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Guy Branston's Bond with Bradford City hard to break
It could come from the script of the next 007 film. “So, Mr Branston, we meet again.”
An unused substitute at Aldershot, a first-minute goalscorer at Bristol Rovers and now the trilogy continues with another reunion for Plymouth. Guy Branston seems to be stalking City around the south of England.
Facing your former club with three different teams in the same season makes for an unusual line in football trivia – even if Branston’s memory did need a nudge about the first encounter four months ago.
“I almost forgot I played for Aldershot,” he said. “What a farcical place that was.
“I went there with aspirations of challenging but they were a million miles away. I just wanted to play regularly but it never happened.
“Leaving a big club like Bradford for a smaller one like that hit home that I’d made a wrong decision.”
From there to Bristol, where he began his loan with that bullet header past Matt Duke in a 3-3 draw at the Memorial Stadium.
But Rovers boss Mark McGhee was then sacked and John Ward immediately made it clear that he would be using his own players.
When Dean Holdsworth, soon to receive his own P45, stressed there would be no return to Aldershot it left Branston without a club for Christmas.
So Branston trained on his own at Torquay Community College while spending his free time developing the allaboutballerz website he is behind to get players noticed further down the football ladder.
He used that to earn himself his next chance at Plymouth, showing DVDs of those fitness sessions to new Argyle manager John Sheridan.
Tonight will be his tenth appearance for the Pilgrims and, while they may sit bottom, Branston is loving every minute of the survival scrap.
“As much as Bradford are massive, Plymouth are a huge club and the catchment area is ridiculous. It’s like Bradford with no Leeds – there is nothing anywhere near.
“Torquay and Exeter are the closest but can’t compete for size. Put them together and that would make Plymouth.”
After their last clash, James Hanson complained of scratches down his neck and arms caused by Branston’s nails. The centre half is up for another physical encounter with his old team-mate – and he’s sure the feeling is mutual.
“As much as he moans, I know he likes it and I’m expecting another tough game. Whoever they play up there, whether it’s him or Thompson or Wells, it’s going to be a battle.
“The game becomes more important to me because of what happened last season. But it’s a big one anyway because Bradford are trying to get in the play-offs and we’re fighting for our lives.”
And Branston can expect a bit more attention at Plymouth set-pieces than before.
“I watched every Bradford (Capital One) cup game and saw them marking all these top Premier League people left, right and centre at corners. I had to smile because they hadn’t marked me that well at Bristol Rovers!”