No fairytale ending, but an inspirational display

Fans drink in the reality that the Wembley dream has ended

Fans drink in the reality that the Wembley dream has ended

First published in News
Last updated
Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , T&A Reporter

Oh how cruelly the fairytale ended.

But losing 5-0 to Premier League Swansea in the Capital One Cup final was far from a horror story for Bradford City's fans.

In fact, for the last 20 minutes of a match where City’s Welsh rivals had dominated, anyone tuning in on television and watching the 82,597 Wembley crowd could have easily thought the scoreline was reversed.

For while Swansea’s supporters remained on their seats as their team cruised to an emphatic victory, Bradford’s fans stood up, waved claret and amber flags, and sang for Phil Parkinson’s men like they were champions.

Far from the expected scenes of dejection on Wembley Way as the dream died, emotionally-drained supporters spoke of their pride for the nation’s favourite underdogs and thanked Phil Parkinson’s men for sharing their brave crusade with the city.

“I am gutted, but no one ever expected us to get here,” said David Baker, 24, of Bingley.

“The Bradford supporters were absolutely amazing.

“The last 20 minutes we showed our spirit and sang ourselves hoarse.

“The sight left me quite emotional. I was nearly in tears.”

Sonny Sharma, 41, of King’s Park, said he felt Bradford City’s giant killers – who had left Premier League big-hitters Arsenal, Aston Villa and Wigan in their wake to reach its first major cup final in 102 years – had not played their best.

But he added: “The fans are grateful to them for getting us to the final and giving us a great day out.

“We will be at Valley Parade for the Dagenham league game on Wednesday and will thank them again.”

His Bantams-mad nephew, 13-year-old Arjun Sharma, of Shipley, admitted he was quite depressed, but said: “We were the underdogs.”

And Julie Potter, 68, of Low Moor, who has supported the side for more than 50 years, hailed the day as her ‘proudest moment in a Bradford shirt’.

“I’m obviously disappointed, but our fans were incredible. The atmosphere was something I’d never experienced before. It was quite emotional “I honestly thought we could do it, but it just wasn’t to be. But we can hold our heads high –we showed the country what we’re all about in Bradford and may have changed a few perceptions.”

Even those who had travelled thousands of miles from around the world, spending thousands of pounds for the chance to see their League Two idols play at Wembley, said they did not feel it was a wasted journey.

Gary Young, 24, who spent £1,500 to fly in to London on a five-day trip from Sydney, Australia, told how he was proud of the side’s cup exploits.

“Yes, it was not the result that anyone wanted, but we were winners just by being here,” he said.

“I did think our name was on the cup after we beat Arsenal and Villa, and everyone likes to believe in fairytales and happy endings, but we showed our underdog spirit.

“I know it was a lot of money to spend for a football match, but it meant so much more than that. I’m so glad I was here to experience it.”

Bantams’ heavy defeat, which saw the side reduced to ten men after goalkeeper Matt Duke’s trailing leg felled Jonathan De Guzman, came at the end of a cup campaign that had already tested the soul.

Even the most hardened of fans had endured the most agonising spectrum of emotions.

The stomach-wrenching moments where the mountainous task of beating big-money sides seemed all but impossible. The heart-stopping agony of make-or-break penalties. The electric scenes of elation and ecstasy that left an intense glow around Valley Parade on the coldest of winter nights.

But for those supporters, Wembley promised to be something else. And that morning, they had hope.

In the tense hours before kick-off Wembley Way was awash with claret and amber, bringing new hues to its grey stone pavements – a change from the usual reds, blues and whites on cup final days.

And with the colour came optimism.

One Bantam, Christian Ingham, 27, of Shipley, was in buoyant mood despite being put through all the highs and lows that come with being a City fan before the game even began.

He missed his coach from Bradford and decided to sell his ticket, only to secure a lift to Wembley and was forced to buy another.

Waiting by the Bobby Moore statue, where rival supporters united to pay their respects to the legend on the 20th anniversary of his death in gentle snowfall, he said: “It’s been agony.

“I thought I couldn’t come but now I’m here, just waiting for my ticket.

“It feels surreal being here, especially after the morning I’ve had. But I think we’ll win 2-1. If we go on to win the cup it will be absolutely bananas!”

