RYAN Cresswell’s spell at Bradford (Park Avenue) was certainly one for fans to forget.

The experienced defender started the 2019/20 campaign as captain. Five starts, five losses and 22 goals conceded later, he was released at the end of October.

Being hooked at half-time in the 8-0 drubbing at the hands of Brackley Town was the last time Cresswell appeared in an Avenue shirt.

However, he believes his dismal spell at Horsfall wasn’t all down to his own performances on the pitch.

The centre back said: “It was a very bad start in regards to Garry Thompson having his hands behind his back and his feet tied together to assemble a squad. I ended up going to Bradford for next to nothing.

“The club had ambitions but, financially, didn’t want to back them. They lost their players, the owner pulled the budget and said to Garry, 'sign a squad with this much money'. He could not afford any experience, there was only me.

“The fans thought I was this overpaid, luxury player. I went to help Garry out because he needed a centre half with some experience. I had not done a pre-season, so I was chasing fitness.

“A week into the season my wife gave birth to our first child, complications with the birth meant I had to be at home. The club didn’t like that so I thought, 'hold on a minute'.

“If you are not willing to go pay for a player to make the club better, then don’t go moaning at me when I am needed by my family.”

Two managers bit the dust during Cresswell’s short lived spell at the club. Thompson (two) and Marcus Law (10) only lasted 12 games. He believes it was Bradford’s failure to back the pair that meant they performed severely under par.

Cresswell added: “I was devastated for Garry (when he was sacked). I just think he was so poorly treated in terms of his recruitment process.

“To make the club even competitive was a task he took on, because it was his opportunity to become a manager. You can’t knock him for trying.

“Marcus came in with the right ideas but he didn’t have the squad or funds. You need that fine balance between youth, experience and energy, we didn’t have it.

“I am not knocking the lads because they tried their hardest. It is just the reality, that they won’t play at that level again.”

Despite receiving criticism from supporters, Cresswell does wish his time in West Yorkshire had turned out differently and he tells the tale of something one Avenue fan did that he will never forget.

He said: “It was so frustrating my time at Bradford because I like the club and the fans. The perception they had of me was upsetting.

“But one fan called Brian gave me a £1 coin in the stand after he heard about the birth of my little girl and said, 'put that in her tin'. It was such a nice gesture.”

Before arriving at Avenue, Cresswell had racked up over 200 Football League appearances with the likes of Rotherham United and Northampton Town.

However, during his peak, Cresswell had to battle his own demons, mainly alcoholism. He reckons he would have played double the amount of games without his issues, which led to a lot of injuries.

“It affected me for a couple of years injuries wise,” Cresswell revealed. “I would have played another 200 times with the games I missed. Drinking was a release from reality, which was my dark place, drink got me out of that. It was just a spiralling effect.

“I have good times and bad. During this lockdown I have been struggling. I need that help. I just find myself lost in my thoughts. It is difficult times for people and I am no different.”

It is in this uncertain period where the 32-year-old finds himself at a crossroads. After leaving Bradford, Cresswell had an unsuccessful spell at Romford and most recently, starred for Parkgate. He admits that he still has lofty ambitions of one day returning to the Football League.

The ex-pro added: “Since Covid-19, my phone has not rung from a manager. It used to ring all the time. It hurts personally because you are not wanted.

“There is always that burning desire to get back in the Football League. I would love to get fit as a fiddle and go play in League Two.

“The reality has to set in. I have got to look at another career, whether that is in football or not. I don’t know what the future holds for me.”