The Barnsley / Bfd City rivalry

My column in the BCAFC match day programme v Barnsley, 11-Aug-18

Modern day games between Barnsley and Bradford City have been relatively infrequent and notwithstanding the county rivalry have been fairly low key affairs. However, before World War One the rivalry was defined by the FA Cup and the famous fourth round contest between the sides.

As just about every City supporter knows, in 1911 the FA Cup was won by the Bantams – or the Citizens / Paraders as they were variously referred to in the press. The year after, the trophy remained in Yorkshire having been won by Barnsley who defeated West Bromwich Albion in the final. In 1910, Barnsley had been defeated in the final by Newcastle United who City vanquished in 1911.

Barnsley’s triumph followed a quarter-final victory over Bradford City but the tie was only decided in the third replay after the first three games had finished goalless. In the end, City succumbed 2-3 after extra time in front of 38,264 spectators at Bramall Lane.

It was a contest that commanded much coverage in the regional press and the attendances of the second replay at Elland Road and that at Bramall Lane bear witness to the interest that was generated. Indeed, the crowd of 31,910 represented a new record for a game hosted by the then Leeds City club. Equally, the attendance at Bramall Lane was not far off the 39,146 record at Valley Parade set the previous year for the quarter-final tie with Burnley.

What was striking about Barnsley’s achievement was that it involved no fewer than six replayed games with replays also in the first round, semi-final and final stages. Like City, Barnsley had a strong defence and conceded only four goals in winning the FA Cup (of which two scored by City).

Barnsley won the FA Cup as a second division club and never competed in the first tier until securing promotion to the Premier League for a solitary season in 1997. Like City, Barnsley never repeated the FA Cup triumph yet whilst the Bantams competed in the top division for ten seasons between 1908 and 1922 (excluding the period 1915-19 when the competition was suspended), Barnsley’s subsequent league record has been much better than that of Bradford City with 78 out of 110 seasons since 1898 spent in the second tier compared to City’s 29 in the second and 12 in the first out of 105 seasons since 1903.

In my opinion the reason for City’s historic underachievement was the fact that the club was forced to compete for support in the city with Bradford (Park Avenue) AFC and Bradford Northern RFC. The record of Barnsley is demonstrable proof of what a club the size of Bradford City should be able to achieve and I would hope that both clubs will be competing at a higher level in the not too distant future.

John Dewhirst

John’s book A HISTORY OF BCAFC IN OBJECTS is on sale in the City Shop. In future issues of The Parader he will feature objects that tell the history of the club. If you have a City artefact in your possession that you would like him to feature or provide background about, contact him at johnpdewhirst at gmail dot com or tweets @jpdewhirst
John has written widely about the history of sport in Bradford: Articles by John Dewhirst on the history of Bradford sport

Elsewhere on this blog you can find his programme articles from earlier games this season and last.


Details here about the new bantamspast History Revisited book by Jason McKeown and other volumes in the same series: BANTAMSPAST HISTORY REVISITED BOOKS


Discover more about Bradford football history at

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