Book Review: A History of Bradford City AFC in Objects: The Definitive Record of Memorabilia from a Hundred Seasons of League Football, 1903-2014 by John Dewhirst

Imagine visiting an exhibition that told the story of your football club through a myriad of ephemera, memorabilia and club relics; room upon room of programmes, badges and medals, oozing with the history and tradition of the team you support.

Think about capturing all this in a book, so that you were able to pick it up at any time and look back upon the fantastic collection.

Too fanciful an idea?

Well, over 344 pages of beautifully glossy colour pages, John Dewhirst, a Bradford City supporter of more than forty years, has detailed the story of The Bantams from 1903 to 2014, through the presentation of over 1,050 objects.

Besides memorabilia from the 1911 FA Cup Final, the 1985 Valley Parade fire, the 1996 Play-Off Final, the Premier League years, the 2013 Capital Cup Final and the 2013 Play-Off Final, there are programmes and pennants, badges and books, magazines and music, ties and tickets, scarves and shirts, fanzines and fixture cards, handbooks and hats, covering the ‘highs and lows’ of the club.

However, to think that this book is simply a collection of images of Bradford City AFC (BCAFC) related objects would be wrong. The wonderful pictures are supported by over 67,000 words, which whilst exploring the detail behind many of the items, also seek to inform the reader.

For instance, there is a significant chapter on the history of the BCAFC supporter organisations who down the years have worked to ensure the club survived. There are also little nuggets, such as the short, but nonetheless pointed piece, about the fact that if you talking about the team from Valley Parade, they should always by referred to as City, whereas if you talk about Bradford, then that is the Park Avenue club.

This book though is also a very personal story in that the memorabilia is based extensively on the collection of the author and indeed Dewhirst is not afraid to express his opinion, whether that be about the club from Elland Road, his ‘soft spot’ for Workington or the future of collectables.

Dewhirst himself is also part of the BCAFC history as an editor of the fanzine, The City Gent and through his day job as an accountant.  In 2003 the author “experienced a collision of…personal and professional life” as he was, “formally engaged by BCAFC to assist with the preparation of a financial forecast”. This led later in 2004 to Dewhirst preparing a review for the Professional Footballers’ Association as to whether they should lend money to cover the players’ wages at BCAFC. As the author says, “it was the ultimate moral dilemma that caused much agonising.”

Does this book have a wider appeal than supporters of BCAFC? The answer has to be ‘yes’, in that the relationship with Bradford (Park Avenue) AFC is explored (and will be detailed further in the book Wool City Rivals by Dewhirst, available in late 2015), as well as touching on other sports in the city, such as rugby league and speedway. It should also have an appeal to fans of other clubs who have crossed swords with The Bantams down the years.

In addition, those who live in Bradford will be able to glean some measure of the social history of their city from the words and images of this book and it is an excellent study for anybody interested in sporting memorabilia.

With the world and indeed football now dominated by the internet in terms of the range and immediacy of information and images available, A History of Bradford City AFC in Objects will come to have even more significance in time and provide the reader with a lasting reminder of a different era through an incredible collection.

Quite simply – every club should have a book like this.


For further information about the history of BCAFC visit


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Posted November 30, 2014 by Editor in category "Reviews

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