On Parade – with John Hendrie

I’ll never forget my first season here and the special group we had in the dressing room. Everyone had a point to prove.

There was myself, Greg Abbott and Martin Singleton who’d been kicked on the scrapheap by Coventry. Dave Evans had been given a free transfer from Halifax Town.

Then you had Stuart and Mark Ellis coming through the ranks and that wee bit of experience in the backbone of the side with Bobby Campbell, Eric McManus, John Hawley and Peter Jackson.

We were all hungry players who had that desire to go out there and show what we could do.

People talk to this day about the amazing team spirit. In all the clubs I’ve been at, I never experienced a team spirit like we had back then.

I’m sure that will be Stuart’s dream to create something similar.

We all lived in each other’s pockets back then. Stafford (Heginbotham, City’s chairman at the time) would come in the dressing room before a game and offer us £200 for a few drinks that night if we won.

We wouldn’t see him again until 2.50pm the following week and he’d make it double or quits. Looking at his “syrup”, we’d always ask when he was going to pay (toupee) – it would go straight over his head!

But that spirit was what it was about. There weren’t any little cliques in the squad; everyone got on.

I know three or four of the Bradford lads are going on holiday together this summer but every year we’d go away as a whole team – even the club secretary would come along. That’s how close we were.

It’s a massive thing to be like that. Look at the old Crazy Gang at Wimbledon, who went from being a nothing club right through to the Premier League and FA Cup winners. They were good players but the spirit there meant they would go that extra yard for each other.

It’s still possible to create that atmosphere now. If you get the right people in there, I don’t see why not.

Exeter are a great example with back-to-back promotions with the same squad. It’s about having the desire to do well. It’s got to be infectious, you can’t just teach that.

Stuart was probably the best disciple of that. After leaving Bradford, to go down to Sheffield United and play as long as he did is down to desire.

You also need the opportunity, particularly if you are a younger player trying to come through.

Who’s been the biggest success this year? Luke O’Brien. Was Luke Stuart’s number one left back at the start of the season? 100 per cent not.

He got in by chance because of injury to Hecky and nailed the position. He was head and shoulders above anyone else.

You’ve got to give opportunities to others like Leon Osborne and Luke Sharry. Some people say to me they aren’t good enough but how do we know? They’ve got to be given the chance to shine.

I saw Sharry playing central midfield in pre-season and he was shaping up well but since then he’s had Furman, Law, McLaren, Nix and Bullock in front of him and as a result he’s got no chance.

Osborne came on at Chesterfield and had a wee bit about him. He showed a bit of pace down the middle and looked lively.

I’m not saying they are the future but because Stuart’s hand has been forced, those boys might come in and might surprise people the way that Luke O’Brien has.

And nothing would give Stuart greater pleasure.

l John Hendrie, who is a sports consultant for LCF, was talking to Simon Parker.