporters, who hear whispers with bat ears, see with sharpness of the eyes of a Tibetan mountain eagle. The ultimate commentators, the ruthless critics and bisectors of the beautiful game had also missed the importance of his arrival.

They had missed an important entrance of a man that was to change their fortunes once again. This time more dramatically than ever. A man of the moment with a mammoth task that the likes of their blue eyed golden boys such as Captain Stewart McCall, the legendary Bryan Robson and England U-21 manager Peter Taylor had failed to achieve.

To say that we had lost our direction would be an understatement. We went bankrupt. How City survived the fall is significant for the supporters of this ancient club. We needed someone to steer us out the rot we had come to settle in. We needed a man that would follow the roller coaster careers of Chris Kamara and his successor Paul Jewell of the late Eighties, a novice manager but who produced some magical sleight of hand and showed the determination that took Bradford club to the peak in its heydays.

Parkinson must have impressed the Directors, yet we had lost faith in the system. When you do that you become cynical and negative. We thought in their desperation yet again they had made a mistake in picking this one out of the hat.

Once here, slowly but surely Parkinson started to re build Bradford. Not in a flashy way like Peter Taylor before him or emotionally like McCall.

He was smart, steady, clinical, cool, calm, methodical and very different. Oh boy how we needed someone like that.

Yes he must be the chosen one!

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