Valley Parade and the Bradford landscape

It has always been said that Lister’s Mill (below, taken from Carr Lane in Shipley) was the dominant feature of the Bradford urban landscape but arguably Valley Parade comes close as this selection of photographs shows.

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The following were taken from Parkway, off Rooley Lane at the northern end of the M606 looking south towards Baildon Moor. In the top photograph you can see both Lister’s Mill (left) and that other iconic Bradford building, City Hall (to the right of VP).

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These were taken in June, 2020 from the east side of the valley looking west and south-west…

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Contrast with this from 1947…

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The following look south from Baildon Moor with Emley Moor on the horizon and Saltaire / Shipley in the foreground:

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(Spot the tower of City Hall in the last photograph ‘overlooking’ the main stand.)

Other images of Valley Parade from these links:

The development of Valley Parade, 1886-1908 – includes a history of the early development of the ground.

Valley Parade in the 1960s

Valley Parade photos from the 1970s

Valley Parade photos from the 1980s

Photos of the rebuilding of Valley Parade in 1986 – (Part One)

Photos of the rebuilding of Valley Parade in 1986 – (Part Two)

Valley Parade photos from the 1990s

The construction of the Midland Road stand 1996 (Part One)

The construction of the Midland Road stand 1996 (Part Two)

Valley Parade of today (photos taken by myself at the Stephen Darby Testimonial July, 2019)

More photos of today’s Valley Parade (photos taken by myself at the Salford City fixture in December, 2019)

Valley Parade: Then and Now

Other galleries to follow with links updated from here.

The menu above provides links to other features on this website including my features in the BCAFC programme, book reviews and content about the history of Bradford City AFC.

Tweets:@jpdewhirst

Welcome to my blog

Thanks for visiting my blog which was launched to provide an online historical resource about Bradford football and Bradford City AFC in particular. It gets quite a lot of visits through web searches from people wanting to discover the history of the club.

I have written a number of books about the history of BCAFC and additionally have been involved in the production and co-authoring of many other titles. Later this year my next book, an illustrated history of the Bradford City / Park Avenue rivalry is being published as a volume in the Bantamspast History Revisited series. I also write for VINCIT, the online journal of Bradford Sport History.

The drop down menu above provides access to a range of content from my features in the BCAFC matchday programme, book reviews, archive photos of Valley Parade and features on the identity and historic iconography of Bradford City. You can similarly find links to features I have written about the origins and history of sport in the Bradford district as well as about the history of the district itself. There are also my photographs of my favourite band, The Stranglers who I have followed across the UK as well as worldwide – refer ‘Other Stuff‘. (NB My photographs of North Korea can be found at DPRK in the Viewfinder.)

I can be contacted by DM through Twitter @jpdewhirst (also by em: johnpdewhirst at geeeeeeemaillll dot commm) and uploads to my blog are notified through tweets.

Stay safe!

John Dewhirst

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DM twitter: @jpdewhirst to go on mailing list

Details: www.bantamspast.net

Construction of the Midland Road stand (1996) – Part Two

Continued from Part One

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These photos compare the construction of the stand in 1908 with that in 1996…

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Photos from the formal opening of the Midland Road stand by HM The Queen on 27th March, 1997:

1997-03-27 HM Queen at VP

Other archive images of Valley Parade from these links:

The development of Valley Parade, 1886-1908 – includes a history of the original development of the ground incorporating key details previously overlooked in earlier accounts.

Valley Parade in the 1960s

Valley Parade photos from the 1970s

Valley Parade photos from the 1980s

Photos of the rebuilding of Valley Parade in 1986 – Part One

Photos of the rebuilding of Valley Parade in 1986 – Part Two

Valley Parade photos from the 1990s

Construction of the Midland Road stand – Part One

Valley Parade of today (photos taken by myself at the Stephen Darby Testimonial July, 2019)

More photos of today’s Valley Parade (photos taken by myself at the Salford City fixture in December, 2019)

Valley Parade and the Bradford landscape

Valley Parade: Then and Now

Other galleries to follow with links updated from here.

