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Bradford City's chances of scooping SPOTY'S team award are akin to the Jamaican bobsleigh squad getting the overseas vote
Bradford City will be digging out their best bib and tucker for the next chapter of the remarkable tale of 2013.
Phil Parkinson, his assistant Steve Parkin and a select group of players will take their seats at the Leeds Arena tomorrow night as part of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards.
They aren’t just in the audience to make up the numbers because it happens to be on the doorstep. The Bantams party are there on official invites.
Which inevitably does beg the question about their chances of scooping the prestigious team award.
It seems unbelievable to think that a side who spent the first half of the year in the bottom tier of the professional game could be possible contenders. Akin to the Jamaican bobsleigh squad getting the overseas vote.
But then after what has transpired around Valley Parade in the past 12 months, the surreal seems almost normal. Don’t rule out anything.
The Beeb aren’t giving any hints anyway. An inquiry yesterday was met with a straight bat that Alistair Cook would be proud of.
I was informed that there is no shortlist for the team of the year category. It is only done for the individual award because that is the one voted for by viewers.
And there were no other clues other than an “understanding” that some City personnel had been invited along.
Just the fact that the club have got those tickets should be reason enough to celebrate. As Parkinson pointed out, that in itself is an acknowledgement of their achievements.
“I think it’s great,” said the City boss. “It’s a programme I always watch and really enjoy and to be asked to go is tremendous.
“It would be nice if we did get a mention along the way. But whether or not that happens it’s just nice that we’ve been recognised.
“I can’t hide away from it. When we got the invitation, we were so pleased.
“This is one of the highlights on the English sporting calendar and everyone I know looks forward to watching it on the Sunday night.
“To actually be there is something we’re going to enjoy. And it will be even better if we go there on the back of a win over the leaders.”
Several of the personnel that will tackle Leyton Orient this afternoon are expected to join him and Parkin. Skipper Gary Jones is certainly one of them and he is likely to be joined by James Hanson, Nahki Wells and Rory McArdle – the three Wembley play-off scorers.
City are far from favourites to lift the prestigious prize. But then it was their odds-defying efforts as underdogs which have got them this close in the first place.
With no Olympics or major championships this summer, the field should be more open than ever. It is probably the right time for a club to win it for the first time since St Helens in 2006.
They got the plaudits that year for winning rugby league’s double of the Grand Final and Challenge Cup. The fact that Wigan Warriors have emulated that this year would push their claims to follow their fierce rivals.
In the 15-man code, the British and Irish Lions will be strong contenders for their 2-1 series win in Australia over the summer.
England’s cricketers retained the Ashes at home without conceding a Test. But their current struggles Down Under would make a mockery of their chances of repeating the success of 2009.
Cycling always does well and the Great British women triumphed in the world championships in Mexico, breaking their own track records along the way.
But does that capture the romance of a team that came from nowhere to grab the national attention – and affection – by making Wembley their second home?
I may be biased and massively so but is there a sporting story in this country that can match that? We shall see.
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