Bradford City Football Club
HIGHLIGHTS OF BRADFORD CULTURE, NOMINATED BY HIDDEN BRADFORD
During their spectacular run in the Capital One Cup to get the team to Wembley from the bottom tier of professional football, Bradford City Football Club became known as ‘giant killers’, beating teams put together for millions with their team of a few thousand pounds.
The final saw them lose, but the real story was the reaction of the 35,000 Bradford City supporters who cheered as loudly for their team as if they were winning, all the way through the match. They stayed to see both teams applauded, and made their way home cheerfully with not a single instance of the trouble usually associated with English football fans.
The people who travelled from Bradford to suport the team were described by the national media as a credit to the city, to England, and to football, and showed the people of Bradford in a new light.
We asked Luke Gallagher, who works as media assistant at Bradford City Football Club, what he thinks the football club and its fans show us about Bradford, and how the club contributes to its home city.
Sport, like music, often acts as a kind of glue that brings people of different backgrounds and cultures together, no matter what society they live in. Football is almost certainly the most popular sport in the world and creates many talking points for things that happen within the game and what surrounds the game.
Being a sport however, it definitely has an effect on surrounding environments and communities. Starting here in our very own City of Bradford, people from various cultures and backgrounds living in the City are brought together at least once every fortnight to watch their local football team Bradford City FC.
Bradford, as it is well documented and known nationwide, is a city that is inhabited by people of various ethnicities, therefore the relationships between the people of the city will always be doubted and questioned. But I believe that the common interest and passion of football – and in this case Bradford City – can help a lot towards growing relationships between the people living here. By this I don’t just mean between people of different ethnic groups, but the same as well.
The point I have just made about football affecting relationships will in fact have a direct effect on the atmosphere within the city. If an incident happens of negative nature between groups of people, a negative atmosphere would be picked up on by people living here, so if the relationships between inhabitants are strong, then a positive vibe is spread across the area and makes Bradford a better place to live.
Bradford City’s recent historic cup run has been brilliant for the city of Bradford; the memorable events of this season’s Capital One Cup can make people particularly proud of the fact they are from here. People can stand up and say “Hey, I’m from Bradford” upon seeing news about how well the club have been doing. This is a nice change from the bad press that Bradford has often received in the last decade or so for various reasons.
Very much a community-based club, Bradford City will always offer local youngsters the chance to prove themselves as footballers and work their way up through the academy setup. The club then becomes a potential birthplace as such for homegrown heroes. The majority of the current crop of lads in the youth team are from Bradford or its surrounding areas, and cup semi-final hero and fans’ favourite James Hanson is also a local lad.
Bradford City also offer themselves as a sponsorship base for local businesses to promote and advertise themselves as a useful company and this, of course, helps towards boosting Bradford’s economy financially.
Football in the Community, run from Bradford City, often visit local schools and invite schools to the stadium. This is to keep young children active and keep them in touch with their local football club. Pupils of local primary schools are often invited to the stadium so they can be shown around and given an insight to the club’s history, which keeps them knowledgable about their hometown, which on an educational front is fantastic.
The club have recently started a sport/educational course where young people who have finished secondary school can extend their education and at the same time become actively involved in sport. The youngsters who choose to take part will represent the club playing Futsal (a variant of football) whilst at the same time studying a BTEC course that will help to give them a good start in their career, whether it be continue towards university or begin working life.
Watching Bradford City can lead to family traditions; it is an activity that has taken place through the generations and ever since the club was formed in 1903. These days there are many examples of fans that are very much involved at the club. One example is the fans that are part of the fans’ board at the club. Most recently many of them gave up their own time and effort to help out the club staff in their efforts to sort out Bradford’s allocation of Wembley tickets for the Capital One Cup final.
Leonard Berry (The City Gent) follows the club around the country as often as he possibly can, attending all home matches and a large amount of away matches. He is one of the club’s official mascots and has been in the role for many years. Lenny uses his own passion as a supporter to encourage City fans to get behind their team. These two examples of fans involved at the club, I believe, shows that people living in Bradford possess great passion and dedication and quite visibly so when it comes to sport.
If I were to describe Bradford City fans in one word, I would use the word ‘troopers’, simply due to the fact they have had to go through some emotionally testing times to say the very least. The fire that tragically took 56 lives in May 1985, 54 of which were Bradford fans, had Bradford in mourning and still does. I believe the resilience of the City as a whole to cope with such a tragedy and pick themselves up off the ground shows what a great city Bradford is and what great fans Bradford city have.
On the football field, the Bantams fell from the lofty heights of the Premier League and almost ceased to exist on a couple of occasions which must have been hard for the fans to deal with. The club continued to exist but also continued to fall down the leagues. Times have been hard in Britain financially, but 10,000 fans still continue to watch their beloved team week in week out. I firmly believe that the qualities of great effort and fantastic loyalty shown by this sample of the population of Bradford says a lot about people of Bradford in general.
Image by Steve Walker