Morecambe, 1st January 2020


Published in the Bradford City AFC match day programme for the above fixture

This is the seventh season in which we have competed at the same level as Morecambe FC who gained membership of the Football League as recently as 2007. In fact, games with Morecambe have been synonymous with the Bantams playing in the basement division between 2007-13 and again this season. Previously it was Bradford Park Avenue who had competed with Morecambe FC (as members of the Northern Premier League between 1970-74) and in December 1973 the Shrimps had visited Valley Parade to fulfil a fixture with Avenue in that competition.

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Like many other (admittedly older) Bradfordians I spent a number of childhood holidays in Morecambe, a destination once known as ‘Bradford by the Sea’. I was not alone in having relatives who had retired to Morecambe and so cannot deny having a softspot for the town.

Morecambe is also a decent ride from Bradford. Last October I took advantage of the weather and travelled on my motorbike via the likes of Skipton, Helliwell, Clapham and Bentham. Carlisle aside, I can’t think of a better excursion.

Not surprisingly Morecambe has always been an enjoyable away destination, notwithstanding the fact that in the three League fixtures between Morecambe and Bradford City at Christie Park, the Bantams were defeated twice and the best performance was a 0-0 draw on the last visit in September, 2009. In fact, our solitary win at the ground was in November, 2005 when a last minute goal secured a 1-0 victory in an LDV Vans Trophy tie. (In that season a number of non-League clubs were allowed to enter the competition and despite City being two levels higher than Morecambe, the Bantams struggled to get the win.)

Morecambe FC moved to the Globe Arena for the start of the 2010/11 season and the first fixture there with Bradford City was in March, 2011 that resulted in a City victory. Of four League games at the Globe Arena, City have been undefeated with two wins and two draws (the last win being twelve weeks ago). In cup competition, City beat Morecambe at the Globe Arena in a League Cup tie in August, 2014 (featured) but were defeated in a FL Trophy tie in March 2016.

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At Valley Parade, City have won four and lost only once in the previous six games. In aggregate we have won six, drawn four and lost three of the 13 League games between the sides.

Morecambe FC celebrates its centenary in May, 2020 and with luck the anniversary will not be tarnished by relegation back to the Conference. I can’t think of a friendlier club and genuinely hope that the Shrimps can avoid the drop.


You can find other features about the history of Bradford City AFC on this blog as well as links to other content that I have published previously. The menu provides links to archive images featuring historic photographs of Valley Parade as well as old programmes.

Details of my books.

Tweets: @jpdewhirst



Mansfield Town, 29th December 2019


Published in the Bradford City AFC match day programme for the above fixture

We have played Mansfield Town on 52 occasions in the Football League. Of those 22 were in Division Three (North) between 1947-58 but subsequent to the creation of a national league structure in 1958 our sides have been in the same division on only 15 occasions of which 7 seasons in the third tier and 8 at this level in the fourth tier.

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In League competition the Stags have had the upper hand with 20 wins compared to 16 for the Bantams. In the basement division Mansfield Town have won 8 compared to just 4 by Bradford City.

Given that the two clubs have spent the vast majority of the post-war period in the lower divisions, fixtures between the two have been relatively infrequent but in the 1981/82 and 1982/83 seasons it seemed that we couldn’t be kept apart with a total of 8 meetings. During 1981/82 for example we met in Division Four and were drawn together over two legs in the League Cup (and despite losing at Field Mill, City triumphed on aggregate). The following season we met over two legs in the League Cup once again (City winning both) as well as in the FA Cup (a victory for the home side at Valley Parade).

1981 aug

I remember those FA Cup encounters to have been real passionate affairs and after an initial 1-1 draw, we earned a third round meeting with Barnsley and narrowly avoided a giant-killing on a bitterly cold December night thanks to a close-fought 3-2 win. Mansfield wore their traditional yellow shirts and blue shorts whereas at that time the Bantams played in a predominantly white strip with claret and amber trim on the sleeves, collar and cuffs as well as shorts. The Mansfield supporters encouraged their side with shouts of ‘C’mon you Yellows’ and it clearly made an impression on the City faithful.

