A record-breaking season, 1928/29

A HISTORY OF BRADFORD CITY AFC IN OBJECTS

Published in the match day programme: Bradford City v Plymouth Argyle, 16th February, 2019

This season marks the 90th anniversary of one of the most remarkable campaigns in the club’s history when it secured promotion as champions of Division Three (North) in record breaking fashion. It was the reversal of a decline that had begun immediate after the war, relegation from Division One in 1922 having been a major body-blow to the club from which it had not recovered.

During the summer of 1928 the club came close to insolvency but a board restructuring in June that guaranteed new funding allowed Bradford City to survive. There were other changes including the return of Peter O’Rourke as manager. Possibly his most important signing was that of George Livingstone, as trainer in June, 1928. A former Scottish international and player who had represented both senior Manchester clubs as well as Glasgow Rangers and Celtic (in addition to Sunderland and Liverpool), he remains the only man to have scored for both Manchester and Old Firm clubs in respective derby games. There was also investment in the pitch.

The Yorkshire Sports of 28 August, 1928 reported that ‘the ever-recurring bugbear of the ground trouble appears to have been overcome at last by the thorough preparations the playing area has undergone, and an expanse of rich, green grass is the result, while a new track has taken place of the old cinder running track, and many of the terraces have been improved.’ In order to preserve the grass at Valley Parade came the decision that the players should train on the Leyland Lane / Garden Lane field in Heaton.

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How things have changed in the last 90 years!

In 1928/29 Division Three (North) was dominated by two exceptional teams and this was the season in which the historic rivalry between Bradford City and Stockport County was born, one which had a particular intensity for the best part of the next fifty years.

The League games between the rivals were reported to have been particularly tense affairs with 2-1 home advantage in each case. City derived psychological one-upmanship with a 2-0 victory at Valley Parade in the FA Cup Third Round watched by a bumper crowd of 30,171. Yet for most of the season, Bradford City sat behind Stockport County in the table.

City finished one point ahead of Stockport County, winning 27 and drawing 9 out of 42 games. However, what really set the teams apart was the goalscoring record and whilst Stockport managed 111 goals for with 58 against, the Bradford City team scored a new Football League record total of 128 goals (of which 82 at Valley Parade), conceding 43. Albert Whitehurst scored the 100th goal at Chesterfield on 16 March, 1929 and from that stage the club began to target a new record to beat the 127 goals scored by Millwall in Division Three (South) the previous season. It was an era of high scoring and Bradford Park Avenue for instance had managed to score 101 goals in three successive seasons to 1927/28.

The club also set itself new records in 1928/29 with the highest number of goals scored in a League fixture, both at home (vs Rotherham United 11-1) and away (vs Ashington 8-2). The leading goalscorer was Albert Whitehurst (pictured below) with 24 having only joined the club in mid-February and the next highest was Tom Moon with 15. However, it was the mark of a free-scoring team that as many as 16 City players scored in League games and of those, 14 got two or more.

The average League gate at Valley Parade in 1928/29 was 18,551 and this was the highest in the two lower divisions (closely followed by Fulham in Division Three (South)).

A more detailed version of this feature will be published on VINCIT, the online journal of Bradford Sport History in May.

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 that I have written.

Published on PLAYING PASTS in Feb-19: Football clubs and how they fail. (I am presenting a paper on the same theme at the International Football History Conference in Manchester in June, 2019.)

Updates to this site are tweeted: @jpdewhirst 

Feedback welcome: You can contact me at johnpdewhirst at gmail dot com

Thanks for visiting my blog and a special mention to the growing number of overseas visitors.

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Details here about the bantamspast History Revisited book series: BANTAMSPAST HISTORY REVISITED BOOKS

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Excursions to Crystal Palace, 22 April 1911

Railway excursions – My feature in the BCAFC programme v Fleetwood Town on 02-Feb-19

The railways played a major role in the commercial development of football as a spectator sport by making it possible for games to be contested by far apart teams, as well as for those matches to be attended. In 1911 for example the railways allowed Bradford City and Newcastle United supporters to watch the FA Cup Final and newspaper reports document the invasion of the capital by northerners.

