TODAY marks the 50th anniversary of one of the darkest days in Bradford (Park Avenue)’s history.

The Northern Premier League club were liquidated at the end of the 1973-74 campaign, with the last-ever game in their original guise coming at home to Great Harwood in the Northern Premier League on May 2, 1974.

The game took place at Bradford City’s ground, Valley Parade, which is where Avenue played their home games in their final season.

Unsurprisingly, many Bradford fans did not fancy attending matches at the home of their bitter rivals, meaning the club’s average home attendance that season was just 645, as opposed to 1,155 the season prior.

Strangely, Great Harwood had also been the last-ever visitors to Park Avenue, in Bradford’s final home game of the 1972-73 season.

And despite the bleak backdrop to this May 1974 game, Avenue at least signed off on a winning note, beating Great Harwood 1-0 thanks to a goal from captain Mick Fleming.

Having been made aware of Bradford’s voluntary liquidation, West Ham manager Ron Greenwood, a former centre half for Avenue, wrote something of a love letter to his old side in the London Evening Standard on April 23, 1974, which was reproduced for the club’s final-ever programme nine days later.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: West Ham manager and future England boss Ron Greenwood shares his Bradford (Park Avenue) memories.West Ham manager and future England boss Ron Greenwood shares his Bradford (Park Avenue) memories. (Image: Tim Clapham.)

Just three years later, Greenwood took on arguably the most pressurised job in the country, as he was named England manager.

Greenwood was already an established name in football by 1974, having led West Ham to FA Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup glory in the mid-1960s, but Keith Hackett was a virtual unknown at the time.

He refereed this historic final Avenue game at the age of just 29, but his ability meant he was soon granted a bigger stage.

In 1981, he took charge of the FA Cup final between Tottenham and Manchester City, as well as the subsequent replay, while a golden year in 1988 saw him officiate at both the European Championships and Olympics.

At the end of his career, he also refereed in the first two Premier League seasons, 1992-93 and 1993-94.

By then, Avenue had been reincarnated (having spent 1974 to 1987 as a Sunday league club only), and the season after Hackett’s retirement, they were promoted from the North West Counties League to the Northern Premier League, more than 20 years after their last game in there.

Bradford have since enjoyed 12 seasons in National League North, the sixth tier of English football, but are now back in the Northern Premier League.

They were relegated from its Premier Division at the end of this season, meaning their 2024-25 campaign will take place in the NPL East Division, alongside fellow West Yorkshire sides such as Liversedge, Ossett United and Pontefract Collieries.

*My sincere thanks to Avenue historian Tim Clapham for his significant help and input on this piece.