The end of textile manufacture at Salts Mill, 1986

In 1985 I bought my first SLR camera, an Olympus OM40 and quite recently I came across prints of my early photography. On this blog are photos from when I worked in Salts Mill helping to count the stock pending sale to Drummonds in around April, 1986 which preceded the closure of the mill.

Whilst most were of the spinning sheds there are also shots of the area that currently accommodates the Hockney Gallery, diner and retail units. It is a long way removed from the environment of The Diner at Salts, a favourite haunt of my family for Sunday breakfast or lunch. [Link here to the Salts Mill website]

Back in 1986 I got into trouble for wandering off taking the pics but I am glad that I did. It was a poignant experience to witness the closure of the business and the end of a chapter in the history of the mill. It was also a massive privilege to be able to see the final workings of textile manufacture in Saltaire. The financial burden of Illingworth Morris (who owned Salts of Saltaire) was the upkeep of the mill and for all we knew, it was destined either to be demolished or left to rot. Indeed, maintenance of the physical infrastructure of Salts Mill had already been cut back to minimal levels of upkeep. No-one could imagine that someone like Jonathan Silver might revitalise it in a new creation.

The plant and machinery was antiquated and much would have been at least fifty years old, probably more. By then the most recent capital investment and renewal would have been at least ten years’ old. Tellingly, the bulk of that constituted Italian or German machinery whereas it was the older equipment that carried the names of textile engineering companies in Bradford, Keighley or Halifax.

(*I have another selection of images from around the same time of a spinning mill in East Ardsley which will be uploaded shortly and these show the antiquated machinery.)

Salts Mill in June, 2020
The front of Salts Mill from Victoria Road, Saltaire in June, 2020
Salts Mill 1986

I am sharing these old images as a record of local history. Whilst I have no objection to them being circulated on social media I would ask that I am credited and a link provided to this site. More of my photos from the era will be uploaded to Twitter (@jpdewhirst) and to this blog also. Anyone wanting to see a far better standard of Bradford mill photographs, including of the final days of Salts Mill as a textile factory, should look for the work of Ian Beesley and in particular his compilation Through the Mill.

My apologies for the condition of my photos. Although I have been able to scan from the original negatives, some are discoloured by streaks of light shading which I assume arose from the roll of film being prematurely exposed to light.

Being sentimental about the mills…

It is tempting to glamorise the old mills and mourn their loss. Indeed, the demise of the textile industry wiped out much of the character and tradition of places such as Bradford, Huddersfield or Halifax like other northern towns across the Pennines. Hence the sentimentality for the old mills like that for old football grounds or railway stations of a long gone era. These photographs serve as a reminder of how decrepit they had become and, as with football grounds such as Valley Parade, they were probably also unsafe.

It is now difficult to imagine that in a past life the mills were loud and often inhospitable places. Many of the old mills that survive offer such sanitised environments – such as Salts Mill – with urban living, chic dining and boutique shopping. Others have similarly been converted to new trendy offices. Yet the working conditions for textile manufacturing were altogether different and frankly unpleasant with the noise, airborne particles and humidity to contend with. In earlier decades those conditions would have been even worse.

The expansion of third world competition from the 1960s meant that textiles became a race to the bottom with low wage rates and short-termism. By the 1970s many businesses were clinging on to survive another year and few had a long term vision. The industry was much contracted by the end of the 1980s but economies of scale proved elusive and by the end of the 1990s it had virtually disappeared. Twenty years ago I worked in one of the last remaining textile firms in Bradford and saw for myself the final demise of the industry as major UK retailers opted for foreign production to keep prices low. All that remains now is the physical footprint of how they shaped northern towns and cities such as Bradford.

It is frightening to think what could have become of Salt’s Mill had not Jonathan Silver rescued the estate and replicated what had been achieved at Dean Clough, Halifax. In 1986 for example Salt’s Mill had a very uncertain future with no guarantee of survival. Indeed, by the mid 1980s old mills were being demolished at an accelerating rate and others were disappearing through arson and falling apart through disrepair or abandonment. What was lacking was the imagination to find alternative uses for the structures – once demolished it was too late and it is difficult to argue that the sheds or brownfield sites that stand in place of old mills have necessarily enhanced the urban environment.

I believe that the above photograph was taken where The Salts Diner is now situated.