As many as 15,000 Bradfordians are understood to have travelled to London on 22nd April, 1911 to witness the FA Cup final and then 10,000 went to Manchester for the replay on the following Wednesday.

Railway companies have historically advertised rail travel for football games and there were adverts in both the City and Avenue programmes through to the 1960s promoting rail travel to/from home games. In 1911 even the Great Western Railway organised special trains to London for the FA Cup Final as evidenced by these surviving handbills.

Comparative excursion tickets from Bradford to London that day cost 11 shillings (11/-) which was a not insignificant amount – nearly half the average weekly wage at the time. Undoubtedly the cost would have deterred a lot of people from travelling and the programme for the Newcastle United league fixture on 8th April, 1911 reported that the City directors tried unsuccessfully to secure discounted train tickets.

Until modern times few people could afford to follow their football club to every away game and historically it tended to be high profile cup games that were associated with mass followings. Such trips were extremely popular and before World War One, both Bradford clubs nominated away fixtures for an annual club excursion.

Elsewhere on this blog is my feature about the day when Portsmouth and Chelsea fans came to Bradford by trains in February, 1912 to attend FA Cup ties at Park Avenue and Valley Parade. You can read more about the historical significance of the railways on the development of Bradford sport by following the link to VINCIT, the online journal of Bradford sport history.

John Dewhirst

I have written widely about the history of sport in Bradford: Links to my features on the history of Bradford sport

My recent article on VINCIT tells the long forgotten story of Shipley FC.

Read about the origins of women’s football in Bradford – feature updated with new images.

Elsewhere on this blog you can find my programme articles from earlier games this season and last. The drop down menu above provides links to archive images, book reviews and features on the history of Bradford sport that I have written.

Published on PLAYING PASTS in Feb-19: Football clubs and how they fail. (I am presenting a paper on the same theme at the International Football History Conference in Manchester in June, 2019.)

Updates to this site are tweeted: @jpdewhirst

 

When Chelsea and Portsmouth came to town…

On 3rd February, 1912 Bradford hosted two Second Round FA Cup ties. Bradford City faced Chelsea at Valley Parade and Portsmouth were the visitors to Bradford Park Avenue.

At the time Bradford City was an established Division One side whilst Bradford was in the division below. Both Bradford clubs could rightly claim to be favourites to progress baseed on league status: Chelsea was in the second division of the Football League and Portsmouth in the second division of the Southern League. Notwithstanding, City and Avenue faced clubs who would be successful in their respective promotion campaigns that season and both came to Bradford with a confidence derived from a recent record of good form.

As was the norm, FA Cup contests attracted particular interest and higher than average away followings. On that day an estimated four hundred visited from the south coast and a further three hundred from the capital. A feature in the Yorkshire Sports provides a fascinating account of the invasion of Bradford that day and describes the party atmosphere among the away followers. It is another illustration of how railway travel became a big part of the football experience but equally it reveals that railway excursions took different forms, from the all-inclusive dining package to the cheap and cheerful carriages with open windows. There might not have been luxury facilities in the grounds but there were definitely premium ways of getting there.

The following is the extract from the paper:

Pompey & Pensioner Football Invasion

Pompey‘ and ‘Pensioner‘ are the pet names by which the Portsmouth and Chelsea football clubs are known within the range of what may be termed the metropolitan influence. How a black sailor boy became symbolical of the one is a matter of history which need not worry one. The figure of a pensioner readily associates itself with thoughts of Chelsea.

Bradford was today invaded by the joint forces of ‘Pompey‘ and ‘Pensioner‘, the naval crew arriving early in the forenoon and the Cockneys coming later in the day.

The Portsmouth 400, who reached Bradford at a quarter to nine this morning, were a brave and hardy lot. They had departed from their port at a quarter to midnight, and all the intervening hours (nine!) they had been on the way, across a country that resembled a huge napkin just home from the laundry.

Cold,’ said one of them, when the suggestion was put to him; ‘I should think we were cold. Why the windows were frozen out of the carriages in which some of us were.’

