Book Review – Wool City Rivals: A History in Colour by George Chilvers & John Dewhirst

Wool City Rivals: A History in Colour, is the seventh book from bantamspast, who as a publisher continue to create, “a collection of complementary books to provide a definitive history of Bradford soccer from the beginnings until the present day.” To date the six other titles are as follows:

Book 1: A History of Bradford City AFC in Objects by John Dewhirst (2014)

Book 2: Reinventing Bradford City: The Extraordinary Story of Bradford City’s Modern History, 1985-2016 by Jason McKeown (2016)

Book 3: Room at the Top – The Origins of Professional Football in Bradford and the Rivalry of Bradford FC and Manningham FC by John Dewhirst (2016)

Book 4: Life at the Top – The Rivalry of Manningham FC and Bradford FC and their Conversion from Rugby to Soccer by John Dewhirst (2016)

Book 5: Who We Are: Exploring the DNA of Bradford City AFC by Jason McKeown (2018)

Book 6: Late to the Game: The origins of association football in Bradford and the story of its pioneering clubs by Rob Grillo (2019)

This latest addition to the collection, Wool City Rivals: A History in Colour, is a collaboration between the driving force of bantamspast, John Dewhirst and George Chilvers, one of the leading colourisers of archive football photography.

The book is essentially made up of four chapters, which through over 170 colourised pictures chart the history of Bradford City and Bradford Park Avenue, with images stretching from as far back as 1895/96 through to 1972/73. It is a history that saw the two clubs play each other in each of the top four divisions of the English game, as well as highs such as Bradford City winning the FA Cup in 1910/11, through to the lows of Bradford Park Avenue dropping out of the Football League in 1969/70 after not being re-elected.

Besides the main four chapters, Chilvers provides a useful and interesting introduction in the book about colourisation and the process used on the old black and white images.  His meticulous work brings to life the pictures of ‘derby’ games past between the Bradford clubs, as well as so many other fixtures, team line-ups and crowd scenes, with Dewhirst providing his usual informative and well researched knowledge to the accompanying text.

Whilst the changing fortunes of the rivals is clearly the central premise of the book, the images also tell the story of so much more, in terms of social history through the period covered, as fashions changed, and the country emerged through the two World Wars.

Indeed, readers will want to revisit the book time and again as they notice different things in the background of the images, and marvel at a game from a very different era which like the Park Avenue ground is lost forever but is thankfully captured in this wonderfully atmospheric book.


(bantamspast. November 2020. Paperback 304 pages)


To purchase this book or get more information about bantamspast and their back catalogue click here

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Book Review: The Wessie – A History of the West Riding Senior Football Association Cup by Martin Jarred

The FA Cup is recognised as the oldest cup competition in the World with it first being played during 1871/72, when Wanderers beat the Royal Engineers 1-0 at the Oval in London. It predated the first Football League Championship in England by seventeen years, when Preston North End took the title.

The point of this brief timeline of English football? Well, simply that cup football came into being before the organisation of league football and perhaps was partly responsible for the special place the FA Cup competition once held within this country. Additionally, it is useful for understanding where the early power of the game was, with The FA coming into existence in 1863, and a number of County FA’s also being founded, for instance, the Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA (1867), Lancashire County FA (1878) and Cumberland FA (1884), before the Football League in 1888.

The West Yorkshire Association came into existence in 1896, due in part to the fact that this part of the country was dominated by the game of rugby. The fledgling organisation launched the West Yorkshire Cup in 1896/97 with Hunslet the winners in the four team competition, which included Bradford, Halifax, and Leeds.

The title of the book, The Wessie, takes its point of reference for the term for people living in the West Riding by those living in other parts of the Broad Acres of Yorkshire. What is immediately evident, is that this has been a real labour of love for its author, Martin Jarred, who came through Prostate Cancer to complete the book, from which half of the author’s royalties go towards Yorkshire Against Cancer in appreciation of the care and treatment he received.

In terms of contents, the book charts the history of the Senior Cup, which in its various guises was played for between 1896 until 1999, details of the County Cup from 2007 to 2019 (when the Senior Cup was presented to the County Cup winners) and a brief overview of key figures in the history of the West Riding County FA.

The amount of research that has gone into this book is staggering, with team-line ups, scorers, attendances, and venues, dating back to that first year of the cup back in 1896/97. It is a book that you will pick-up and put-down and learn something different every time. This includes the early influence of rugby with a number of the grounds used in the early years of the competition, such as Fartown (Huddersfield), Crown Flatt (Dewsbury) and Wheldon Road (Castleford), locations familiar to fans of the thirteen-a-side code. Other points of interest include seeing how players who became household names started off their careers in the Senior Cup such as John Charles, David Seaman, and many of the 60s and 70s renowned Leeds United teams.

The journey through the book is also a journey through the history and development of the game, with clubs going out of existence, in Leeds City and the original Bradford Park Avenue, and the introduction of innovations such as floodlights and substitutes.