The menu above provides links to other features on this website including my features in the BCAFC programme, book reviews and content about the history of Bradford City AFC.

Tweets:@jpdewhirst

Bradford City Fire Disaster Memorial at Centenary Square, Bradford

Every year on 11th May a memorial service for the Bradford Fire Disaster takes place in Centenary Square, opposite the City Hall. In 2020 the Covid-19 emergency has prevented a memorial service taking place and instead it will be held online (from this link).

The following are my photographs of the memorial in Centenary Square presented by the City of Hamm, unveiled on 11th May, 1986.

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The following features about the disaster commemoration were written by myself and published on the Width of a Post blog:

Remembering the survivors and not just the 56 fatalities published on Width of a Post in May, 2018.

Remembering the 1985 disaster published on Width of a Post in May, 2019.

Deriving strength and inspiration from the Fire Disaster  published on Width of a Post on 8th May, 2020.

Talking with Adrian Goldberg on his podcast about the Fire Disaster, 11th May 2020. 

I encourage people to read this feature, Always Remember about the Fire Disaster by Jason McKeown published in two parts on Width of a Post on 10th & 11th May, 2020:  Part One  &  Part Two .

 

Scroll down for a feature on the fundraising efforts at different clubs in support of the 1985 Bradford Fire Disaster Appeal. [Link here]

John Dewhirst

@jpdewhirst

Valley Parade Disaster Appeal Fundraising, 1985

Disaster appeal memorabilia

During the summer of 1985 there were numerous fund raising initiatives undertaken to help raise funds for the Bradford City Disaster Fund in support of victims of the fire at Valley Parade. There was awareness of the tragedy among supporters worldwide and not surprisingly it received considerable coverage in soccer publications. It was the release of a recording by Gerry Marsden – ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ – that is perhaps best remembered but so too there were numerous fund-raising fixtures arranged across the United Kingdom.


These images testify to the goodwill that was extended to the club and possibly the most high-profile game was the restaging of the 1966 World Cup Final at Elland Road in July, 1985. The game between Bradford City and Manchester United the following month was played at Leeds Road, Huddersfield.

My feature about remembering the 1985 disaster published on Width of a Post in May, 2019.

The following was published on Width of a Post on 8th May, 2020: Deriving strength and inspiration from the Fire Disaster.

Elsewhere on this blog you will find features about the history of football in Bradford – in particular about Bradford City AFC – a number of which have been published in the BCAFC matchday programme. Scroll down for the recent article on Glorious 1911.

The menu above provides links for free, accessible history about BCAFC based on substance rather than soundbites. During the course of researching the origins of sport in the Bradford district I have discovered the extent to which there have been inaccurate and superficial narratives about what happened. I’d go so far as to say that the history has been done an injustice. Hence the intention is that this blog will be developed as a reliable source of historical reference and complements what I have written in my books as well as on VINCIT – Links here to my online articles about the history of sport in Bradford.

John Dewhirst

Updates to this site will be tweeted: @jpdewhirst

Dave Greenfield, RIP

The following is a selection of my photographs of The Stranglers from their world tour in 2019-20 including venues in Tokyo (Nov-19), western Europe (Nov/Dec-19), Lisbon (Jan-20) and then Australia / NZ (Feb-20). Collectively they provide a tribute to Dave Greenfield who sadly passed away at the beginning of May, 2020.

I have followed the band since I was a teenager, seen them on most tours since 1979 and in 14 different countries. Dave Greenfield ‘on his massive swelling organ’ was something unique, irreplaceable and I am so grateful for the music that he helped to create which has been such a big part of my life. I met him on a number of occasions and found him to be a really great guy – friendly, unassuming and down to earth. A real hero.

Rest in peace, Dave.

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The encore at the end of Dave’s last gig, Auckland, New Zealand on 15th February 2020.