They came in respectably quiet and well-behaved,’ remarked a Midland Station official, ‘not like ours go away and come back.’ Which sounded like an indictment of Bradfordians. It seems that the trip north from Portsmouth started with 700 people, but three hundred had alighted at other Northern places. The gallant 400 made a raid upon the Bradford restaurants and eating-houses, and having been refreshed they proceeded to give a ‘black and white‘ complexion to the city.

They wandered about the streets, gazing wonderingly at the surroundings, and wearing huge rosettes with streamers attached. Some had black and white umbrellas, and similarly decked top hats. Others had bells and rattles, with which they hoped to celebrate Portsmouth goals. They were a hearty crew, who tested their lung power and sang football songs.

The Portsmouth team, which had been staying overnight at Harrogate, was due to arrive in Bradford at noon and take lunch at the Talbot Hotel, so it was at that hostelry that a sort of headquarters was established, especially as time wore on towards the hour of the kick-off.

Wearing favours of every conceivable shape and size, the motley crowd formed a procession along Market Street, and proceeded by way of Ivegate to Godwin Street. Here they held a council of war, the subsequent outcome of which was to procure a further supply of favours, tin trumpets, drums, rattles, etc from Kirkgate Market.

One excited follower even went so far as to purchase a full-sized mandolin from a dealer in musical instruments. About thirty young fellows of disputable sobriety invaded a well-known cafe. Then the fun began with a race for vociferous supremacy between the cafe orchestra and the Portsmouth serenaders.

An amusing incident was witnessed by several people at the junction of Sunbridge Road with Godwin Street.

A crowd of Portsmouth men encountered a few Bradford followers, one of whom was wearing the local club’s favour.

Immediately he was set on to by the opposition and humiliated by a vigorous rubbing with snow. The incident excited the patriotism of the locals, who unceremoniously laid hands on the ringleader and proceeded, with the aid of a barber’s automatic hair-cutter to relieve the Portsmouth desperado of a large bulk of his hair.

The operation convulsed the small but undemonstrative audience, and particularly so when the Portsmouthite regained his feet with a broad bald patch from the crown to the forehead.

The order of the day for the inner man was ‘Yawkshi duff‘ or nothing, and no doubt the restaurant proprietors found their efforts taxed to the utmost to keep the supply in line with the demand.

My Gal’s a Yawkshi Gal‘ is the password of the Southerners. A juvenile satirist has supplemented this with an insensible ditty, which sounds to the ear like ‘My gal sups port from Portsmouth, poor port from poor Portsmouth is what my poor sport sups.’

It may be added in regard to the Portsmouth excursion that it will be due to leave Bradford at seven o’clock tonight.

The Chelsea trippers, who were estimated at about 300, came in a style which contrasted with the Portsmouth excursion. Their trip was a trip de luxe, with corridor cars and refreshment arrangements.

By a club system the trippers had booked ‘all in’. They were carried, fed, and delivered upon the football field at an inclusive price. Their train was due to arrive in Bradford at 1:38pm, and the return journey was timed for half-past five, so that the excursion was a very smart piece of football interest.

The inclusive charge for the Chelsea trip was 19s, and the Great Northern Railway Company had laid themselves out to make it a thorough success. It may be added that the Chelsea team had their headquarters at the Great Northern Victoria Hotel.

Apropos of the Portsmouth people a battalion of them took charge of the large room of a Manningham Lane hostelry, and passed the time in a ‘sing song‘, two banjoists, whose instruments were decked with the club favours, acting as accompanists.

So merry about the city were these heroes of nine hours’ travel, that one was led to speculate that they will be very tired indeed when they get home, some time tomorrow morning.

What happened next?

Both City and Avenue secured home wins, each by the same 2-0 scoreline and were drawn against each other in the Third Round at Park Avenue. City won that tie 1-0 to meet another second division side, Barnsley FC at Oakwell in the quarter final. The City supporters may have considered themselves fortunate as they had yet to face a Division One team in their defence of the FA Cup (having defeated Southern League champions elect, Queens Park Rangers in the First Round). However Barnsley defeated City to win the FA Cup that season although 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.