Proof of the viral spread of football chants was demonstrated less than a fortnight later when City played their next game in a holiday fixture at Deepdale, Preston. On that occasion the Bantams wore the Admiral away strip of amber shirts with claret shorts. And the new chant of the away following that day?  ‘C’mon you Yellows.’ Bizarrely it is a chant that has continued at Bradford City games ever since notwithstanding the fact that the club has never had a yellow strip!

Our League meeting at Mansfield on 15th May, 1982 marked the end of a successful promotion season and City finished runners-up to Sheffield United. Our 2-0 victory that day ensured we finished above Wigan Athletic and AFC Bournemouth who claimed the other promotion spots. Of course we returned to the basement division in 2007/08 and that was the last season that the two sides have met. Despite Mansfield Town failing to avoid relegation to the Conference in 2008 (where they would spend five seasons) they still managed to take 4 points from the Bantams.


You can find other features about the history of Bradford City AFC on this blog as well as links to other content that I have published previously. The menu provides links to archive images featuring historic photographs of Valley Parade as well as old programmes.

Details of my books.

Tweets: @jpdewhirst

John Dewhirst

Thanks to Stewart Roberts for allowing me to feature his copy of the Mansfield v City programme from April, 1948 – the first meeting of the sides at Field Mill.

Salford City: 21st December, 2019


Published in the Bradford City AFC match day programme for the above fixture

We welcome today another club with whom we play our first ever fixture. By virtue that this column features historic matchday programmes involving games between Bradford City and the opposition of the day, it’s been something of a challenge to find a soccer connection with our visitors. To my knowledge Valley Parade has never previously hosted a club from Salford to play a game of association football although the ground can boast other historic sporting connections with Salford. Nevertheless it is the first time that a club from the city has visited Valley Parade since Good Friday in April, 1897 when Salford FC defeated Manningham FC in a Northern Union rugby friendly. On that occasion poor weather restricted the crowd to only 3,000 and in fact the return game at Salford the following day had to be abandoned due to the elements.

Formed in 1873, Salford FC had established itself as one of the leading rugby clubs in Lancashire by the following decade which mirrored the rise to prominence in Yorkshire of Bradford FC. Those clubs had their first meeting at Park Avenue in 1886 and the fixture came to be regarded as the de facto Roses rivalry. Salford FC seceded to the Northern Union in 1896 – of which Manningham FC had been inaugural champions in 1895/96 – and the only occasion that Salford FC played at Valley Parade was the aforementioned game.

The failure of the Paraders to rebuild their squad left the club on a downward spiral that ultimately culminated in Manningham’s conversion to association football in 1903. By 1901 for example the club had been excluded from the senior level of the Northern Union. In fact the Manningham team was considerably weakened following the death of its star full-back, George Lorimer in February, 1897. Such was the strength of the Salford side at the beginning of the century that there was little prospect of Salford FC converting to soccer at that time. Likewise, with the counter appeal of Manchester United there is little wonder why Salford has not had a Football League side long before now.

1887-08-18 advert for Airedale Ath fest

In 1887 however Valley Parade welcomed an altogether different Salford team. The ground had been opened the previous year with the stated intent of hosting other sporting activities and in August, 1887 Valley Parade hosted the Airedale Harriers’ annual athletics festival (previously staged at Lady Royd).

VP Graphic Aug 1887

The event attracted contestants from across the north and at stake was an impressive array of prizes, the most prestigious of which was an attractive trophy for the winners of the three mile inter-club steeplechase. Manufactured by Fattorini’s of Bradford, this had a reported value of £40 which was in excess of the average annual wage for a workman.


There were three teams of four runners apiece competing for the prize which was won by Salford Harriers. It was said that they had ‘a ridiculously easy journey’ finishing two laps ahead of the fastest runner from the Bradford Trinity club whilst none of the Airedale team finished. The achievement of Salford Harriers was celebrated in the Manchester publication Black & White (pictured).

1887-08-26 Salford Harriers

You can read more about the athletic festivals of Victorian Bradford on VINCIT, the online journal of Bradford Sport History from this link.

