Bradford's road to Wembley
The magic of the cup, giant killing and banana skin are just some of the clichés that have followed Bradford City around in their League Cup exploits this season.
Thursday, 10 January 2013
The League Two side are just 90 minutes away from the hallowed turf of Wembley. The Bantams continued their incredible run with a deserved semi-final first leg victory over Aston Villa at Valley Parade, which on its own would be a miraculous achievement but when you think that they also defeated Premier League opposition in Wigan and Arsenal just to get to this stage then it really is the stuff better suited to the realm of fantasy than reality.
The bright lights of Wembley are a far cry from those of Valley Parade but if there are a set of supporters that deserve a trip to London for a cup final it's Bradford's. I have had the pleasure of spending many an afternoon in the Carlsberg stand watching the Bantams when I attended University in Bradford.
The City of Bradford is very close to my heart for a number of reasons so it is great to see that the people of this great city have something to cheer for. One of the best times I had when living there was going to the first game of the season.
Nothing beats a sunny afternoon in West Yorkshire at a football match singing; "Bradford City! Bradford City FC! The greatest team the World has ever seen!" along with thousands of other fans watching the mighty Bantams beat Notts County 2-1. It was simply brilliant and every time I went to Valley Parade the atmosphere was buzzing and the fans were great, win or lose.
The Bradford City supporters have gone through some amazing highs and devastating lows. The club enjoyed their only FA Cup success in 1911 but most people reading this will best remember them from when they were promoted to the Premier League in 1999 and defeated Liverpool on the final day of the season to escape relegation.
Since then the club have had a torrid time, going through several relegations and financial problems but nothing could compare to the horrors the club faced in 1985 when a fire broke out inside their Valley Parade stadium killing over 50 people and injuring nearly 300 others.
Since then a flag has been draped over the seats of the rebuilt stand which remains closed to supporters in remembrance of those who went to cheer on their team but who sadly never returned home.
The story of Bradford City is filled with many twists and turns but if Phil Parkinson's men can hold onto their lead and come through their semi-final second leg they will have added the latest and most incredible chapter yet.
The Bradford City fans are some of the most welcoming and friendliest fans in football so it is only right they get a cup final at Wembley, both the club and the city deserve it.