The final images are of Saltaire in 1987 by which time the mill was standing empty prior to its re-incarnation…

Thanks for visiting my blog, the content of which is mainly – although not exclusively – about Bradford City AFC. I am interested in local history and in particular industrial, sporting and railway history but you will also find content about my favourite band, The Stranglers. The above menu at the top of the page gives access to content published in the BCAFC matchday programme, features on local history as well as my reviews of sundry sports books that have local coverage.

I have unearthed other old photographs that I took of Bradford as well as my travels in the Soviet bloc around this time and will upload those also on an ad hoc basis. For something else completely different, you can find my photographs of the DPRK from this link.

Refer to the menu above for links to other blog features.

I tweet photos from @jpdewhirst many of which feature Saltaire. During lockdown I am remaining within walking distance of home in Moorhead and hence my photography will be of local sites.

*** Details of my new book (2020) in collaboration with George Chilvers: Wool City Rivals – A History in Colour which tells the story of the rivalry of Bradford City and Bradford Park Avenue in the Football League, 1908-70. Copies of my other books in the bantamspast History Revisited series can be purchased in the Salts Mill bookshop when it reopens after lockdown.

Saltaire station in 2020.

Football in a police state: 1FC Lokomotive Leipzig, 1987

My photos of Leipzig from 1987…

The 1980s was a time of football violence in Britain but I never imagined that I would witness anything as bad in the DDR, the police state behind the Iron Curtain.

During lockdown, whilst clearing out old possessions, I came across my photographs taken at the Bruno Plache Stadium in Leipzig for the fixture between 1FC Lok and their Saxony rivals Wismut Aue in May, 1987. There were no restrictions on my photography but I was deliberately discrete in my efforts to document the match day experience. Nevertheless it did not go unnoticed that a westerner was taking photos and no doubt someone reported it.

Most people came to the ground in a shuttle service of rickety fans. On the return trip the tram that I was on was rocked from side to side by Wismut fans. I feared that it might be knocked off its rails but thankfully we got back to the centre of Leipzig safely.
Supporters outside the ground swapping programmes and artefacts. There was particular interest in souvenirs from Leipzig’s games in European cup competitions. Jeans were ubiquitous, the fashion for football fans east and west but women were few and far between.
Entrance to the Bruno Plache Stadion, named after a pre-war Communist politician.
Despite a visible Volkspolizei presence they were generally ineffective and didn’t stand in the way of terrace fighting. In fact it seemed as though crowd trouble was tolerated to a degree, maybe even considered a means for young men to let off steam. Whatever the policy, if compared to the West Midlands Constabulary in England at the time, the Volkspolizei treated fans with kid gloves. It was not what I expected in a state known for its internal security apparatus.
Volkspolizei positioned to prevent a pitch invasion.
Friends in Sport! Contribute to the maintenance of security and order!
The atmosphere was generally relaxed albeit punctuated by occasional outbursts of violence.
There could not have been more than eight thousand fans in attendance, a poor attendance for the leading side of the DDR’s second city. Besides, Leipzig had a decent team and earlier in the month had been beaten by Ajax in the final of the European Cup Winners Cup in Athens.

By contrast high profile fixtures attracted big crowds and European games for example were played at the Zentralstadion in Leipzig which had a capacity of one hundred thousand (see photos at bottom). In 1987 I would have estimated the capacity of the BPS to be no more than twenty thousand.
The main stand was wooden, dating back to the opening of the ground in 1922 and in its current guise since 1932.
The design of the main stand was quite charming and distinctive. However, twenty-four months after the Valley Parade fire I couldn’t help but question the safety of the stand and the potential for disaster. Smoking was at least forbidden.

Feature on the Bruno Plache Stadion on Wikipedia

In February, 2020 on this blog I published my recollections of East German football in the years immediately preceding the collapse of the wall in 1989 and in particular about 1FC Lokomotive Leipzig.

Elsewhere on this blog you will find content about the history of Bradford City, my features in the BCAFC match day magazine as well as book reviews. Refer to the drop down menu at the top.

Details here of my latest book, Wool City Rivals a collaboration with George Chilvers (Volume 7 in the bantamspast History Revisited series).

I have rediscovered old photos from my travels behind the Iron Curtain and time in the GDR in the 1980s and I am tweeting them on an ad hoc basis.

Tweets: @jpdewhirst

The Zentralstadion opened in 1956 with its terrace banks developed from war rubble. This was extensively renovated and re-opened in 2004, a venue for the 2006 World Cup. Since 2009 the new stadium has been the home of Leipzig Red Bull. These photos were taken in 1987 by which stage it was becoming rundown. The floodlights were as impressive as the terraces with their wooden benches.
Leipzig fans dressed in ubiquitous denim and displaying allegiance for SV Hamburg. The terrace fashion and the mullet haircuts were little different to those across the intra-German border although the quality of footwear and denim brands would have betrayed the Ossis.

