Recent posts

Scroll down on this page and you will find articles uploaded to this blog in chronological order (most recent at the top). The majority are articles also published in the BCAFC programme and you will find links to these from the menu above.

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The following are other features on this blog published during in the last six months:

History in the making this season?

Photos of Valley Parade in the 1970s

Campaigning against Edin Rahic

Photos of Valley Parade redevelopment, 1986

Die Deutsche Frage, visit to Germany Nov-18

Book Review – One Year, Two Seasons by Richard Wardell

Book Review – The Beautiful Badge by Martin Routledge

Book Review – Kick Off by David Pendleton

Book Review – How football began by Tony Collins

Refer to the menu above to navigate.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

 

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

Tweets: @jpdewhirst

Valley Parade photos: 1970s

Welcome to my blog where you will find features about the history of football in Bradford – in particular about Bradford City AFC – a number of which have been published in the BCAFC matchday programme.

The drop down menu above provides links to articles as well as sundry book reviews. I am also uploading an irregular series of online albums recording various themes, typically archive photographs or Bradford City and Bradford Park Avenue memorabilia from my own collection.

These photographs feature Valley Parade in the early 1970s when I first attended games. Of note is the photo from 1970 with the chimney of the old Valley Road power station. The basic design of the old Main Stand can also be seen which was dilapidated even by then, dating back to 1907.

John Dewhirst

Another batch of images will be uploaded later this month. Refer previous album by following ‘Archive Images‘ as above.

Scroll down and you will find articles uploaded to this blog in chronological order (most recent at the top). The majority are articles also published in the BCAFC programme and you will find links to these from the menu above.

The following are other features on this blog published during 2018:

Campaigning against Edin Rahic

Photos of Valley Parade redevelopment, 1986

Die Deutsche Frage, visit to Germany Nov-18

Book Review – One Year, Two Seasons by Richard Wardell

Book Review – The Beautiful Badge by Martin Routledge

Book Review – Kick Off by David Pendleton

Book Review – How football began by Tony Collins

The saga of Bradford’s cross-city rail links

Refer to the menu above to navigate.

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

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Tweets: @jpdewhirst

 

The Glorious Revolution

In the history of Bradford City AFC there has never been anything like the revolt against Edin Rahic but the way in which the revolution took place has also been quite distinct from what might have happened in an earlier age. My personal observations thereon…

When the announcement came yesterday about Edin Rahic’s departure it felt like a massive relief. Only six months earlier it seemed that Bradford City might be heading in the same direction as Blackpool or Coventry, its affairs dominated by bitterness towards the club’s owners and division among supporters. Yet now the bogey man has gone.

Nevertheless, whilst we continue to celebrate his exit we also need to be realistic about the immediate outlook. Notwithstanding that he has gone, the affairs of the club will not magically be transformed overnight and it is important to manage expectations. The hard work of rebuilding the club now begins, not just on the field but also in many other areas behind the scenes and it is going to be a long slog. During the course of the next few months we will continue to have reversals and inevitably frustrations will arise.

The biggest danger is that new scapegoats emerge and blame becomes directed at members of the club’s leadership team. What is needed now is unity and for everyone to get behind the efforts of David Hopkin, Julian Rhodes and Stefan Rupp in driving a turnaround. We are vulnerable to the negativity of the cynics and conspiracy theorists in our ranks, those who have enjoyed the opportunity to be negative during the last twelve months and who will struggle to quit the snide and contrarian comments.

The experience of the last year has demonstrated both the strength and weakness of social media in the sort of situation that has existed at Valley Parade. As supporters we have much to thank THE WIDTH OF A POST for. Its role in helping to articulate the grievances of supporters has been pivotal and it has also set the tone for how those concerns should be expressed. Not surprisingly it has been hugely influential in presenting compelling arguments about the need for change at Bradford City and encouraging feedback and contribution on its site from readers. For anyone wanting to follow events at Valley Parade from afar, the WOAP pages have provided a succinct and real time summary of views. It has thus been an invaluable supporter resource.

If WOAP has represented a strength of social media, Twitter and certain supporter forums have also revealed the dark side. Whilst Twitter and the forums have provided an important means to exchange information and opinion, they have also facilitated the expression of what can only be described as emotive and inchoate noise as well as abuse. Twitter has been a prime example of this with a number of contributors thriving in being deliberately contrarian to get attention, focused more on witty and distracting soundbites than constructive comments. (For the record, IMHO the Bantams Talk forum is leagues apart from the apt named bovine slurry forum and is generally sensible in its content. Judge The Cow’s Arse forum for yourself – it’s pretty obvious why they are not taken seriously with occasional nuggets of wisdom obscured by the slurry of expletives.)

In a similar situation in the days before the internet we might have been forced to rely upon protests at games to make the point. Based on what I recall in the 1980s and 1990s, the directors would then have resorted to challenge the legitimacy or validity of protests and the focus would have shifted away from the issues at hand to the personalities of the opposition and the circumstances of the protests. In other words, one of the reasons why supporter protests have tended to be ineffective is that they create distraction from the core grievances and potentially undermine arguments for change.