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Photos from the band’s British Isles tour in March, 2019

Photos from Los Angeles in May, 2019

John Dewhirst

@jpdewhirst

The first football supporters’ publication in Bradford

This year marks the 36th anniversary of the launch of The City Gent which was released at the end of October, 1984. Yet although it was a pioneering publication it was by no means the first to be produced by football supporters in Bradford. In 1983/84 for example there was the short-lived Bantams Review.

At Park Avenue, the Bradford supporters club published The Kick Off as long ago as September, 1946. The content was relatively bland by today’s standards and the size was modest at only 12 pages. It sold for 3d at a time when the Bradford Park Avenue match programme cost 2d. The poor quality paper attests to the immediate postwar circumstances when supplies were restricted. That a publication of its kind should have emerged at the time is therefore all the more remarkable.

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To my knowledge, no more than nine issues of The Kick Off were produced and it ceased publication midway through the 1947/48 season. Later issues suggested a struggle to find suitable content and it may have proved overly ambitious to publish on a monthly basis.

The publication sought to promote interest in Bradford Park Avenue rather than criticise. Besides, the board of directors at Park Avenue insisted that all editorial content was vetted prior to publication. It was certainly not independent and in later issues there is the suggestion that The Kick Off was exploited by the board as a means to explain, or indeed excuse, club policy.

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I am unsure whether The Kick Off derived its inspiration from existing supporter publications at other clubs but it is equally plausible that the example at Park Avenue inspired others. The most famous title of that era, Gunflash was first produced by the Arsenal Supporters’ Club in the 1949/50 season. If anyone is aware of other such supporter publications I’d be very interested to know.

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At the beginning of the 1967/68 season the Bradford Park Avenue Supporters’ Club repeated the earlier initiative with a new magazine, The Avenue which ran to four issues. The publication was produced by a national company, Supporters Magazines Limited ‘in co-operation’ with the National Federation of Football Supporters Clubs. It came at a time when there was a revival in popular enthusiasm for football (ie post World Cup 1966) and it may not be a coincidence that the style was similar to that of the recently launched Football League Review (then included within club programmes).

Less than 20% of The Avenue was dedicated to Bradford PA affairs and the remainder comprised bland, syndicated content. Notable however is that there was nothing in the editorial that could be described as either contentious or critical of the parent club – this despite its perilous circumstances which warranted independent challenge and scrutiny. As with The Kick Off, the Bradford Park Avenue Supporters’ Club hoped that The Avenue would encourage interest in Bradford PA but it was a half-hearted effort and it seems that the BPASC again struggled to find suitable content. We can also assume from the disappearance of The Avenue that it didn’t sell and presumably that was the case around the country with similar titles at other clubs.

The history of football fanzines has been well documented yet the phenomenon of publications such as The Kick Off, The Avenue and others around the country of the same time has been overlooked. I should be very interested to hear from readers who may be able to cast a light on similar supporters publications elsewhere in the United Kingdom prior to the 1980s. Please DM me on Twitter: @jpdewhirst

John Dewhirst

NB To my knowledge there was nothing like The Kick Off or The Avenue at Valley Parade prior to the 1980s. Launched in 1984 as the publication of the City Travel Club ’73 (Bradford), The City Gent was the first independent magazine to be published by a Bradford City supporters’ group – Link here to background about the origins of The City Gent – whereas Bantams Review that ran to three issues in 1983/84 was a private initiative.

*** New book about the Bradford City / Bradford Park Avenue rivalry, volume 7 of the Bantamspast History Revisited series: The Wool City Rivals: A History in Colour by George Chilvers and John Dewhirst – publication in September, 2020.

To join the mailing list for details em books at bantamspast.net or DM on Twitter @jpdewhirst

Further information will be uploaded to www.bantamspast.net in due course.

Glorious 1911 – 26th April, 1911

In 1911 – only eight years after soccer had been launched at Valley Parade – Bradford City AFC won the FA Cup against Newcastle United in the replay at Old Trafford, Manchester on 26th April. It remains the club’s greatest achievement and a defining part of the club’s identity.

