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Good luck, City - from an army of fans
As Bradford City’s cup heroes got their first feel of the Wembley turf today ahead of tomorrow’s historic final, leaders and fans across the city are cheering them on to secure a famous victory in the club’s biggest game for more than a century.
With only a day to go until Phil Parkinson’s men face Premier League Swansea in the hotly-anticipated Capital One Cup, MPs from all parties, council leaders and life-long supporters have sent their well-wishes to the League Two side and spoke of their pride at the Bantams’ underdog’s exploits during an unforgettable cup campaign.
City’s players travelled from Bradford to their hotel in Hertfordshire yesterday and today the players were at Wembley to get their first sight of the pitch. Bradford East Liberal Democrat MP David Ward will be travelling down to Wembley with his wife Jackie and youngest son on one of a fleet of supporters’ coaches leaving Valley Parade at 8.30am tomorrow.
Mr Ward, a season-ticket holder, who used to work at the club, said: “Everybody’s going to have a day out and enjoy themselves.
“The manager has to get the players in the right frame of mind, but it feels like we have already won to get this far.
“It would be the cherry on the cake to win, but we are already proud of what’s been achieved by the club.
“This is a wonderful occasion and everyone’s going to have a fantastic time.”
Bradford West Respect MP George Galloway hailed the final as ‘the best thing to happen in Bradford’.
“I will be there with my whole family cheering on what I hope will be a famous victory for Bradford City,” he said.
“I wish the team the very best and everyone who’s coming from Bradford a great day out in London.”
Bradford South Labour MP Gerry Sutcliffe, who will also be watching the match at Wembley, said there would be a ‘fantastic party atmosphere’ whatever the outcome.
“There are going to be so many people from Bradford and it is going to be a great occasion.
“The team have done fantastically well and I wish them all the best,” he added.
Shipley Conservative MP Philip Davies spoke of the occasion as being a big day for the ‘loyal fans who turn out every week to cheer on the Bantams’. He said: “What they’ve already achieved is absolutely sensational. It’s brought more pride into the district than anything I can remember.
“Whatever happens tomorrow, everybody will be immensely proud of what they’ve achieved.
“It would be sensational if they could win. I’m sure everybody will be rooting for them.”
Keighley Conservative MP Kris Hopkins added: “It promises to be a really exciting day for the many thousands of loyal supporters. I wish them good luck and I’m sure the team will do us proud.”
Season-ticket holder Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor Dale Smith, said he will be pausing briefly on his way to Wembley to lay a small tribute of claret and amber flowers beneath the Bobby Moore statue – commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Word Cup winning captain’s death, which coincides with the final tomorrow.
“I'm so excited about the match and can't wait to see the boys play,” he added.
“It's been such a fantastic achievement so far. We wish them good luck and lets hope they can bring the cup home for Bradford.”
Bradford Council leader, Councillor David Green, said: “The Bradford City flag is flying on City Hall and I want to wish the club the best of luck and hope the fans going to Wembley, as well as those watching at home in Bradford and across the world – have a great time!”
Supporter Mike Harrison, who will be selling copies of his City Gent fanzine on Wembley Way ahead of the game, said the club’s phenomenal cup run was ‘fantastic’ for young fans.
“Especially for those who are around ten to 12, who’ve been dragged along with their mum and dad and not seen anything exciting – it will be like all their Christmases, New Years and birthdays have come at once!
“The team has done us proud and whatever happens it’s been a fantastic achievement.
“I’m hoping to see a sea of claret and amber whoosh past me on Wembley Way!”
Alan Carling, chairman of Bradford City Supporters’ Board, added the final was the club’s ‘biggest adventure in 100 years’.
“The lads can make it four out of four. Bring it on!”
Omar Khan, owner of Bradford Bulls, and Bantams’ first Asian ambassador, said Bradford City had put the city on the ‘sporting map’.
“They have captured the imagination of the whole nation with their achievement in becoming the first side from the fourth tier of English football to reach a final at Wembley.
“I will be there supporting them and willing them to bring the cup back to Bradford!”
The Bishop of Bradford, the Reverend Nick Baines, who will miss the final because he will be driving to Cambridge, said nothing could dampen spirits in Bradford this weekend.
“If Liverpool could bang in five against Swansea last week, anything is possible,” he added.
“Isn’t it great when the underdog threatens the top dog? No shadow of fear – just the sheer madness of enjoying what most people thought was one step beyond possibility.”