PARK Avenue will go into 2018 in the play-off places in Vanarama National North after a first half of the season that no one predicted.

Bradford were down with the dead men when former Bantams defender Mark Bower took over the reins 15 months ago. There were two months of the season gone and the club was already out of the FA Cup.

Bower had been player coach at FC Halifax Town after his long career in the full-time game had ended and had then cut his teeth in management at neighbours Guiseley, getting the Lions promoted into the then-named Conference.

He kept the small, unfashionable club in the fifth tier of English football but paid the ultimate price after a poor start to their second season in the non-league top flight.

That meant he was available when Avenue needed a change and he has hauled the club up by its bootlaces.

But one Horsfall official is frustrated that the rise has not attracted more support.

Club ambassador and match-day steward Shazad Parvez, known to everyone as Shadow, cannot understand his city’s apathy towards Avenue.

He said: “The way that Mark has got this team playing is unbelievable and there should be more supporters coming through the gates.

“A lot of people didn’t give us a chance of staying up last season and players didn’t want to come because the club looked relegation certainties.

"Mark pulled a few strings and he got players in that he’d worked with at other clubs and we stayed up.

“This season he had his budget cut but we’re over-performing if anything. I don’t know anything about the backing from the board or anything like that, I’m not that high up in the club, but I do know that the team is playing good football.

“It’s not just entertaining, it’s getting results as well and we’re winning games by big margins. To go to Southport and beat them 4-0 away is amazing and the way we played there was excellent."

Parvez, who is co-founder of the charity, Sports Campaign Against Racism (SCAR), added: “We shouldn’t be playing in front of two or three hundred people though because the people of the city should be getting behind this team.

"They should at least be coming to home games. I don’t expect them to follow the club home and away but you’d think that they would be curious enough to come and see Avenue play.

“I think that if they did, they would see how well Mark has got them playing and they’d get behind the club.

“This club shouldn’t have to be asking the supporters that it’s got to be contributing for player funds. There should be bigger crowds at Horsfall Stadium for every game to back the club.”

Avenue launched an appeal for contributions a fortnight ago and almost £10,000 has already been raised. That money will go directly to Bower to boost the playing budget.