HALF a century has now passed since Bradford (Park Avenue) lost their Football League status.

The curtain came down on May 30, 1970 in the plush surrounds of the Café Royal in London’s Regent Street.

It was there that the votes were cast in the annual re-election process where clubs decided who they wanted to save.

Avenue had to apply for the fourth straight year – and their luck finally ran out.

Darlington, Hartlepool and Newport, who had also finished in the bottom four, were comfortably saved.

But Avenue polled just 17 votes – fewer than the two non-league teams applying for promotion, Cambridge and Wigan.

The club delegation of chairman Herbert Metcalfe, manager Frank Tomlinson, vice-chairman George Sutcliffe and coach Ron Lewin heard the devastating news that their place would be taken by Cambridge.

For the first time in 63 years, Avenue were a non-league club and Bradford’s proud “wool city” derby was no more. Future meetings between the teams would be of the pre-season friendly variety.

They had played 52 times in league combat and four in the cup.

The last “proper” derby was at Avenue on January 25, 1969 when 10,784 witnessed a scrappy goalless draw.

City, who gave a debut to Norman Corner that day, would end the season with promotion in fourth spot.

They consolidated the following year finishing 10th in Division Three while Avenue – who had won five of their final 10 derbies - were heading towards Football League oblivion.

In his book, “Bradford City, a complete record 1903-1988”, author Terry Frost chronicles the rivalry that had existed since Avenue were elected into the league.

The first game between the two Bradford teams took place on Tuesday, November 19, 1907 when a Valley Parade crowd of around 14,000 saw City win 2-1 with goals from Frank O’Rourke and George Handley.

O’Rourke netted both goals when City claimed another victory by the same margin in the West Yorkshire Cup final at Avenue five months later.

City’s ace marksman would continue to prove a thorn in Avenue’s side with the match-winner as the FA Cup holders edged a third-round tie in February 1912 – the ninth in the club’s record sequence of 12 games in the competition without conceding.

Frost recorded that 15 Scottish players featured in that game, which was watched by 24,833 spectators.

The first all-Bradford league match took place at Valley Parade on October 24, 1914. City won a thrilling contest 3-2 in front of an audience of 29,802 – many of whom were wearing army uniform at the outbreak of World War One.

Avenue gained their revenge in the return fixture with a 3-0 win the following April, their last meeting in peacetime. They finished the season one point and one place above City in ninth in Division One.

That would turn out to be the highest position in the club's history.

When league football resumed, Avenue reached 11th in 1920 – the best of all Yorkshire clubs.

But they suffered the ignominy of successive relegations, the Bantams also going down from Division One to set an unenviable record as the first time that two teams from the same city suffered the drop in the same season.

The wool city rivalry recommenced in 1927-1928 in Division Three North, where Avenue ruled the roost by claiming the double.

A 3-2 first league win at Valley Parade was watched by a record derby attendance of 37,059.

Avenue, who went on to lift the title, then thumped their neighbours 5-0 – the biggest peacetime winning margin until City won by the same score-line in 1956.

City’s cause was not helped by missing two penalties through Ted Richardson and Sam Russell.

Avenue’s successful Bradford-born manager, Claude Ingram, had been City’s long-time secretary before switching clubs to take up a role he would keep for nine years.

Wartime football between 1939-1945 saw Avenue dominate with 12 wins and only five defeats in 21 games, including a 10-0 romp at Valley Parade in 1942. Len Shackleton scored two – but would net five in an 8-0 thrashing a year later.

City enjoyed an unbeaten run in derby games through the 1950s when Avenue’s fortunes began to wane. But Avenue claimed a hefty 7-3 success in the only League Cup derby in 1963.

Avenue sold striker Kevin Hector to Derby for a club record £34,000 in September 1966 and their fall from grace accelerated before the last meeting with City in 1969 would prove a wool-city final hurrah.

AVENUE: Hardie, Hudson, Singleton, Atkinson, Hopkins, Conley, Clancy, Charnley, Brown, Henderson, Brannan. Sub: Robinson.

CITY: Liney, Atkins, Bayliss, Stowell, Hallett, Leighton, Hall, Ham, Corner, Middleton, Bannister. Sub: Rackstraw.