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03/04: Preview: Bradford City
Opposition opinion
by City fan Mark Hucks

What happened last season?
Last season was a strange one for City. During pre-season we wondered whether we'd even have a club to follow come August, and if so what players would wear the claret and amber, and in which division. Therefore, the season as it was can only be viewed as a happy one, despite conceding 73 goals and losing 22 games in all. Survival was the aim of the season, and thanks must be given to both Nicky Law and Julian Rhodes for doing all they possibly could to ensure that not only has the club survived (with its future secured), but the magic target of 50 points was reached to ensure division safety with a handful of games to spare.

The season started with a fresh and positive feel, largely due a shared sense of relief and the emergence of some promising youngsters. Whereas the 2001-2002 Season had at many times felt stale with our 'experienced' players frequently putting in uninspiring performances, the likes of Lewis Emmanuel, Mark Bower, Simon Francis and Danny Forrest all contributed to a greater sense of youth, team spirit and energy. Other shining lights were Andy Gray successfully adapting to his role as striker, "Dane-ger" Claus Jorgensen (aka 'Santa Claus', the 'Claussy Dane' etc) offering creativity, flair and an almost record breaking number of away goals, and David Wetherall and Peter Atherton returning from injury to offer much needed stability and calm.

What's going to happen next season?
If you take notice of the bookies, City haven't a chance in hell of promotion, and the likelihood is they'll have to battle bravely to avoid relegation. If you listen to the likes of Dean Windass and Peter Atherton, City should have a good campaign, and may even push for a play off spot. However, offering any decent prediction of the coming season is difficult as there are many unknowns in Nicky Law's remodelled squad. There is certainly plenty of potential but that is only of any use if it is fulfilled.

The manager has brought in players who have something to prove, whether that be the 34 year old favourite Windass, or the early twenty year olds such as Wolleaston, Heckingbottam and Cornwall. Much will depend on the success of these signings, the fitness of Atherton and Weatherall, Law's ability to manage a team he has shaped, the continuing development of the side's youngsters, and the return of individuals such as Combe and Kearney. There's a chance that it could be a very good season, meaning mid-table solidity and entertaining Saturday afternoons. I would welcome that wholeheartedly because it would confirm that City have overcome their off-field problems, and we're back on the way up! Hopefully the return of Dean Windass, and the arrival of a several young players from big clubs, will encourage the return of many fans to VP, and make it the noisy, vibrant stadium that Bradford and the team need so much.

My instinct is that it will be a similar season to last, with maybe a couple fewer losses, and the odd extra win, linked in with a few more goals. Nothing groundbreaking but certainly steps in the right direction and reasons to believe that better things are to come in the next few years. That said, if injuries are a problem, with the squad as it stands, the defence could be a problem for City. Time will tell.!

Can you recommend a pub for away fans?
Cartright Hotel on Manningham Lane. Always a mix of home and away fans enjoying a couple of pre-match pints.

What's the nearest railway station?
Bradford Foster Square (come out the station and turn right up the hill and keep walking straight until you see the stadium. 10 min walk approx.)

Where is the best place to park?
Canal Road's free and relatively easy to get away from, but if you want to be closer to the ground there's a pay to get in car park just down the road from the East/Ciba stand (to the right of the pitch looking from the away stand - note that road gets busy before and after the game though so a quick exit is impossible).

Word Association
Bradford City Mighty, mighty Bantams
Beckham sexy little David with his nice little white boots and suits
Milton Keynes Not to be
The Premiership Andy Townsend and Robbie Earle, offensively poor suits and punditry.
Division Two Sheffield Weds and Bristol City
Craig Ramage 'do some damage'
Watford 2-1! I mean, Micah Hyde of course...

Soundbites(from assorted Census correspondents)

"The last few questions suck and there was no point in doing it at all - answered it best I could though - good start but got a little stupid towards the end." (bet you're a bundle of fun at parties - ed)

"I'm very dangerous and don't like surveys, but I do like the Marcus Gayle playing at Centre Back so you're ok"

"Not being awkward about the e-mail address, it's not mine; can't offer you a job - can't get a proper one myself and the gaps in the team are cos of the new bodies we've got in and won't remember who goes where until I've seen 'em. Up the Bantams (thanks for the three points, you'll get your reward at your place)."

"Heidar Helguson is far better than most WFC fans rate him" (pretty damn good then - ed)

"Nicky Law is the third Mitchell brother from Eastenders"

"How the hell did you lot get Michael Chopra last year? What a player!"

"Not really, but just checking that we have the same deal as most seasons, you fluke a win at your place and we'll do the same at ours? Ow ad if young Ashley Wards still i the famous claret and amber when we next meet, have a collection for him will you, i mean who could realistically live off 18,000 a week when your not a footballer. Which believe you me, our Ashley aint!"

"The Daily ******* Mail? My god"

"We never win at Watford ... ever ... no matter how many times I come down ... we always play like twats ... so there's 3 points for you lot for a kick off"

"It was never a penalty, Pennant dived!"

"Vickerage Road always gives a great welcome to Bradford City Fans Thank you"

"I met a Watford fan in France a few years ago and he was a proper laugh. Stevie Bourne, if you read this, you're welcome to 'drop' Bradford on the 2nd of March."

"Get to your local clinic straight away,your bloody mental!"(my bloody mental what? - ed)

"This survey is stupid and you are all southern softies"

"Good luck next season, I look forward to the walk from your train station, through your shops, past the church and into the pub on the corner"