Paul Castleton, 46, of Wibsey, wearing a Bantams’ scarf and hat, said he felt like he was ‘dreaming’.

“When I woke up I couldn’t believe this day was here.

“I’ve been to Wembley before and when you step out of the concrete tunnels the stadium just takes your breath away. To see it filled with thousands of Bantams fans singing their hearts out will be amazing.”

His son 11-year-old son Tom is a player for Wyke Wanderers, which had cancelled fixtures so its staff and players could travel to the capital.

He said he had been inspired by Bantams’ cup campaign and it was his dream to play for Bradford City – maybe one day at Wembley.

But for another youngster, the biggest game in Bradford’s history for more than a century was his first experience of the beautiful game.

And his words gave a glimpse of the legacy Bantams’ phenomenal cup run will leave.

“I’ve never really been that much into football,” said Owen Wray, 11, of Shipley.

“I’ve always thought it was a game of overpaid players kicking a piece of leather into a net.

“Bradford City has changed that.”

Comments (8)

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2:57pm Mon 25 Feb 13

Oakenshaw white says...

Don't know how the 20,000 new fans will fit in the ground on Wednesday night.
Don't know how the 20,000 new fans will fit in the ground on Wednesday night. Oakenshaw white
  • Score: 0

3:15pm Mon 25 Feb 13

pokertee says...

Oakenshaw white wrote:
Don't know how the 20,000 new fans will fit in the ground on Wednesday night.
what a ****. have you nothing better to say? Did you just want the 11,000 season ticket holders to go?
[quote][p][bold]Oakenshaw white[/bold] wrote: Don't know how the 20,000 new fans will fit in the ground on Wednesday night.[/p][/quote]what a ****. have you nothing better to say? Did you just want the 11,000 season ticket holders to go? pokertee
  • Score: 0

6:09pm Mon 25 Feb 13

Rambo says...

Oakenshaw white wrote:
Don't know how the 20,000 new fans will fit in the ground on Wednesday night.
Leeds' crowds this season have been around 18,000 on several ocassions. Where are the extra 15,000 Top Man shirters who turn up for big cup games?
[quote][p][bold]Oakenshaw white[/bold] wrote: Don't know how the 20,000 new fans will fit in the ground on Wednesday night.[/p][/quote]Leeds' crowds this season have been around 18,000 on several ocassions. Where are the extra 15,000 Top Man shirters who turn up for big cup games? Rambo
  • Score: 0

7:10pm Mon 25 Feb 13

Steve-Swansea says...

I would just like to commend the Bradford City fans for their incredible support at Wembley. It was terrific to mix with the Bantams supporters on Saturday night, friendly banter with a terrific atmosphere. We at Swansea have had our lows, we are now savouring the highs, There is no reason why Bradford City cannot play at a higher level in the very near future. Best of luck for the rest of the season.
I would just like to commend the Bradford City fans for their incredible support at Wembley. It was terrific to mix with the Bantams supporters on Saturday night, friendly banter with a terrific atmosphere. We at Swansea have had our lows, we are now savouring the highs, There is no reason why Bradford City cannot play at a higher level in the very near future. Best of luck for the rest of the season. Steve-Swansea
  • Score: 0

10:59pm Mon 25 Feb 13

seasonticketholder says...

Steve-Swansea wrote:
I would just like to commend the Bradford City fans for their incredible support at Wembley. It was terrific to mix with the Bantams supporters on Saturday night, friendly banter with a terrific atmosphere. We at Swansea have had our lows, we are now savouring the highs, There is no reason why Bradford City cannot play at a higher level in the very near future. Best of luck for the rest of the season.
What a thoughtful and nice post unlike, a 'fan' from Oakenshaw who supports another team who play in white.
By and large the atmosphere was great apart from the result. Clealry the best team on the day won, and lets face it they are 70+ places above us. However how many teams 4-0 down could stand and sing/chant plus wave flags for the last 20 minutes!
[quote][p][bold]Steve-Swansea[/bold] wrote: I would just like to commend the Bradford City fans for their incredible support at Wembley. It was terrific to mix with the Bantams supporters on Saturday night, friendly banter with a terrific atmosphere. We at Swansea have had our lows, we are now savouring the highs, There is no reason why Bradford City cannot play at a higher level in the very near future. Best of luck for the rest of the season.[/p][/quote]What a thoughtful and nice post unlike, a 'fan' from Oakenshaw who supports another team who play in white. By and large the atmosphere was great apart from the result. Clealry the best team on the day won, and lets face it they are 70+ places above us. However how many teams 4-0 down could stand and sing/chant plus wave flags for the last 20 minutes! seasonticketholder
  • Score: 0

11:47pm Mon 25 Feb 13

Rambo says...