More often than not, protests fail to communicate exactly what people are upset about. Another massive risk is that they give rise to extreme emotions which again undermines the credibility of the arguments. Last but not least, many people who have grievances have little interest in joining a picket line or protest march or funding a flypast and this can result in protests being entirely unrepresentative.

Edin Rahic was / is a manipulative individual and there is little doubt that had there been a programme of supporter protests he would have claimed that these were the cause of the club’s problems rather than himself. The planned flypast would have been entirely counter-productive to the very objective it sought to achieve and would have more likely emboldened him.

Given that just over twelve months ago Rahic had himself been feted by travelling supporters in Germany, he was able to dismiss supporter disenchantment as fickle emotion. Besides he also deflected legitimate complaints as xenophobic reactions. A campaign of protests was therefore never going to be effective to depose him and despite a certain individual demanding that we ‘show some bloody fight’ it was never quite explained how to do so. Far easier for him to dismiss others as ‘apologists’ than explain how a successful protest could have ever taken place.

For these reasons, this is why the WOAP coverage and the strategy of getting media attention about the circumstances at Valley Parade was going to be more effective at convincing the principal decision-maker of the need for change. Ultimately WOAP proved influential because it helped give expression to a groundswell of genuine and heartfelt comments and this was always going to be more persuasive than chants or tweets of ‘Edin Out’. It was notable that Stefan Rupp followed WOAP and that in the final event he would listen to reason. However, ‘cash tells its own story’ – the decline in form and the deteriorating finances at the club spoke volumes and it was only a matter of time before change had to happen.

Just as the supporter protests proved unnecessary, so too the Supporters’ Trust has proved completely ineffectual which raises fundamental questions about its relevance and reason to exist. One of the priorities for the new regime will be to redefine its communications and PR strategy, not least how it engages with supporters. This in itself demonstrates how things have changed at Valley Parade and the fragmented nature of the support base makes it questionable whether a central supporters’ body is needed. The experience of the last few months has shown quite the opposite, that the voice of supporters has been given expression in an altogether different way that has completely bypassed the BCST. Like the resort to protests, the BCST belongs to an earlier era.

The true test of this revolution will be the next six months and I genuinely believe that the club will eventually emerge stronger. Long live Bantam Progressivism!

John Dewhirst

Recent posts

Scroll down on this page and you will find articles uploaded to this blog in chronological order (most recent at the top). The majority are articles also published in the BCAFC programme and you will find links to these from the menu above.

20181215_1356157789815872076883622.jpg

The following are other features on this blog published during 2018:

Photos of Valley Parade in the 1970s

Campaigning against Edin Rahic

Photos of Valley Parade redevelopment, 1986

Die Deutsche Frage, visit to Germany Nov-18

Book Review – One Year, Two Seasons by Richard Wardell

Book Review – The Beautiful Badge by Martin Routledge

Book Review – Kick Off by David Pendleton

Book Review – How football began by Tony Collins

The saga of Bradford’s cross-city rail links

Refer to the menu above to navigate.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Tweets: @jpdewhirst

Valley Parade photos: rebuilding work 1986

Welcome to my blog where you will find features about the history of football in Bradford – in particular about Bradford City AFC – a number of which have been published in the BCAFC matchday programme.

The drop down menu above provides links to articles as well as sundry book reviews. I am also uploading an irregular series of online albums recording various themes, typically archive photographs (the majority of which taken by myself) or Bradford City and Bradford Park Avenue memorabilia from my own collection.

These photographs feature the rebuilding of Valley Parade after the fire tragedy in 1985. The first image is an aerial photo of the ground in the aftermath of the fire and then the service of remembrance on 21 July, 1985 before rebuilding took place.

 

The demolition of the ground proceeded apace during 1986 after new funding was confirmed. Two particular photos are of note. The first which shows the remains of the ferro-concrete foundations of the original Midland Road stand, 1908-1950 and evidence of the old Bradford rivalry in the graffiti on the back of the then Midland Road shed.

The other photo to highlight focuses on the site off South Parade where the old Main Stand had stood. This shows the slope afforded by the topography that provided an excellent vantage for spectators. It was this that made the ground a cost-effective, economical option for the former Manningham FC that played rugby at Valley Parade between 1886-1903 (full details of the origins and history of the ground is narrated in my book, ROOM AT THE TOP). The slope provided a ready made terrace (and Bowling FC similarly exploited a railway embankment to create a crude terrace at its Usher Street ground in the nineteenth century).

 

The new Valley Parade was reopened in December, 1986 with a fixture between Bradford City and an England XI. The aerial photo from that time confirms that the only surviving structure at the ground is the dressing rooms/office complex in the south west corner that dates from 1960.

 

 

Further albums will be uploaded in due course and the drop down menu *Archive Images* will provide links. News of updates will be tweeted: @jpdewhirst

John Dewhirst

In the last thirty years I have been involved in the writing and production of various books about Bradford City. At the last count I had authored four, collaborated on three and helped produce a further four. Latterly I have published the BANTAMSPAST HISTORY REVISITED series of books and you can find details about these from the following link:  BANTAMSPAST HISTORY REVISITED BOOKS  I am currently writing another book about the City / Park Avenue rivalry which will be the sixth volume in the series.

