Fans’ flags at Wembley summed up memorable year for Bradford City

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: City supporters’ inspirational Wembley backing will live long in the memory of Mark Lawn City supporters’ inspirational Wembley backing will live long in the memory of Mark Lawn

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.”

Comments (4)

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11:49am Tue 24 Dec 13

Old Peculiar says...

There's been a decade's worth of headlines for the Bantams in 2013, but as for highlight - got to agree with Lawn. At 4-0 down, the City support was amazing, never ever have I experienced this level of support before, and I don't think I ever will again. To be loosing 4-0, and to be as happy as a pig in sheet, well i think you get the idea. Magnificent. Luckily, I'd been to just about all of the preliminary rounds, so felt a bit sorry for those who's Wembley day was a bit of a let down in terms of football, but I don't think any Claret n Ambers came away from that match without a renewed sense of support.
Onwards n Upwards, with the Mighty Bantams all the way.
There's been a decade's worth of headlines for the Bantams in 2013, but as for highlight - got to agree with Lawn. At 4-0 down, the City support was amazing, never ever have I experienced this level of support before, and I don't think I ever will again. To be loosing 4-0, and to be as happy as a pig in sheet, well i think you get the idea. Magnificent. Luckily, I'd been to just about all of the preliminary rounds, so felt a bit sorry for those who's Wembley day was a bit of a let down in terms of football, but I don't think any Claret n Ambers came away from that match without a renewed sense of support. Onwards n Upwards, with the Mighty Bantams all the way. Old Peculiar

1:15pm Tue 24 Dec 13

KnightMcCall says...

Well, I definitely have one thing in common with Lawn then. When any of my mates mention the cup run, I think of two things. Firstly I think of the final whistle going at Villa Park. It was the happiest day of my football supporting life; City were going to Wembley for a "proper" fixture and that was always the achievement. Beating a Premier League side over two legs is an incredible feat for a League Two side...we had made history and that sort of thing lives forever.

The second best thing was the 70th minute at Wembley. It was quite magical; almost as though a flash mob had been set up and the world saw football for what it should be. No glory supporting Man yoo, Chelski or other "big" team fan will ever get the sense of pride that we felt in those 20 minutes. 2013 saw only one magical moment in football and it started in the 70th minute of the League Cup final. The total antithesis of the money-grabbing win at all costs **** that is the Premier League. So pleased that it was a proper football club that won the match too; the Swans definitely hadn't forgotten where they had come from.
Well, I definitely have one thing in common with Lawn then. When any of my mates mention the cup run, I think of two things. Firstly I think of the final whistle going at Villa Park. It was the happiest day of my football supporting life; City were going to Wembley for a "proper" fixture and that was always the achievement. Beating a Premier League side over two legs is an incredible feat for a League Two side...we had made history and that sort of thing lives forever. The second best thing was the 70th minute at Wembley. It was quite magical; almost as though a flash mob had been set up and the world saw football for what it should be. No glory supporting Man yoo, Chelski or other "big" team fan will ever get the sense of pride that we felt in those 20 minutes. 2013 saw only one magical moment in football and it started in the 70th minute of the League Cup final. The total antithesis of the money-grabbing win at all costs **** that is the Premier League. So pleased that it was a proper football club that won the match too; the Swans definitely hadn't forgotten where they had come from. KnightMcCall

7:41pm Tue 24 Dec 13

bobbyo says...

Il second the above two sentiments too and also marks! Absolutely magical and so glad and happy to have been there for both occasions. All the best mark, julian , the staff and players and the magnificent mighty bantams fans, onwards and upwards, CTID.
Il second the above two sentiments too and also marks! Absolutely magical and so glad and happy to have been there for both occasions. All the best mark, julian , the staff and players and the magnificent mighty bantams fans, onwards and upwards, CTID. bobbyo

11:57am Thu 26 Dec 13

Durko11 says...

I don't get to many games due to living in aus but coming home for the cup final has left me feeling a huge sense of pride for my fellow Bradford fans. Not only did we turn up in our numbers (like always) but we more than matched our opponents in noise and enthusiasm.
After so many years of struggle it really was an unbelievable season.
CTID
I don't get to many games due to living in aus but coming home for the cup final has left me feeling a huge sense of pride for my fellow Bradford fans. Not only did we turn up in our numbers (like always) but we more than matched our opponents in noise and enthusiasm. After so many years of struggle it really was an unbelievable season. CTID Durko11

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