By Harley ThorneOver the next few weeks we will be taking a look at some of the sides that we will be taking on next season in SkyBet League One, today it's the turn of Bradford City.
Name: Bradford City AFC
Nickname(s): The Bantams, The Paraders, The Citizens
Stadium: Valley Parade
Distance: 216 miles from Bristol.
Last season: 5th in League One.
After a play-off finish last season, Bradford City supporters will be hoping their team can go one better and achieve promotion in the coming season.
In recent years, The Bantams have arguably been known best for their giant killing exploits. In January 2013, they became the first fourth tier club since Rochdale in 1962 to reach the Football League Cup final.
In a run that saw them beat Wigan Athletic, Arsenal, and Aston Villa, they fell at the final hurdle – losing 5-0 to Swansea City at Wembley. It has since been reported that this cup run was worth a minimum of £1.3 million to the club.
That season they were to reach Wembley twice. Their cup final proving good practice for the League Two play-off final, where they this time ran out victorious in a 3-0 win over Northampton Town. They have remained in League One ever since.
Another impressive cup run, this time in the 2014-2015 FA Cup, saw them beat Millwall, Chelsea, and Sunderland, before being knocked out away to Reading in the quarter-finals.
Manager Phil Parkinson, who currently sits at number five in the Football League’s longest serving managers list, was appointed in August 2011.
Though Bradford are renowned as a ‘big club’ in the lower divisions, the team had finished 18th in the League Two campaign prior to his appointment. It took him just the one season to achieve promotion, following the clubs six-year stay in the fourth tier.
Three years in League One have passed and the team have steadily improved year-on-year.
Following a year of consolidation, leading to an 11th place finish in their new division, the club were faced with the challenge of replacing star goal scorer Nakhi Wells – who departed for Huddersfield Town in a deal worth £1.5 million plus add-ons.
The young striker, who had netted 42 goals in 91 appearances for Bradford, had played a key role in the side since Parkinson took over as manager. Worryingly, he finished the 2013-2013 season as their top goal scorer, even though he left the club during the January transfer window.
Though they have yet to see a striker hit the goal scoring heights of Wells, their progression on the pitch has remained impressive. 28-year-old striker James Hanson, a target man by nature standing at 6ft 4 inches, made his 300th appearance for the club in February 2016.
Though you’d be hard-pushed to call him prolific in front of goal, he is certainly renowned as a reliable leader in his team, with praise specifically being given for his work rate and persistence in the final third.
Valley Parade, with a capacity of 25,136, had a highest home attendance last season of 19,317 (September, vs Sheffield United) – a phenomenal turn out for an English third tier game.
The last time Gasheads took the trip to Bradford, in the 2012-2013 season, saw a 4-1 loss for The Gas - on-loan striker Tom Hitchcock grabbing a consolation goal for The Gas.
That season also saw an enthralling game at the Memorial Stadium, a 3-3 draw most well remembered for Rovers centre-back Guy Branston’s debut goal after just one minute, and against one of his former clubs too. Michael Smith and Tom Eaves were also on target for Rovers that day, whilst former central midfielder Wayne Brown saw red.
An impressive 5th placed finish last season suggests that the Bradford City team is heading in the right direction, and under talented manager Phil Parkinson, the target will no doubt be to finish in the play-offs, or go one better and achieve automatic promotion, this time out.
Purchasing your 2016/17 Season Ticket couldn’t be easier
Personal callers are welcome at Pirate Leisure at The Memorial Stadium or at The Supporters Club Shop 199 Two Mile Hill Road Kingswood, BS15 1AZ.
Alternatively Season Tickets can also be purchased over the phone by calling Pirate Leisure on 0117 909 6648 - option 1 (during office hours) or ‘199’ on 0117 961 1772 (during office hours) or online at www.brfctickets.com
Ambulant Disabled, wheelchair users and carers should contact Clare McDonagh directly, either in person or over the phone, on 0117 952 4001.