One hundred years ago to the day, Bradford City won the F.A. Cup-AND BROUGHT IT HOME, since the new trophy was made in Bradford by Thomas Fattorini and Sons, who are still in business today www.fattorini.co.uk
On April 26th 1911 at Old Trafford in Manchester, Jimmy Speirs age 25 scored the only goal in the replay against Newcastle United, after a 0-0 draw at the Crystal Palace in London four days earlier. Six years later Spiers along with eight team mates, were killed during the Great War in the trenches of France and Belgium. www.bradfordcityfc.co.uk. Across town Second Lieutenant Donald Simpson Bell who played for Bradford Park Avenue also lost his life in the same war.
It was the only major trophy ever won by The Bantams, who were called the Paraders at the time, since they were founded only in 1903 and played their first ever home game at Valley Parade in front of 11,000 fans in the Second Division with a loss to Gainsborough Trinity. They wear claret and amber stripes, after the local team Manningham FC that they took over in 1903 and which were the colours of the West Yorkshire Regiment, the nearby army base, where they changed before matches in the early days. The only other British club with similar colours are Motherwell in Scotland.
I took the 660 bus from Bradford Interchange to the Bradford Industrial Museum,at Moorside Mill, a converted woollen mill which has much to offer. As with all museums in England, it is open free to the public. Lots of industrial history,working machinery, transport such as old cars, buses, trains, trams and trolley buses, and you can even take a ride in a wagon drawn by a cart horse. www.bradfordmuseums.org
For a few months they have one whole room devoted to the history of The Bantams and in particular, that momentus occasion in 1911. In fact on 26th April this week there was a banquet for players and supporters and the real F.A. Cup was on display for people to have their photo taken with. It was against the backdrop of a life size cut out display of the team photo of the time.
There is also a fascinating black and white film show from that year, showing their first home match against Gainsborough in 1903 and the final from 1911. Its interesting to see the team uniforms and old boots, plus the clothes worn by the fans, almost all with top hats, bowlers or cloth caps, against a background of smoke from pipes, cigars, cigarelos and cigarettes.
In 1985 the club suffered a huge fire at the end of the season, the day they were to be awarded the trophy for getting promotion. Fifty six died in a matter of minutes and over 250 were badly burned. Read www.ronsblog.com 10/25/2006 DEATH IN THE AFTERNOON for all the background and history. I have twice been to memorial services outside Bradford City Hall on the anniversary of that tragedy.
Paul Jewell finally won promotion to the Premier League in 1998 but only for a couple of seasons. Now they are in the fourth tier, but attendances are three times that of their rivalsdue to award winning pricing and marketing. £138.00 for a season ticket, that works out at only £6 a match, and of course with an average of over 12,000 fans they earn much more from selling programmes, drinks, pies and souvenirs.
You have seen their claret and amber scarves worn by more than Bantam fans, since Harry Potter wears the same coloured scarf of his schoolhouse at Hogwarts School and they are a hot seller world wide.