In the last few days the talking point among soccer fans in Bradford has been in respect of BCAFC being refinanced with the money of German investors. A hundred years ago there was similarly talk of German money sustaining the club but coming as it did in the middle of war, the suggestion was that it was unpatriotic and an act of treachery for the club to be dependent upon funding derived from German natives.
The club’s connection with Germans went back much further given that the Manningham district was the home to wool merchants of German origin. In the early history of rugby in Bradford during the 1860s and 1870s, second and third generation German immigrants were regular members of local teams, Bradford FC included. However men of German extraction were also influential in the launch of soccer at Valley Parade in 1903 and the financing and management of BCAFC before World War One.
German immigrants played a crucial role in the economic development of Bradford. They were good immigrants: cultured, economically active and assimilated into the wider community and they added considerably to the civic life of Bradford. So too, they played a part at Valley Parade – a number of key individuals were influential in safeguarding the future of BCAFC during the first decade of existence.
The outbreak of war in 1914 led to members of the German community leaving their homes in Bradford to go back to Germany. Many of those who remained were ostracised and chose to be anonymous. In that context, the club’s chairman William Pollack was singled out for abuse. Not only did he cope with the stress of keeping the club solvent during the war, but he also had to deal with being the victim of personal attack because of his ancestry. When he died in November, 1916 it was suggested that all told the pressures had caused his early death.
The rivalry with Bradford FC at Park Avenue was akin to a blood feud and the relationship of the two clubs was bitter to say the least. It is a fair bet that many of the jibes about BCAFC being kept afloat by the money of an enemy came from Bradford FC supporters whose grudge about Manningham FC / BCAFC had always been that the Manningham club was unpatriotic.
It seems fitting that as we approach the centenary of Pollack’s death there should once again be talk of German money invested in BCAFC.
The full story of the first Germans at Valley Parade and the bitter rivalry is told in LIFE AT THE TOP, the sequel to ROOM AT THE TOP
***24-jul-16 *** I have been informed of research that suggests Wm Pollack may have committed suicide in 1916 – Bradford cemetery records disclose that he was buried in an unmarked grave at Scholemoor.