You can find other features about the history of Bradford City AFC on this blog as well as links to other content that I have published previously. The menu provides links to archive images featuring historic photographs of Valley Parade as well as old programmes.

Details of my books.

Tweets: @jpdewhirst

John Dewhirst

Photograph taken by myself at the game with Salford City that finished 1-1 (copyright BCAFC). [Link to photos of Valley Parade taken the same day]


Newport County, 7th December 2019


Published in the Bradford City AFC match day programme for the above fixture

Of all the fixtures this season I confess that the most eagerly anticipated on my part were those with Newport County. Today will be memorable for the opportunity to welcome back the Newport manager, Michael Flyn to Valley Parade but it is also about the renewal of an old rivalry.

There have been 40 games between our sides. City boast 19 wins and Newport, 15 with just 6 games having been drawn. Only once has there been a goalless draw. Most of the scorelines have actually been fairly close, the one exception being our 6-2 victory at Valley Parade in January, 1960.


Not since our tragic but triumphant Championship season of 1984/85 have we competed in the same division. Our last game was at Somerton Park on 16th April, 1985 which had been rearranged after postponement in February. Our 1-0 victory put the Bantams on track for promotion to the second division but much has changed since that last meeting. Less than four weeks later there was the fire disaster and the Valley Parade of today will be totally unrecognisable to the visitors from Newport.

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Somerton Park was equally decrepit and it surely ranked alongside The Shay, Halifax and the Victoria Ground, Hartlepool as among the worst in the League. For so long Newport County had been perennial strugglers on the verge of financial oblivion to which they eventually succumbed in 1989. In May, 1976 I recall the half-time fund raising at Valley Parade to raise money for County, a gesture that incurred the wrath of former Avenue supporters who claimed that the City faithful had never extended such goodwill to their club.

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For so long City and Newport were rivals at the foot of the basement division and of the twenty seasons that we have been in the same division, all but six have been in the fourth tier. Our first meetings however were in Division Three in 1958/59 and we competed at that level for three seasons until City’s relegation in 1961. In 1979/80 we found ourselves in the unusual situation as promotion rivals and despite achieving a double against the Welshmen, County gained promotion at our expense on the last day of that season after City lost at Peterborough.

We eventually caught up with Newport in 1982/83 until we parted company in 1985. It tends to be forgotten that until 1987 at least, Newport County was the leading professional side in Wales.

Nowadays Newport County play at Rodney Park, a ground more famous as the home of Newport rugby and a venue at which Manningham FC – forerunners of Bradford City AFC – last played in December, 1893. During the course of my research into the origins of football in Bradford I was given access to the Newport sports archive that was uncovered at Rodney Parade. Like Bradford, Newport was something of an industrial frontier town in the nineteenth century and has a proud sporting heritage despite a lack of soccer glories. Welcome back to Bradford, Newport County!

You can find other features about the history of Bradford City AFC on this blog as well as links to other content that I have published previously. The menu provides links to archive images featuring historic photographs of Valley Parade as well as old programmes.

Details of my books.

Tweets: @jpdewhirst

Bradford City AFC programmes, 1945-66

During the 2019/20 season my column in THE PARADER, the BCAFC matchday programme features issues of old and those relating to historic fixtures with the opposition of the day. Additionally I am uploading features to this blog that record changes in the design of the publication in earlier decades.
Featured below are Bradford City AFC programme covers from the period 1945-66. My book A HISTORY OF BCAFC IN OBJECTS (BANTAMSPAST, 2014) includes other examples not to mention a full range of historic City memorabilia and relics…

You will find other Bradford City archive images by following the links in the drop down menu above. Also published on this blog are my features in the BCAFC programme from previous seasons, book reviews and sundry content about the history of Bradford sport.

On this blog you can also find features about the origins of the club identity, crests and nickname.

The drop down menu provides links to other content 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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The claret & amber yoke shirt

The unique colours of Bradford City and Motherwell

The origins of Bradford City’s claret and amber colours date to 1884 when they were adopted by Manningham FC to replace their existing black shirts. As narrated previously on this blog [1] and on VINCIT [2], the choice of colours is most likely explained by local military heritage and patriotism.