The contest with Barnsley 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. Between them the City and Barnsley supporters must surely have made up the largest proportion of those crowds and would inevitably have relied upon railway transport to/from the neutral venues. Similarly in 1911 it is estimated that 15,000 Bradfordians attended the FA Cup Final at the Crystal Palace and then 10,000 travelled to Old Trafford for the replay, again thanks to the railways. [Refer to this link about FA Cup Final excursion trains.]

The importance of the railways

The above account is an illustration of how the country’s railway network was vital in allowing football supporters to watch their teams away from home. In so doing, the railways helped promote the development of football supporting culture. (A recently published feature on VINCIT provides further examples of this theme and outlines the importance of railways for Bradford football: LINK HERE)

Travelling Portsmouth fans had played their part in the introduction of singing at Valley Parade in 1903. The so-called Hello chorus – that was probably still being sung in 1912 – had been inspired indirectly by the Grimsby Town Pontoon choir. On their part, the Grimsby supporters were reported to have imitated the Pompey chimes which had been sung by the Portsmouth followers at Blundell Park in an FA Cup replay in 1902. It was thus the railways that facilitated the viral spread of songs and imitation of behaviours. (More detail on the origins of the Hello chorus from THIS LINK.)

by John Dewhirst

Elsewhere on this blog you can find my programme articles from earlier games this season and last as well as archive images of Valley Parade.

Links to my features on the history of Bradford sport including recent articles published on VINCIT that tell the long forgotten story of Shipley FC and The Origins of Women’s Football in Bradford.

Published on PLAYING PASTS in Feb-19: Football clubs and how they fail. (I am presenting a paper on the same theme at the International Football History Conference in Manchester in June, 2019.)

Updates to this site are tweeted: @jpdewhirst

Hand of Peace

Published in the match day programme, Bradford City v Shrewsbury Town: 29-Jan-19

Thank you to Damian Lightwater for this classy example dating back 40 years – the Hand of Peace wristband, a reminder of the efforts made to combat the growing problem of football hooliganism in the 1970s.

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Despite it being considered a relatively modern phenomenon, cases of ‘youthful exuberance’ and anti-social behaviour at football in Bradford had existed long before and my research has identified cases of rowdyism among spectators going back to the nineteenth century. Old match programmes confirm that it was a recurring issue at Valley Parade.

The programme notes for the game with Doncaster on 3rd October, 1962 implored as follows: ‘Whatever one may think of a decision by a referee or action by a player, the answer is not to throw objects one may lay his or her hand on, and so bring the game into disrepute. Having seen someone throw an object, others are apt to follow suit and the damage is done.’ The following month, the programme for the Rochdale game on 17th November sought an end to pitch invasions and the ‘Supporters Notes’ by columnist ‘Ubique’ conveyed his irritation at the throwing of toilet rolls which had occurred at the Oldham away fixture a fortnight previously. By November, 1963 the programme notes were requesting youngsters not to let off fireworks in the ground.

Bad language had similarly been a perennial issue and the programme from the Everton fixture on 6th November, 1920 referred to Foul Language: ‘Several complaints have been made with regard to objectionable language at Valley Parade, and the directors of the club desire to warn offenders that they are liable to expulsion from the ground. There are more ladies at football matches nowadays, especially on the grandstands, than ever there has been in the past, and we are all delighted to see them, but it is not pleasant for them to have to listen to foul language. This cannot be tolerated and the directors would be glad to receive reports as to the identity of offenders in order that steps may be taken to impress upon them the need for keeping to Parliamentary language when letting off steam.’

By the 1970s the club resorted to membership initiatives as an antidote to hooliganism. In October, 1978 the club introduced a City Gents club, which is understood to have been based on a scheme introduced at Millwall. Members were able to participate in pre-match competitions and penalty shoot-outs, with entertainment organised by ‘Chicken George’ whom then chairman, Bob Martin had met in the USA. The scheme lasted no more than four weeks and was abandoned as a result of a poor take-up and trouble at the Huddersfield fixture in the same month. The Hand of Peace came on the back of this, promoted by ex-England international Paul Reaney and the wristbands were sold for 75p. It was tried at a number of clubs but failed to take-off – you couldn’t help but feel it was a decade too late given that they wouldn’t have been out of place at Woodstock in 1969.