Wool City Rivals: A History in Colour

I am delighted to say that our new book which I have co-produced with George Chilvers has now been published, the seventh volume in the bantamspast History Revisited series.

Full details of the book and of how to order from the bantamspast website.

Books are dispatched by Royal Mail and during December we have become aware of delays arising both from Christmas post as well as lockdown post backlogs. For that reason we advise Xmas orders to be made  asap. For BD postcode destinations, orders received up to and including Tuesday 22nd December will be guaranteed delivery by 24th December. 

Tweets: @bantamspast @Garswoodlatic and @jpdewhirst

BCAFC programme feature: vs Cambridge United 19th December, 2020

Football programmes have traditionally been a staple of the match day experience, historically a collectable for many supporters. At Valley Parade, programmes have been produced for first-team fixtures since 1909 and the sale of single sheet team cards dates back even further. This season the match day magazine celebrates the rich heritage of old programmes from earlier years and today’s issue is based on the design from 1972/1973 when we first played against Cambridge United.

Cambridge United were elected to the Football League in 1970 at the expense of Bradford Park Avenue who had been forced to make a fourth consecutive application for re-election having finished bottom of Division Four (for the third time in a row). Four years later, Bradford PA went into liquidation and in 1980 its ground at Park Avenue was finally demolished.

There had been voices within the Football League arguing that there should be only one senior club in Bradford and that it made no sense for the city to have two struggling sides. The Chester Report of 1968 that made recommendations for the future of English professional football came to the same conclusion and even within Bradford, the leadership of the Corporation had tried to encourage a merger of City and Avenue.

Merger talks stumbled on the indebtedness of the two and the argument that amalgamation of struggling clubs did not guarantee that a new combination would be successful. Indeed, there was a recognition that the missing ingredient was money to provide much needed funding.

In the first half of the 1960s it seemed that Avenue might be the club that would survive and that City would disappear. However, under the chairmanship of Stafford Heginbotham it was City that staged a revival and the turnaround at Valley Parade benefited from people abandoning Bradford Park Avenue. A new chairman at Park Avenue, Herbert Metcalfe did little to persuade the doubters that recovery was possible and it came as little surprise when the club was voted out of the Football League.  

The programme cover at Valley Parade between 1966-74 featured the City Gent character which was actually based on Heginbotham himself and in 1972 it was printed in the all-claret strip that was worn that season. At Park Avenue the club had its ‘Avenue’Arry’ character but it was never used to the same extent as at City.

Meanwhile at Valley Parade, Bradford City were promoted to Division Three in 1968/69 and remained at that level until relegation in 1972. Hence our final League derby with Avenue was in 1968 and we didn’t host Cambridge United until March, 1973.

Bradford Park Avenue are now virtually forgotten. Despite supporters having reformed the club in 1988 it has made little progress in the non-League pyramid and attracts relatively low crowds with very few younger supporters to ensure future continuity.

Nowadays it is common for people to abbreviate Bradford City to ‘Bradford’ when referring to the club but historically, it was Bradford (Park Avenue) who were known as Bradford and there was acute sensitivity that it should be anything else but. The brackets in the club’s official title was the clue – the suffix of Park Avenue being adopted to avoid any possibility of confusion with Bradford City.

Traditionally Park Avenue had been the home of the senior club in Bradford. From 1880 until 1903 when Manningham FC at Valley Parade converted to soccer there had always been an intense rivalry with Bradford FC of Park Avenue.

Of course, Cambridge United is not the only club in that city and in the 1960s it was their rivals, Cambridge City who were considered the stronger of the two. I am sure that abbreviation of club names in Cambridge is equally a sensitive matter!  

The menus above provide links to features written by myself in the BCAFC programme during previous seasons.

Link here to galleries of historic BCAFC programmes on this blog

Link to feature about the historic development of the BCAFC programme since 1909 published on VINCIT.

In Celebration of a traditional Bradford football Christmas

Boring Stan, the Park Avenue fan by Tony Hannan

Reproduced from Bradford Park Avenue Fightback! pub. by The City Gent, 1989

Tony Hannan is nowadays better known as a successful author and publisher as well as editor of the monthly RL magazine, Forty20. Thirty odd years ago he had established a local reputation as a cartoonist with his work published in the Telegraph & Argus. In 1988 as editor of The City Gent I encouraged Tony to produce Bernard of the Bantams, a comic with a number of cartoon strips about Bratfud football which ran to about half a dozen issues between 1988-90. Boring Stan the Avenue fan is possibly the best remembered of the characters and the cartoon above was produced for a special one-off publication produced by The City Gent to help encourage interest in the revival of Bradford Park Avenue.