Manningham FC opted to wear hooped shirts with the width of the claret hoop said to have been twice that of the amber. In 1903 the new Bradford City club retained claret and amber but opted for striped shirts by virtue of the fact that hoops were more commonly associated with rugby.

In 1908, at a time when the Bradford City side was struggling at the bottom the first division, the club adopted its bantam nickname [3]. By that stage the team was wearing an all-claret shirt with amber trip.

In 1909 the club adopted a new shirt design, nowadays referred to as its ‘yoke design’ which coincidentally had a resemblance to the plumage of a bantam as the graphic from the same year shown below demonstrates.

The yoke shirt was worn in the 1911 FA Cup final and apart from a solitary season was retained until 1928 when it was replaced by stripes. (Nevertheless, such was the affection for the shirt design that had been associated with the club’s greatest achievement that it was revived between 1948 and 1953.) [4]


Torrance shirt 2

Shirt worn by Robert Torrance, BCAFC 1908-18 (NB Bob Torrance was Killed in Action during World War One)

Until 1912, Bradford City was the only senior club in Great Britain to wear claret and amber but in that year both Dumfries FC (a forerunner of Queen of the South) and Montrose FC adopted a yoke shirt in exactly the same colours and design. The following year, in 1913 Motherwell FC adopted the very same yoke shirt as introduced by Bradford City. Motherwell FC had originally played in blue and the reason for a change in colours to assumed to have arisen from the fact that there were frequent colour clashes with other sides and that the club sought a distinctive look. [6]

Motherwell’s first game in claret and amber was for a Scottish League fixture with Celtic (1-1, at Fir Park) on August 23, 1913. The Motherwell Times of 29th August reported that ‘Punctual to time the teams took the field, Motherwell wearing their new colours. The general opinion regarding the new colours is that while they may be distinctive they are by no means pretty.’

Motherwell shirt

The connection with Bradford extended to more than just the same colours because the new Motherwell shirts were manufactured by the Bradford firm, Sports & Pastimes Ltd Athletic and School Clothing Manufacturers, owned by the Fattorini family. Whilst the core Fattorini business was that of jewellery, the diversification into producing sports medals, trophies and badges had proved particularly lucrative. Tony Fattorini for example had derived leverage from his own sporting interests and Fattorinis were known as the designers of the FA Cup as well as Northern Union trophies. It was an incredible coincidence that the first winners of the new FA Cup trophy in 1911 was none other than Bradford City with whom Tony Fattorini was involved. The launch of the Sports & Pastimes business to sell sporting apparel and equipment was thus a logical extension of existing activity.

Whilst Sports & Pastimes advertised its range of sports equipment extensively throughout Great Britain, there is a good chance that the Motherwell directors decided upon the supplier following a recommendation. It is quite possible that they were impressed by the shirts worn by Dumfries and Montrose although it is unknown whether Sports & Pastimes supplied these.

The understanding among Motherwell supporters is that their club secured the shirts from Bradford City and this gives credence to the suggestion that they did not source them directly from Sports & Pastimes – in other words confirming that an intermediary was involved.
My belief is that an introduction was provided by someone whose contribution to the golden era of Bradford City should not be under-estimated. That individual was Thomas Paton, a man who was said to have been publicity shy – a factor that might explain (although does not excuse) why he has been overlooked in earlier histories about Bradford City AFC. [7]

Of course the Motherwell directors could well have written to Bradford City to request detail of the club’s kit supplier. However it is entirely consistent with Paton’s reputation that he had an involvement in Motherwell’s new colours and endorsing the Sports & Pastimes business.

Paton was probably one of the best networked individuals in Scottish football and with Lanarkshire having been a hotbed of football enthusiasm, he would have had his ear close to developments at clubs such as Motherwell. By maintaining links with Scottish sides at both junior and senior level, Paton had been consistently successful at introducing talented players into the Bradford City side and arranging player transfers. Furthermore, as a shareholder at Park Avenue it seems possible that his influence had extended to securing the appointment of Tom Maley as manager of the Bradford club in February, 1911.