John Dewhirst

My book A HISTORY OF BCAFC IN OBJECTS (vol 1 in the BANTAMSPAST HISTORY REVISITED series) provides background about City memorabilia. It is available from Waterstones, Wool Exchange or Salts Mill bookshops or follow the link below for BANTAMSPAST HISTORY REVISITED. In future issues of The Parader I will feature objects that tell the history of the club. If you have a City artefact in your possession that you would like me to feature in the programme contact me at johnpdewhirst at gmail dot com or tweets @jpdewhirst

Elsewhere on this blog you can find my programme articles from earlier games this season and last as well as archive images of Valley Parade.

Links to my features on the history of Bradford sport

My most recent article on VINCIT tells the long forgotten story of Shipley FC.

Updates to this site are tweeted: @jpdewhirst

===============================================================

Details here about the bantamspast History Revisited book series: BANTAMSPAST HISTORY REVISITED BOOKS

==============================================================

Discover more about Bradford football history at www.bradfordsporthistory.com

Book Review: Football Fans

‘Football Fans’ by Ian Beesley (Cafe Royal Books, 2019) £6.00 +postage

It’s twenty years since the Bantams were promoted to the Premier League, embarking on a unique if not traumatic experience. Whether it will be repeated is anyone’s guess and whether that is what every Bradford City supporter really wants is another matter entirely.

It seems a long time ago – which indeed it was – and an awful lot has happened in the intervening period. It was also a fleeting experience and the first season in 1999/00 was undoubtedly the most enjoyable of the two. After the first month of the following campaign and victory over Chelsea at Valley Parade, things started to disintegrate quickly and it wasn’t much fun to get trounced nearly every weekend.

The odds against survival in the Premier League were stacked against us and I suspect that most fans expected our membership of the Premier League to end sooner than later. However the mood among supporters was to enjoy the adventure. Maybe with an eye to posterity, Geoffrey Richmond commissioned Ian Beesley to record the experience in a series of black and white photographs that were published shortly after.

Richmond knew that it was an historic achievement getting promotion and was determined to commemorate it. Whilst he had his own motives, no-one could argue with the wisdom of his decision and to his credit BFG sanctioned Ian’s involvement. How it would have been fascinating for modern generations to have inherited a similar project from 1908 (when the club had last gained promotion to the first division of English football).

Ian is a tremendously gifted photographer, a Bradfordian whose work has also provided a record of industrial and social change in his home city. As a supporter of the club he knew as well as anyone else at Valley Parade the emotional significance of having reached the promised land of the Premier League. The measure of his professionalism is that he succeeded in maintaining a detached perspective of events.

His photographs reveal the pride and excitement of City supporters in a way that an outsider would probably have missed. He knew exactly what he was looking for, not just in terms of his craftsmanship as a photographer but also as someone tasked with recording a special phase in the club’s history. My regret is that Ian was not similarly engaged to record the heartache of our subsequent relegation and the ensuing purgatory of the decade that followed.

The most notable difference between then and now is the development of Valley Parade. Whilst the present Kop had been completed, the extended Main Stand was yet to be finished and in fact was not ready until the 2001/02 season (by which time we were back in the second division with debts about to engulf the club). The irony of course is that despite languishing in the lower divisions since 2004, on memorable occasions we’ve had bigger crowds and better match atmospheres in BD8 than was the case in the Premier League. However the title of this booklet – Football Fans – is apt because raw matchday emotions now are no different to what they have ever been.

Indeed things haven’t really changed that much, the antics of Charlie as lead performer in the Kop being a prime example. Aside from different scarves and shirts, the photos could be of big matches nowadays. On the other hand, all-seater and all-ticket games were then a relatively new experience.

Football Fans includes a selection of 19 photographs and it is fascinating to see them once more. I have found them as evocative now as when they were first released and the passage of time gives them added meaning. Each image tells a multitude of stories and collectively they are impactful, thought-provoking. It’s probably the nearest that Bradford City has come to art and not in a poncey, pretentious way either. I’d venture that Ian’s shots belong to the New Age Bantam Realism genre and I hope that it won’t be too long before he repeats his project, irrespective of which division we find ourselves in.

