First game of season has proved to be Thorney issue for Bradford City (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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First game of season has proved to be Thorney issue for Bradford City
It was a game that Peter Thorne will always remember for his overhead kick.
The first – and last – of his career according to the veteran goal poacher.
City fans will recall Thorne’s double against Notts County which opened the 2008-2009 campaign for another reason. It was the last time they got off to a winning start.
In the five years since dropping into the bottom flight, that 2-1 Valley Parade victory in August 2008 remains the only three points on opening day.
Not that City shot out the blocks much quicker before then, with just one win from the previous five curtain-raisers – a Bobby Petta-inspired 2-0 triumph at Hartlepool in 2005.
City have lost all three openers since Thorne’s heroics – the 5-0 humiliation at Notts County the next year followed up with defeats against Shrewsbury and Aldershot.
If Phil Parkinson is going to reverse the fortunes, he will have to do it the hard way. The fixture list, published yesterday, handed City a killer of a start.
Parkinson’s side were at their resilient best when they went to Gillingham to stifle the division’s leading scorers last November. They can expect another tough test on day one at Priestfield – particularly with a new manager at the Gills helm. Martin Allen is tipped to take over the vacancy left by Andy Hessenthaler.
Three days later, City open their home campaign against one of the top tips for promotion. Blue Square Bet Premier champions Fleetwood are spending big for their debut as a league club and will be revved up by the prospect of visiting Valley Parade.
City’s credentials as serious players this season will be put to the test by facing two of the pre-season favourites in the first four games.
The visit to Rotherham on September 1 offers an early glimpse at their New York base – a welcome break from the soulless Don Valley Stadium.
It will also feel a lot warmer, particularly with Steve Evans now installed in the Millers’ dug-out. With memories, fines and bans still fresh from the battle of Crawley, the home manager can guarantee the hottest of receptions from a large travelling army.
There is no gentle lead-in for a campaign which is being talked about in optimistic terms around the club’s corridors of power.
Parkinson himself is not intimidated by the quality of early opponent.
“We proved last year that there isn’t a great difference between the top and the bottom,” he said. “Play well and you can beat anybody.
“It’s a challenging start but I’m expecting us to be stronger this year. We’ll be as fit and strong as anyone by the time we go to Gillingham.”
York’s welcome return has added a second Yorkshire derby, and the October 13 clash will be their first visit to Valley Parade since a 2-2 draw in March 1996. City travel to Lee Bullock’s new club in March.
Christmas week, at least, is kind on the fans again with home games against Accrington on Boxing Day and Rochdale three days later. New Year’s Eve hangovers can be nursed with a short trip to Morecambe.
There are slightly less miles on the clock next season but most of them come in a rush at the back end with all three West Country treks in a row.
City go to Plymouth and Exeter in the space of four days before returning to Devon on Easter Monday to take on Torquay.
And the season ends a week earlier than usual with another trip down the M5 to Cheltenham.