Motherwell shirt rear
The above shirt is currently on display in the Summerlee Museum in Coatbridge – the very same as that of Bob Torrance. It was in the possession of Craig Brown who played for Motherwell between 1919-24 and now owned by his grandson, Keith Brown. A centre-half, Brown was transferred from… Bradford City who he had joined as a 21 year old in 1914. He had previously spent the 1916/17 season on loan at Motherwell. Hailing from Ayrshire he probably welcomed the opportunity to return closer to his roots and despite changing clubs he would continue to wear the same style jersey! (NB It is unknown whether he actually wore this shirt in a game.)


Motherwell retained the yoke shirt until 1924 when the club opted for claret and amber stripes. Whether the striped shirts were sourced in Bradford is unknown but surely Bradford City can be credited with having provided the inspiration. However in 1928 Motherwell introduced a new shirt design which has been the one more commonly associated with the club, that is an amber shirt with a broad claret band.

In 1983 it was the turn of Motherwell to give Bradford City a new home shirt design. First worn in Scotland in 1982/83, the same Patrick kit was adopted by the Bantams the following season.

The Motherwell side has worn some decent shirts in the last few decades. Those responsible for the design of a future Bradford City strip could do worse than deriving some inspiration from north of the border!

Thanks for visiting my blog. The drop down menu above provides links to features on the history of Bradford sport, content published in the BCAFC programme and book reviews. Tweets: @jpdewhirst

My thanks to William Kay for his assistance with information about Motherwell FC and its history.

The following provides further detail about Bradford City’s nickname, colours and kit as well as Thomas Paton…

[1] Military heritage and the adoption of claret and amber by Bradford City AFC

[2] Bradford’s military heritage and the sporting links

[3] The origins of the Bantams nickname

[4] Traditional BCAFC claret and amber shirt designs

[5] More about Bradford City crests and nicknames

[6] Montrose FC wore a claret and amber yoke shirt between 1912-15 and Dumfries FC, 1912-19. The style was also popular at the time with amateur football teams in the Bradford district which may suggest a Sports & Pastimes connection. Similarly a surviving photograph confirms that the Bramley (Northern Rugby Union) team wore a yoke shirt in 1916.

[7] Brief biography of Tom Paton by Ian Hemmens, taken from LIFE AT THE TOP (pub Bantamspast 2016):

Thomas Paton was born in Midlothian in 1868 and was initially involved as fixture secretary for St. Bernards FC of Edinburgh, Scottish Cup Winners in 1894 and at that time credible rivals to Hearts and Hibernian. After qualifying as an accountant he came south to Bradford in 1901, appointed as secretary of Yorkshire Woolcombers Association Ltd but in 1904, after the company’s liquidation in the High Court, he established an accountancy practice, Messrs Paton, Boyce & Welch at Piccadilly, Bradford.

Whilst in Bradford he became involved with Bradford City AFC, probably introduced through his business contacts in the city. Working alongside secretary-manager Peter O’Rourke, he used his network north of the border to entice players to Valley Parade. The likes of Jimmy and Peter Logan, Jimmy MacDonald and Harry Graham all arrived from St Bernards FC. Additionally, he captured future legends of the club including Frank O’Rourke, Jimmy Speirs, Robert Torrance, Dave Taylor, Jock Ewart and Tommy Cairns from Scotland as well as the England internationals Evelyn Lintott and Dickie Bond. All of these men contributed to the club’s so-called golden age before World War One that included FA Cup victory in 1911.

He joined the board of directors just after the incorporation of the club in 1908 before resigning in 1912. In 1928 he was instrumental in helping achieve a restructure of the Bradford City board which helped avert financial disaster. In 1907 he had favoured the merger of Bradford City at Park Avenue and had invested as a shareholder in Bradford Park Avenue in 1909.

In 1925 Paton retired to Girvan, Scotland although kept his house in the Chellow Dene district of Bradford. Nevertheless, he remained involved with football and helped facilitate the transfer of Scottish International Alex James from Preston North End to Arsenal in 1929. This particular arrangement came about from his friendship with Jock Ewart (who had moved to Preston in 1928) and that with Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman who knew Paton from his time in West Yorkshire as manager of Leeds City and then Huddersfield Town. Paton died in 1946, aged 78.

[8] A bantam…