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Only 250 copies of this A5 size booklet have been produced and it’s well worth the purchase. Order your copy through this link

John Dewhirst

Thanks for visiting my blog. The above menu in the header section provides links to my features in the Bradford City AFC matchday programme as well as content of historical interest about the origins and development of football In Bradford.

You can also find other book reviews on this blog – refer links from HERE

Transfer window

The business of player transfers tends to be undertaken in private, behind closed doors although there is plenty of noise and rumour that accompanies speculation about individual players in the media.

In times gone by, players would advertise their availability and similarly, clubs would advertise their needs. The following are classified adverts from the Athletic News.

1929 Situations Wanted.jpg

The above is from 1929, a difficult time to be an unemployed footballer.

The following dates from May, 1925 when Bradford City AFC (as well as Bradford Park Avenue) advertised their rebuilding plans. Of course, only first-class players were required.

Player adverts 1925.jpg

Historically both clubs also relied upon the networks of their managers as well as recommendations made to them. In the first few years of City’s existence there was reliance upon outsiders to build the playing squad given a dearth of local talent (principally because the game was much less established and there was a lack of strong junior clubs in West Yorkshire). However by the inter-war period local junior talent was very much the preferred option as a cheaper alternative and both Bradford clubs actively promoted trials.

Bradford City also benefited from the network of Tom Paton in Scotland whose introductions provided the basis of the 1911 FA Cup winning squad. Sadly his role in the club’s success has tended to be overlooked but undoubtedly, Glorious 1911 was of his making as much as manager, Peter O’Rourke.

John Dewhirst

Thanks for visiting my blog! Scroll down for other features and refer to the menu for links to my BCAFC programme articles, book reviews and content about the history of Bradford football.

For details of the next book in the Bantamspast History Revisited series, follow THIS LINK. The sixth volume in the series will be published in late May and there are plans for further titles in the series to provide a definitive, go-to resource for anyone interested in the history of Bradford football.

Tweets: @jpdewhirst

Pennants

A HISTORY OF BRADFORD CITY AFC IN OBJECTS

Published in the match day programme: Bradford City v Southend United, 19-Jan-19

After enamel badges, pennants have traditionally been the most common souvenir sold by football clubs. The oldest in my own collection dates to 1968 and is a typical V-shaped pennant with tassles, 23cm in length (pictured). Produced by Millar Pennants this was derived from a generic design template and there is similarity of this with an Avenue pennant of the same vintage. An internet search suggests that most other Football League clubs were featured in this way by the same suppliers.

1968 Pennant -.jpg

The City version features the club’s classic claret and amber stripes and the club crest that then featured the Bradford boar’s head.

Football souvenirs were originally advertised in the emergent soccer magazines of the 1950s and 1960s such as Soccer Star, Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly or Goal with adverts aimed at schoolboy readers. Not surprisingly these tended to be limited to first division English and Old Firm clubs. With growth in demand for football merchandise after 1966 there was a trickle down impact to lower division clubs, driven as much by suppliers seeking new markets as clubs and independent retailers seeking profits. However Bradford City was not unique in that its souvenir shop was managed by volunteers from the supporters’ club.

Coffers pennant.JPG

It was not until the second half of the 1970s that there was an increase in merchandising at Valley Parade although souvenirs remained targeted at younger fans. Pennants remain a staple item in the range of goods on sale in the City Shop although surely by now every design variant has been exhausted. Also shown is a pennant from 1983 and in common with many other designs it refers to our famous FA Cup victory in 1911.

John Dewhirst

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

My book A HISTORY OF BCAFC IN OBJECTS (vol 1 in the BANTAMSPAST HISTORY REVISITED series) provides background about City memorabilia. In issues of The Parader I feature objects that tell the history of the club. If you have a City artefact in your possession that you would like me to feature in the programme contact me at johnpdewhirst at gmail dot com or tweets @jpdewhirst

I have written widely about the history of sport in Bradford: Links to my features on the history of Bradford sport

Updates to this site are tweeted: @jpdewhirst

===============================================================

Details here about the new bantamspast History Revisited book series: BANTAMSPAST HISTORY REVISITED BOOKS

==============================================================

Discover more about Bradford football history at www.bradfordsporthistory.com