Tony Hannan tweets as @AJHannanEsq

The last major development at Valley Parade

The final stage in the development of Valley Parade began in 1999. After the opening of the Midland Road stand on Boxing Day, 1996 Geoffrey Richmond separately announced plans to expand the ground by adding a second tier to the Kop and the main stand. It seemed incredible that the club should be contemplating such a venture. Sadly it came with a huge cost.

The Kop scheme was first publicly discussed by Richmond in April, 1998 with planning permission granted the following November after negotiations had been concluded with residents of Rock Terrace. Plans for redevelopment of the main stand and the North-West Corner were announced in August, 1999 although planning permission was not granted until March, 2000.

A further planning application was made in February, 2000 for the main stand to run the full length of South Parade (including the building of new changing rooms) but this was eventually withdrawn by BCAFC. The implications of this expansion for road closures and traffic movement was considered politically unacceptable and with existing opposition within Bradford MD Council, Richmond backed down. Interestingly however, financial constraints were not declared to be a factor in his decision.

The Kop opened in August, 1999 and then the North West Corner on Boxing Day, 2000. The main stand was finally completed the following year by which time Bradford City had been relegated from the Premier League.

Valley Parade had been redeveloped with debt finance and the eventual insolvency of the club resulted in the loss of freehold ownership. BCAFC was left with a stadium that has since rarely been filled, the loss of its principal asset and a huge rental liability and that has been the backdrop of the past twenty years. The following photographs record the final redevelopment of the ground.

kop 2000

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Scan_20200301 (5)

Scan_20200301 (7)

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main stand 2000

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Scan_20200301 (15)

Scan_20200301 (16)

Scan_20200301 (22)

Scan_20200301 (23)

Scan_20200301 (42)

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My thanks to Kieran Wilkinson for additional information.

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)

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

BCAFC programme feature: vs Carlisle United 5th December, 2020

Football programmes have traditionally been a staple of the match day experience, historically a collectable for many supporters. At Valley Parade, programmes have been produced for first-team fixtures since 1909 and the sale of single sheet team cards dates back even further. This season the match day magazine celebrates the rich heritage of old programmes from earlier years and today’s issue is based on the design from 1977/1978 when we were rivals with Carlisle United in Division Three.

Following promotion to Division Three in 1977 the club decided that it needed to modernise the design of its programme and invited supporters to contribute suggestions. What was introduced represented a radical new look with a major shift in layout based around the inclusion of recent action photographs. By today’s standards the innovations were primitive but nonetheless they represented a major overhaul for the Bradford City programme.

As a matter of necessity, during the second half of the 1970s the club became more adventurous in seeking new money-making opportunities which culminated in the launch of its successful lottery operation in 1978. The programme was identified as a source of advertising revenue and it was this that encouraged the redesign to include visually impactful adverts.

The 1970s was an age of inflation and this was reflected in the upward movement of the price of the programme. From a cover price of 5p (equivalent to one shilling) in 1973 it had been increased to 10p in 1974 and then 12p in 1975. In 1977 the price went up by 25% from 12p to the princely sum of 15p. Those price rises continued, to 20p in 1978 and then 30p in 1980.

The reader could be forgiven that despite cosmetic changes in design, the programme represented poor value for money. In 1977 the size of the programme remained sixteen pages but the editorial content was diminished. In 1978, probably to justify another price increase the size of the programme was further increased to twenty pages but by 1979 it was reduced back to sixteen pages whilst the price remained 20p.

The standard of the Bradford City programme in this era compared unfavourably with those of other lower division clubs and limited effort was committed to its production. Although price increases generated more income, by 1981/82 this amounted to only £9,611, equivalent to less than 2.5% of the club’s total revenue. Nevertheless, the readership remained relatively high, averaging between one in three and one in four spectators at Valley Parade and between 1975/76 and 1981/82 annual average match day sales of the programme fluctuated in the range 1,100 – 1,700.

The menus above provide links to features written by myself in the BCAFC programme during previous seasons.

Link here to galleries of historic BCAFC programmes on this blog

Link to feature about the historic development of the BCAFC programme since 1909 published on VINCIT.

