Parkinson hits 100 not out and is poised to eclipse Todd's 124-game reign (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Phil Parkinson hits 100 not out and is poised to eclipse Colin Todd's 124-game Bantams reign
What have Ross Hannah, Lewis Hunt, Matt Clarke and Guylain Ndumbu-Nsungu got in common?
They all had the honour of scoring the first goals for respective Bradford City managers.
Ndumbu-Nsungu saved Stuart McCall’s hot-seat debut against Macclesfield by tapping in the rebound after Barry Conlon’s tame penalty had been saved.
Clarke set Peter Taylor on the way to his first win in charge at Rochdale and Hunt poked home his one and only City goal for Peter Jackson against Rotherham.
First appearances can be deceptive – none of those players went on to make a long-standing impression on the gaffer whose career they had kick-started.
And the same can be said for Hannah, who launched the Park-inson era in breathless fashion.
The game at Morecambe in September 2011 was well into added time when Hannah, who had come off the bench 20 minutes earlier, swept home a cross from fellow substitute Jack Compton.
Scored right under the noses of the ecstatic away end, Hannah was swamped by a seething mass of Bantam bodies. Even the T&A photographer was swept up in the scrum.
In fact, I have to admit that the sight of our snapper getting bowled over by Hannah and his cohorts remains the abiding memory from the distant day.
So much has happened since that I could not recall the goal itself without consulting the oracle of Youtube.
On Tuesday, Parkinson will reach a century of league games as City manager. That is hardly in the Ferguson or Wenger envelope but by Valley Parade standards that is worthy of a gold clock.
Only four others – Frank Stapleton, Paul Jewell, McCall and Colin Todd – have lasted that long since Trevor Cherry was sacked over 26 years ago.
Todd’s 124-game reign remains the longest during that period. Parkinson is on course to pass that when City visit Shrewsbury in March.
If anything, the manager’s league debut on the Lancashire coast seems even further back than two years ago. The Parkinson era seems to have gone on ages.
That is not meant in any disparaging way but completely the opposite. So much has been crammed into his time, that it feels almost impossible that everything has happened in the equivalent of just two full seasons.
Just look back at the side he fielded at the Globe Arena – only three remain. Kyel Reid, his first signing less than a week earlier, was handed his debut that day; the other survivors are James Hanson and Luke Oliver.
Matt Duke, another immediate capture, was playing his first game in goal behind a back four also featuring Liam Moore, Guy Branston and Robbie Threlfall.
It is an unrecognisable side from the one that will bring up Parkinson’s three figures at Deepdale in Preston.
In fact that team had been completely dismantled within a year and rebuilt with firmer foundations built from steel rather than sand.
Of course it’s not been all sweetness and light. Parkinson’s City have lost 32 out of 98 so far, three fewer than they have won.
This afternoon’s visit to Crawley will rekindle thoughts of that lawless night at Valley Parade and the post-match punch-up which left the manager shell-shocked.
Parkinson looked like he had seen a ghost when he eventually emerged to meet the press. It is still the only occasion I have witnessed when he has not appeared in full control of the situation.
There are moments when the red mist descends on the touchline – Ian Goodison’s forearm on Reid for example – but it has been a long time since such a cool and calculated hand has been on the City rudder.
Next week may appear a minor milestone but it is another signpost to remind everyone at Valley Parade that the club continue to head the right way under Parkinson’s guidance. Just look at how far they have come already.
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