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02/03: Reports:

Nationwide Division One, 19/04/03
Bradford City
Pie-less in Bradford
By David Rivers

There has been much discussion of late on the Watford Mailing List about the number of people who leave football grounds early, notably our FA Cup Semi-Final against Southampton.

Mind you, I am also guilty of this trait and can remember leaving the Vic early in the good old days on more than one occasion, having endured a brain-numbing 0-0 draw with Scunthorpe United only to hear a roar from the 4,500 faithful acclaiming a ninetieth minute winner from Terry Melling, thereby justifying his 2000.00 price tag from Newport County.

Thus it was that I viewed with considerable interest the number of Bradford fans who left their seats high up in the main stand to seek the warmth of the Patrons Bar ten minutes before half-time. The reason as it transpired was the steak and potatoe pie on offer at a very reasonable 1.90. The catch was that chef had only micro-waved about a dozen. Obviously the Bradford faithful knew this and went in search of a pie rather than see whether they could increase their lead against a Watford side looking, shall we say, a wee bit vulnerable.

So it was that I was pie-less at halftime. Chef even put in an appearance complete with gaudy trousers, white smock and chef's hat. Quite why this was needed to microwave a few pies was beyond me, but as Watford's plans regarding breaching a modest Bradford defence (in which Molenaar shone like the veteran performer he is) were equally half-baked, it was no surprise that we lost this one.

Sitting in my lofty perch atop the main stand, the very audible away end (well done everybody) looked a more alluring prospect, until I saw the Bradford stewards entering the stand to convey their own style of Easter greetings and eject a few individuals for presumably daring to breathe. I decided to stay at altitude despite the ice beginning to form on the armrests of my seat. (Yes, all right, I had armrests and an extra layer of plastic, but it was still bloody cold.)

The game? Well, a definite end of term atmosphere prevailed here. The back four of Mahon, Dyche, Brown and Robbo prompted one Bradfordonian to comment on the resemblance to a rugby team in physique. Having spent much of the season watching rugby union in Yorkshire League Division 2, I'm not sure this was entirely true, although I am ready to concede that Mahon could be a contender to fix Ripon's current lack of a prop forward.

Bradford's first goal had an air of inevitably about it. Suffice to say that having failed to clear our lines after two corners, I had already pressed myself low into my seat (extra padding or not) and had exclaimed "oh bugger" seconds before Jorgenson headed home in the thirteenth minute.

All the time we continued to look sure-footed and controlled, Without achieving anything. A rare moment of excitement came when Hyde was rather startled to find the ball bouncing invitingly at his feet about thirty yards from goal. Having stared at the ball for a split second, the midfielder laconically raised his left foot and truly wellied it, whereupon the ball hit the underside of the bar but bounced over to safety.

Several moments of football came and went in which neither side did very much while the frostbite in the main stand was in danger of needing attention of the St. John's Ambulance Brigade. Then H was played in, looked up and sent a sumptious lob over Davison from twenty-five yards, one bounce and in. Pure class and one to emulate Chopra's effort against Burnley.

This was more like it and half-time was only minutes away as pie-conscious Bradford fans began to file from their seats. Then disaster. Play entered our box, but was far away from danger. Dyche appeared to have made some sort of challenge and the ball was surely destined for a goal kick. One of the advantages of sitting high up in vertigo-land is that the players appear as chess pieces and one can actually follow their thought processes as the pattern of play unfolds, not always obvious from pitch level. One could be several hundreds of feet high however and still not be able to fathom the thought processes of Mr. Laws from Whitley Bay. For such an innocuous challenge and with Bradford going nowhere, he blew for a penalty.

Gray scored with ease and I left my seat in some gloom, a mental condition made worse by the discovery that the dozen or so Brasdfrod fans who had left early had managed to watch the penalty on television from the warmth of the bar and scoffed all the pies. Hmmm.

The second half proved unbelievably dull, apart from H arriving in the back of the net on one occasion instead of the ball which he had inexplicably headed wide from two yards. Chopra and McNamee came on with six minutes left, too late to change anything. To be fair, we had looked reasonably comfortable in defence but the magical pairing of Hyde and Johnno is still some way off the heights we all fondly remember. But they played well and competed and so yes we clapped at the end. Very end of term, the result did not really matter too much and you sense next season is going to be even more interesting.

Bradford look as if they will be more than okay too. If it's a toss up between Ashley Ward's wages or more pies, I know which I would rather have!