1911 FAC Final replay

Until the emergence of the Premier League in 1992 the FA Cup commanded enormous interest both domestically and abroad and prior to World War One the FA Cup overshadowed the Football League Championship in terms of prestige. Numerous commemorative items were produced to capitalise on the interest.

On 27th April, 1911 under the headline ‘Twas a Famous Victory’ the Bradford Daily Telegraph reported: ‘Never in the history of Bradford has such a sporting triumph been consummated… The eyes of the English speaking world are upon Bradford today; the team have brought honour and glory not merely to themselves and to the club, but to the city of their football adoption.’

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WH Smiths published a team card for the final at Crystal Palace and the other example was published by The Sportsman. The latter is notable for the number of adverts evidently aimed at a London based readership. My understanding is that a single, definitive or official programme was not published until the 1920 FA Cup Final at Stamford Bridge. Hence it is quite possible that these team cards were not the only ones available in April, 1911.

1911 final good scan

The following is an account of the achievement published in the club’s own match day programme:

The 1911 FA Cup success followed in a tradition of earlier sporting achievements by the senior Bradford clubs, most notably Bradford FC winning the Yorkshire Challenge Cup in 1884 and Manningham FC the inaugural Northern Union championship in 1896. However what was unprecedented was the assembly of people – estimated to be 100,000 – who greeted the successful team on its successful return from Manchester to Bradford on 26th April, 1911. That same evening there was a celebratory dinner at the Midland Hotel, the first of many.

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We also remember the fact that two members of the FA Cup winning team were killed in World War One: Jimmy Speirs who had scored the winning goal and Bob Torrance, man of the match in the Cup Final replay. 

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John Dewhirst

The drop down menu above provides links to previous programme articles, archive images, book reviews and features on the history of Bradford sport.

Updates to this site are tweeted: @jpdewhirst

winning goal

 

Classic BCAFC car stickers

Another in the series of Bradford City artefacts – featured below are car stickers produced between 1976-2013.

 

You will find other Bradford City archive images by following the links in the drop down menu above. The links provide free, accessible history about BCAFC based on substance rather than soundbites.

Also published on this blog are my features in the BCAFC programme, book reviews and sundry content about the history of Bradford sport. The menu provides links to other features I have written published elsewhere including on VINCIT, the online journal of Bradford sport history

 

Updates to this site are tweeted: @jpdewhirst

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Construction of the Midland Road stand (1996) – Part One

Following the demolition of the original Midland Road stand in 1952 the ground remained essentially three-sided until the new stand was constructed in 1996. The shed that existed previously had been ‘upgraded’ in 1986 but remained recognisable to what had stood prior to the fire disaster. The shed was well known for its basic TV gantry.

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The shed staged its last game for a friendly between Bradford City and Feyenoord on 28th May, 1996 to celebrate the club’s Wembley Play-Off success two days before. The new stand was used for the first time on 26th December, 1996 and was formally opened by HM The Queen on 27th March, 1997 who was visiting Bradford for the city’s centenary celebrations.

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Pictured below the shed during its final game and on the occasion of an earlier fixture with the improvised TV gantry facilities on its roof.

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More photographs of the construction of the Midland Road stand (Part Two).

Other archive images of Valley Parade from these links:

The development of Valley Parade, 1886-1908 – includes a history of the early development of the ground.

Valley Parade in the 1960s

Valley Parade photos from the 1970s

Valley Parade photos from the 1980s

Photos of the rebuilding of Valley Parade in 1986 – Part 1

Photos of the rebuilding of Valley Parade in 1986 – Part 2

Valley Parade photos from the 1990s

Valley Parade of today (photos taken by myself at the Stephen Darby Testimonial July, 2019)

More photos of today’s Valley Parade (photos taken by myself at the Salford City fixture in December, 2019)

Valley Parade and the Bradford landscape

Valley Parade: Then and Now

Other galleries to follow with links updated from here.

The menu above provides links to other features on this website including my features in the BCAFC programme, book reviews and content about the history of Bradford City AFC.

Tweets:@jpdewhirst