BCAFC programme feature: vs Cheltenham Town 1st December, 2020

Football programmes have traditionally been a staple of the match day experience, historically a collectable for many supporters. At Valley Parade, programmes have been produced for first-team fixtures since 1909 and the sale of single sheet team cards dates back even further. This season the match day magazine celebrates the rich heritage of old programmes from earlier years and today’s issue is based on the design from 1974/1975 when we were members of Division Four.

Long forgotten opposition

In 1974 Bradford City introduced a new club crest and with it, a bold new design for the match day programme cover (although the format of content remained much the same as before). The new identity was inspired by the branding of the new Bradford Metropolitan District authority that came into being the same year. The design was supposedly the work of a club employee on the back of an envelope. In those days there was no reliance on graphic artists but by the same token it was relatively easy to introduce a new club identity. Given that it had limited application it was a much less complex task to change the club badge. In fact, other than on club stationery, season tickets and a narrow range of merchandise it was the programme where the new graphic would be seen the most.

Chairman Bob Martin had hoped to go further than change the crest. Earlier in the year he had been thwarted in his attempt to rename the club ‘Bradford Metro’ to promote a new unified identity for Bradford football after the final collapse of Bradford Park Avenue.

There has been a remarkable turnover of clubs in the fourth tier since 1974/75. Of the opposition that season, we will meet Mansfield Town, Cambridge United, Exeter City, Newport County and Scunthorpe United at the same level in 2020/21. Five clubs are now members of the second tier: Rotherham United, Reading, Brentford, Barnsley and Swansea whilst six are in the third: Shrewsbury Town, Lincoln City. Northampton Town, Doncaster Rovers, Crewe Alexandra and Rochdale. However, as many as seven clubs are no longer members of the EFL: Chester, Southport, Hartlepool United, Torquay United, Stockport County, Darlington and Workington.  

Games with the latter category were a regular staple of fixtures at Valley Parade during much of the post-war period and games with Stockport in particular were historically passionate affairs.

The menus above provide links to features written by myself in the BCAFC programme during previous seasons.

Link here to galleries of historic BCAFC programmes on this blog

Link to feature about the historic development of the BCAFC programme since 1909 published on VINCIT.

BCAFC programme feature: vs Oldham Athletic, FAC 3R 28th November, 2020

Football programmes have traditionally been a staple of the match day experience, historically a collectable for many supporters. At Valley Parade, programmes have been produced for first-team fixtures since 1909 and the sale of single sheet team cards dates back even further to the rugby era before 1903. This season the match day magazine celebrates the rich heritage of old programmes from earlier years and today’s issue is based on the design from 1986/87 when we played against Oldham Athletic on just four occasions.

We have played Oldham more than any other side in the Football League and this is the 114th meeting of our sides in a competitive fixture and the second of this season. To date Oldham have won 46 and we have won 34 of those games. Taking into account league games only, we have played each other 100 times which is less than against Port Vale (101) or Stockport County (102, 1903-2011).

In the FA Cup this is the fifth time that we have been drawn together with the Latics. The previous occasions were in the First Round in 1950/51 when Oldham won the replay at Boundary Park; in the First Round in 1955/56 when City won the home tie; in the First Round in 1962/63 when City won at Boundary Park and then in the Third Round in 1986/87 when City were victorious in the replay at Valley Parade.

The programme for today’s meeting is based on the FA Cup tie played on 19th January, 1987. Of all the games against Oldham Athletic it was probably one of the most memorable. At the time City were bottom of the second division and Oldham were in second place. Things were pretty desperate at Valley Parade and manager Trevor Cherry had previously been sacked on 5th January with Terry Dolan assisted by Stan Ternent taking charge of the team for the cup tie at Oldham five days later. That game was drawn 1-1 with Stuart McCall the scorer. The replay had been scheduled to be played the following Wednesday (14th) but was postponed and eventually played the next Monday (19th).

Terry Dolan had been in charge of the team for the home game against Millwall on the preceding Saturday (17th January) and he proved to be a talisman with City winning 4-0, only the sixth win that season. Two days later it was followed with a thumping 5-1 victory over Oldham Athletic and the result on that cold night in Bradford was one of the shocks of the round, earning a Fourth Round tie against Everton at Valley Parade.

The cup win proved something of a turning point for City, for despite losing 0-1 to Everton later that month the side won 9 and drew 5 of the 19 remaining games to finish 10th in the table, the club’s highest position since 1934. It was a springboard for the following season when City challenged for promotion, eventually eliminated in the play-offs in May, 1988.