I have written widely about the history of sport in Bradford – Links here to my online articles – and I am involved with the VINCIT online journal that covers the history of Bradford sport with articles written by a number of enthusiasts:  www.bradfordsporthistory.com

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

 

 

 

The Beautiful Badge

A HISTORY OF BRADFORD CITY AFC IN OBJECTS

Published in the match day programme: Bradford City v Oxford United, 24-Nov-18

Your chance to win a copy of The Beautiful Badge: The Stories Behind the Football Club Badge by Martyn Routledge and Elspeth Wills (Pitch Publishing, 2018)

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If anyone is looking for a Christmas gift to satisfy a hard to please football supporter, look no further than this book that combines outstanding design with an authoritative narrative. Never before has there been a book to explain the origins of British football club badges.
As a child I had the 1971/72 Batholomews Football map of Great Britain on my bedroom wall that was illustrated with club crests as well as team strips – badges of Bradford City and Bradford Park Avenue as shown below. Nothing better gave me a basic knowledge of British geography and civic crests. Nowadays club crests are visible on an almost daily basis, thanks to a large degree to digital design and the internet but they were not always so commonplace. In the main they tended to be confined to boys’ comics and it was otherwise rare to see a compilation of crests.

The Beautiful Badge is a true indulgence that allows comparison of badges not only from different clubs but from different eras. What is so enjoyable about the book is that it has extensive coverage of early club badges dating back to the pre-World War One era and there is a treasure trove of artefacts and illustrations. Bradford City supporters will be satisfied that the club is well-represented and indeed there is a good share of graphics relating to the Bantams / Paraders.

The history of changes to the Bradford City crest is pretty much consistent with what has happened at other clubs, alternating variously between a civic crest themed badge, monograms, an identity based around a creature (ie bantam) and the adoption of a character (ie City Gent). All of these developments are tracked in The Beautiful Badge.

The book is based on the research undertaken by Routledge for an undergraduate dissertation and around twenty years ago I provided him with some background about the various crests that have been adopted by Bradford City AFC. I have also assisted him with the production of this book, providing detail about Bradford City as well as my involvement with the rebadging of Scunthorpe United in 1981. Indeed I was the man responsible for the design of that club’s ‘Unity fist’ badge having entered a competition advertised in the Scunthorpe v City programme in October that year.

If I had to recommend a football book as a special Christmas gift, this would be it. Readers have a unique chance to win a copy of The Beautiful Badge by answering the following question: In which year was the current Bradford City crest introduced?

Send your answer to Badge Competition, c/o Bantamspast PO Box 307, SHIPLEY BD18 9BT

The winning entry will be selected at random on 30th November and the winner contacted.

*** THE ANSWER TO THE COMPETITION WAS 1991 & THE WINNER HAS BEEN NOTIFIED***

John Dewhirst

John’s book A HISTORY OF BCAFC IN OBJECTS (vol 1 in the BANTAMSPAST HISTORY REVISITED series) provides background about City memorabilia. 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 in the programme contact him at johnpdewhirst at gmail dot com or tweets @jpdewhirst
John has written widely about the history of sport in Bradford: Links to his features on the history of Bradford sport

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

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

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

Bradford Sport History

Interested in Bradford sport history? Have a look at VINCIT  an online journal dedicated to writings about the origins and development of sport in Bradford, embracing all codes and clubs. I have written a number of features that have been published, including the most recent which tells the long forgotten story of Shipley FC.

My interest in Shipley FC arose from wanting to discover more about a club that would have been my local side, playing opposite the Ring Of Bells public house. It reveals an alternate perspective to the history of rugby in the Bradford district and demonstrates that the story of how spectator sport developed in Bradford cannot be told with an exclusive focus on Bradford FC and Manningham FC alone.

Football supporters in Bradford have tended to ignore what happened before the formation of Bradford City AFC in 1903 despite the fact that the club had its origins as a rugby organisation. (NB Prior to World War One the term ‘football’ was synonymous with both rugby and soccer but in West Yorkshire it tended to mean rugby.)

Rugby League followers have similarly tended to overlook what happened prior to the launch of the Northern Union in 1895. Going further back you find common roots between rugby and cricket in Bradford.

The history of the origins of sport in Bradford and these common links has been ignored. Likewise the subtleties of what happened have been missed altogether and it is a subject area that has fallen foul of simplistic narratives. Surprisingly perhaps it has been overlooked that Bradford sport in the nineteenth century was heavily influenced by the military and motives of charitable giving. Sport was also recognised by our Victorian forebears as an important form of expression for civic pride and identity (or what was then described as local patriotism), another theme that has been forgotten despite its relevance for today.

If you want to discover more you will find plenty online. There are links to what I have written about the origins of Bradford sport here. The drop down menu on the VINCIT site will also take you to features about different sports in the district with contributions from a number of other writers and enthusiasts. You can read more in my books about the early history of Bradford sport and in particular, football (embracing both rugby and soccer) before 1908.

John Dewhirst