Steve-Swansea wrote:
I would just like to commend the Bradford City fans for their incredible support at Wembley. It was terrific to mix with the Bantams supporters on Saturday night, friendly banter with a terrific atmosphere. We at Swansea have had our lows, we are now savouring the highs, There is no reason why Bradford City cannot play at a higher level in the very near future. Best of luck for the rest of the season.
What I said was if we had to lose like that at least it was to a team that tried to play football the right way and a manager that exerted class and decency. No diving and cheating, no terrible decisions, no prima donnas and their off-pitch dramas. etc.

We're in the 4th division, played 5 games against PL millionaires and internationals and got one spanking.
[quote][p][bold]Steve-Swansea[/bold] wrote: I would just like to commend the Bradford City fans for their incredible support at Wembley. It was terrific to mix with the Bantams supporters on Saturday night, friendly banter with a terrific atmosphere. We at Swansea have had our lows, we are now savouring the highs, There is no reason why Bradford City cannot play at a higher level in the very near future. Best of luck for the rest of the season.[/p][/quote]What I said was if we had to lose like that at least it was to a team that tried to play football the right way and a manager that exerted class and decency. No diving and cheating, no terrible decisions, no prima donnas and their off-pitch dramas. etc. We're in the 4th division, played 5 games against PL millionaires and internationals and got one spanking. Rambo
  • Score: 0

10:36am Tue 26 Feb 13

POSTIE97 says...

I would just like to make a comment about the empty seats I observed from my vantage point in the pub. As the game started you could see a large number of empty seats in the centre of the opposite stand to the cameras, I said to my wife that those would belong to the corporate prawn sandwich brigade and that they would take their seats when they had had their fill of free food and drink. As the game went on this did not happen and the seats remained empty throughout the game. SHAME ON YOU CAPITAL ONE. Many many supporters from both clubs would have loved, like me to have been at the match and seeing the empty seats really upset me.
I would just like to make a comment about the empty seats I observed from my vantage point in the pub. As the game started you could see a large number of empty seats in the centre of the opposite stand to the cameras, I said to my wife that those would belong to the corporate prawn sandwich brigade and that they would take their seats when they had had their fill of free food and drink. As the game went on this did not happen and the seats remained empty throughout the game. SHAME ON YOU CAPITAL ONE. Many many supporters from both clubs would have loved, like me to have been at the match and seeing the empty seats really upset me. POSTIE97
  • Score: 0

2:06pm Tue 26 Feb 13

Michael Clayton says...

POSTIE97 wrote:
I would just like to make a comment about the empty seats I observed from my vantage point in the pub. As the game started you could see a large number of empty seats in the centre of the opposite stand to the cameras, I said to my wife that those would belong to the corporate prawn sandwich brigade and that they would take their seats when they had had their fill of free food and drink. As the game went on this did not happen and the seats remained empty throughout the game. SHAME ON YOU CAPITAL ONE. Many many supporters from both clubs would have loved, like me to have been at the match and seeing the empty seats really upset me.
Nothing to do with Capital One
[quote][p][bold]POSTIE97[/bold] wrote: I would just like to make a comment about the empty seats I observed from my vantage point in the pub. As the game started you could see a large number of empty seats in the centre of the opposite stand to the cameras, I said to my wife that those would belong to the corporate prawn sandwich brigade and that they would take their seats when they had had their fill of free food and drink. As the game went on this did not happen and the seats remained empty throughout the game. SHAME ON YOU CAPITAL ONE. Many many supporters from both clubs would have loved, like me to have been at the match and seeing the empty seats really upset me.[/p][/quote]Nothing to do with Capital One Michael Clayton
  • Score: 0

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