Fans’ flags at Wembley summed up memorable year for Bradford City (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Fans’ flags at Wembley summed up memorable year for Bradford City
For far too long, trying to pick a positive out of a year in the life of Bradford City has been like searching for a needle in a haystack.
But look back over the last 12 months and you are spoiled for choice.
The year 2013 will go down as a vintage one; a year to be savoured and talked about long into the future.
For joint-chairman Mark Lawn, it must have felt like all his Christmases had come at once.
Having stepped up alongside Julian Rhodes in 2007, Lawn’s tenure as co-owner had seen only disappointment and frustration. Highlights had been too few and far between.
Going to Wembley – not once but twice in the space of three months – changed all that. Suddenly the name Bradford City became a buzz phrase with all that is good about football.
No longer the laughing stock, they were the living proof that every underdog has its day. Or two ...
Wembley also provided a special moment that Lawn will always cherish.
No, it was not the win over Northampton that finally clinched promotion from League Two at the sixth time of trying.
Enjoying the emotion as Gary Jones and Co traipsed up the Wembley steps to accept their trophy had to settle for a close second.
Lawn’s vivid memory of an extraordinary year for the Bantams was about 70 minutes into the Capital One Cup final.
Swansea were cruising it, while City had barely mustered a kick in anger. If it had been a boxing match, the referee would have stepped in ages ago.
As a competitive cup final, it was a non-event. But you wouldn’t have guessed it as every West Yorkshire fan suddenly got to their feet to wave their claret and amber flags in an unscripted mass gesture of support.
It was an inspirational sight and one that projected Bradford City to a worldwide audience as an example to those who slink away when their team are losing.
That, for Lawn, really brought it home how much this long, long overdue success has meant to everyone associated with the club.
He recalled: “It was probably one of the best times in my life. We were losing 4-0 and getting thrashed and 34,000 fans started singing for 20 minutes.
“It was such an emotional period and I was absolutely choked watching it all.
“Everybody talks about the Northampton game and how good it was. But to me, that sight of all those flags will go to my grave.
“We were getting battered and I don’t think any other team would do that. It showed what the Bradford public are like.
“We knew it but it also showed the world what a special club we have.
“The comments we were getting from stewards on the way out were amazing – and those same stewards were there when we came back!”
Lawn joked that the Wembley car park attendant recognised his Bentley when he arrived for the play-off final.
“He looked at me and said ‘your usual spot, sir?’ It was quite funny to have the same guy parking you who’d been there for the cup final.
“Poor Northampton, I actually felt a bit sorry for them that day because everybody wanted us to win. Everyone you talked to at Wembley, all the staff, they were Bradford fans for the day because of what had happened against Swansea.
“It wasn’t just that we got beaten but the way that our supporters behaved. People remembered that. The fans have been absolutely magnificent this year. I’m not just ‘blowing smoke’, I really do mean that.
“They’ve made a difference with the atmosphere at Valley Parade because they have really got behind the side. You can feel that family-club atmosphere. That has been the biggest plus for me this year.
“Bradford as a city has had it tough. It’s nice as a Bradfordian to see how much the place was lifted when we went to Wembley twice.”
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