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Rory McArdle flags up memorable contribution of Bradford City fans
It was the moment when Rory McArdle saw once again what a big club Bradford City can be.
Not that the Northern Ireland international really needed to be reminded. It was more a case of yet more proof about why he chose to head for Valley Parade last summer.
Swansea were 4-0 up and strolling towards Capital One Cup glory. It would be their first major trophy in the club’s centenary year.
Plenty of reason, then, for the Welsh supporters to be in fine voice and celebrating the most crushing of final victories – a record scoreline in League Cup history.
But the noise swirling around Wembley was generated by the other end. The beaten Bantams, who had still not managed a shot of any sort, were being roared home by the claret and amber army.
“I think it was about the 65th minute when all of a sudden the flags came up and everybody was singing,” said McArdle.
“It just gave the lads that little bit extra. On another day, after going down to ten men, we could have caved in a little bit and it could have been an absolute rout.
“But when you see that, it keeps everyone going. That’s why Bradford City attract players to the club.
“You look at the size of that fanbase. I don’t think many other League Two teams – or any – would have brought 36,000 down. Even in League One you’d be struggling to get that.
“It shows how big a club we are and it’s just great for the lads to give something back to the fans with a day like Wembley.
“I hope that all the supporters still enjoyed it, though obviously the result would have taken the gloss off the day.
“The achievement itself in getting to the final was massive. I got a lot of text messages from friends saying that, regardless of what happens.
“Everyone in football, not just in Bradford, will recognise what we have done.”
The next phase of City’s season starts at Valley Parade tomorrow with the visit of Dagenham. It may sound like returning to earth with a hefty thump but McArdle sees it as the perfect chance to thank the fans for their backing.
He said: “It’s good that it’s at home. This has been a hell of a week for everyone involved, both mentally and physically.
“To get back to a normal week as such might be a breath of fresh air. We’re not going to be travelling here, there and everywhere again.
“We can get back on to it in the league now. That’s the cup over and done with.
“From the Wigan game onwards, it’s been miraculous, but everyone was always looking forward to the next cup game. Now we can maintain our focus on the league and get back to where we want to be.”
McArdle has not seen any League Two action since injuring his ankle at Fleetwood at the start of the month. But he came through Sunday’s Michu-led examination without any injury problems.
The City defender said: “The physios have been great. I can’t give them enough credit.
“If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be stood here talking about the game. I would have had no chance of making it.
“The ankle was fine. I trained all week and there was no reaction and I wasn’t worried coming into the game.
“I owe a lot to Matt (Barrass) and Chris (Royston). To miss Sunday would have been horrendous.
“The occasion was massive, the fans were great and I’m sure they had a good night afterwards as well.”
McArdle insists there was no disgrace in defeat – even by such a wide margin. At least City will not have to face a side with Swansea’s calibre again this season.
He said: “They played a very similar way to Wigan. But the difference was they took their chances whereas at Wigan, Dukey (Matt Duke) made some good saves.
“On another day, if we’d gone it at half-time at 1-0 it might have been a different game. But that’s all ifs and buts.
“We’ve done extremely well to get this far but also rode our luck along the way. Unfortunately our luck finally ran out.
“Nobody likes losing football games, especially by a scoreline like that. But we’ll remember playing at Wembley in a cup final for the rest of our lives.”