After the fire disaster in May, 1985 first team games were played variously at Elland Road, Leeds Road and Odsal. Valley Parade remained abandoned and although it was not used for competitive fixtures or public friendlies, it did stage reserve games. The Oldham match in January, 1987 was the first cup tie played at the rebuilt Valley Parade. On 14th December, 1986 the ground had been formally re-opened with an exhibition match between Bradford City and an England XI and defeat against Derby County on Boxing Day in the first league game back at Valley Parade proved to be the last home defeat of the season. Subsequent to that, and prior to the FA Cup tie, there had been a draw with Birmingham (Cherry’s last game in charge) and the win against Millwall. 

Following the reconstruction of the club in 1983 the production of the match-day programme was considered a low level priority at Valley Parade and even after promotion to Division Two in 1985 there was minimal change to the overall standard of the publication. Covers apart, there was little to distinguish them from one season to the next prior to 1988/89 when it was given something of a makeover. The covers remained unchanged during the respective campaigns and word-processing technology was yet to make its impact.

The menus above provide links to features written by myself in the BCAFC programme during previous seasons.

Link here to galleries of historic BCAFC programmes on this blog

Link to feature about the historic development of the BCAFC programme since 1909 published on VINCIT.


BCAFC programme feature: vs Exeter City 14th November, 2020

Football programmes have traditionally been a staple of the match day experience, historically a collectable for many supporters. At Valley Parade, programmes have been produced for first-team fixtures since 1909 and the sale of single sheet team cards dates back even further. This season the match day magazine celebrates the rich heritage of old programmes from earlier years and today’s issue is based on the design from 1962/63 when played Exeter City in Division Four.

Exeter City and Bradford City did not meet until the 1961/62 season when we were rivals in Division Four. Previously Exeter had been members of Division Three (South) and the club had been a founder member of the new national Division Four in 1958. City by contrast had finished in the top half of Division Three (North) in 1957/58 and thus became founder members of Division Three but were relegated after three seasons.

The 1961/62 season is remembered for the Bantams having narrowly missed promotion to Division Four, finishing fifth after a remarkable recovery at the beginning of February, winning 15 of the remaining 19 games and losing only twice. During the course of that sequence City defeated Exeter at Valley Parade in April, 1962 by 5-1.

To describe the programme of 1961/62 as basic would be something of an understatement. Comprising just eight pages it was distinguished principally by its colourful cover which had remained unchanged for the preceding four years. As a consequence, the cover design did not reflect the change in playing strip in that period with the team having forsaken a claret shirt (with amber facings) for an amber shirt with claret pinstripes.

The programme had just three pages of reading – a formal club comment of no more than 300 words, a page of supporters’ club gossip of similar size and then a page with brief biographies of the opposition team. A list of fixtures and results for the first team as well as the reserves, team line-ups and a section to record the half time scores comprised the rest with adverts on each page.

The same programme design and cover was retained for the 1962/63 season. Just as the year before, City had a poor start to the season and when Exeter came to Valley Parade on 1st December, 1962 the two sides were both near the foot of the table and the game was something of a four-pointer. Exeter’s 3-2 victory that day (watched by only 3,885) allowed them to draw equal on points with City who dropped to 21st position. Unfortunately, the season ended with City second to bottom of Division Four and forced to apply for re-election.

On the Saturday preceding the Exeter game City in December, 1962 had triumphed 3-2 over Gateshead in the FA Cup. Not surprisingly, the club commentary in the Exeter programme was dominated by talk of the cup draw and the prospect of playing Newcastle United (managed by former City player, Joe Harvey) in the Third Round, a welcome distraction from the struggle at the bottom of the league table.

The Newcastle tie was scheduled to be played at Valley Parade on 5th January, 1963 but in fact never took place until 7th March when City were unceremoniously defeated 1-6. In fact, the game with the Magpies was the first for the Bantams in more than ten weeks. Postponed originally due to the weather and an exceptional cold spell, the tie was further delayed because the city was placed in lockdown to deal with an outbreak of smallpox. Competitive fixtures at Valley Parade, Park Avenue and Odsal were cancelled as a precaution which meant that when the lockdown was lifted there was fixture congestion for Bradford sides. Unlike 2019/20 however no league fixtures were cancelled such as that which had been scheduled to be played at Exeter at the end of March, 2020.  

The menus above provide links to features written by myself in the BCAFC programme during previous seasons.

Link here to galleries of historic BCAFC programmes on this blog

Link to feature about the historic development of the BCAFC programme since 1909 published on VINCIT.