However, the most significant factor is that this book is a record of a competition that is unlikely ever to be revived. If the FA Cup is treated with such distain these days, what chances do the County competitions have? The Wessie details how the Senior Cup in West Riding slowly but surely became nothing more than a nuisance in the football calendar, with the senior teams increasingly using it as a chance to blood youngsters or indeed decline to take part altogether and as a result crowds simply did not turn out to see what became games between teams of reserves. The wonderful Fratelli made trophy though at least does still live on, now presented to the County Cup winners, but the irony being that even some of those clubs taking part in recent years (from the National League, Northern Premier League, Northern Counties East League and North West Counties League), use the competition to play their reserves or Academy players and so means that there is little interest from spectators and certainly no financial reward. Will history repeat itself and see another competition consigned to the pages of history?

(Tony Brown. December 2019). Paperback 132pp)


Book Review: Reinventing Bradford City by Jason McKeown

Reinventing Bradford City is the second part of a four volume series under the banner of History Revisited from Bantamspast. The first book was the well received, A History of Bradford City AFC in Objects, by John Dewhirst published in 2014.

This second offering written by Jason McKeown is described as, “the story of how Bradford City emerged from the dark shadows of May 11, 1985 (the date of the Bradford City Fire), and how they have evolved in these modern times. How they have continued to re-invent themselves, in both good ways and bad.”

McKeown’s central device for doing this is to look at thirteen fixtures which span the 1986/87 season through to the 2015/16 campaign. The author’s point of reference for selecting the particular games is not always that they were fixtures that the Bantams excelled in, rather than they had a significance or relevance to the club at that point in time. So whilst you will find included the games in which City were promoted to the Premier League at Wolves and the FA Cup win at Chelsea where the Bantams came back from 2-0 to triumph 4-2, equally the reader will find the 1987/88 play-off loss to Ipswich Town.

What McKeown does well is ensure that the games featured aren’t isolated as in mere match report format, instead the context for them is provided and their overall significance at that moment in time, with if relevant, the link and impact to future events at Valley Parade. The author’s writing is supported by good research and plenty of material through interviews with players, managers (past and present), fans and the like, for their take on the events of the period between 1986 and 2016.

The book is a wonderful reflection of a thirty year period and the incredible highs and lows of this club from West Yorkshire. The spells in administration, the years spent in the basement division of the Football League, the Play-Off triumphs, the brief sojourn in the Premier League, the League Cup appearance at Wembley, the win at Chelsea in the FA Cup are all here – all dealt with in a pragmatic manner that typifies Bradford City AFC.

This is a story of a club that emerged from a disaster to write another incredible chapter in its history. However, as McKeown quite rightly points out, as he reflects on the last game featured in the book against Oldham Athletic at Valley Parade in January 2016, the thirty year period detailed in the book are merely a point in time. In essence, Bradford City had a history before 1986 and will have a history after 2016, with twists and turns and ups and downs aplenty.

To make the point, for that 2016 Oldham game, the Bantams were still managed by Phil Parkinson, with Mark Lawn and Julian Rhodes at the helm. By May 2016 the German pair of Edin Rahic and Stefan Rupp owned the club and a month later the Parkinson era was over as he moved to Bolton Wanderers. Stuart McCall returned once again to answer the call of his beloved Bradford City and so another chapter had begun.


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2015/16: Sky Bet League One – Chesterfield v Bradford City

004Having suffered five consecutive league defeats coming into this fixture, there was little Festive cheer at the Procat Stadium on a squally afternoon for the visit of Bradford City. The Bantams arrived in Derbyshire having lost their first league game in eleven outings, after a 2-1 defeat to Walsall.

The Spireites started the day in 17th place in League One with their opponents Bradford City eight points ahead in 10th place.

Before the action started there was a minute’s applause for former Chesterfield Chairman Barrie Hubbard who recently passed away.

Chesterfield kicked-off and within two minutes Sylvan Ebanks-Blake won a free-kick in a good position, but it was easily cleared by the City defence. James Hanson was prominent for Bradford in the opening minutes as was Tony McMahon who found himself clear on the right but mis-controlled the ball allowing it to go out of play.

The visitors were dominating early on with Hanson and Kyle Reid looking to get behind the Chesterfield back four in a direct manner, although this was not always successful as the wind was taking some of the passes straight through to Tommy Lee in the Chesterfield goal.

The home team’s first opportunity came on ten minutes. Jay O’Shea got down the left and his partly cleared cross fell to Ebanks-Blake, but his shot lacked power and was easily save by Ben Williams. This was the only brief opportunity for Chesterfield in an opening fifteen minutes that City dominated.

Reid earned City’s first corner on the quarter-hour mark, which Billy Clarke headed against the post and the resulting Gary Liddle shot was easily gathered by Lee. Minutes later Hanson was at full stretch for The Bantams, but he could only put his effort wide of the left post.

Chesterfield gradually started to work their way back into the game and after twenty three minutes Ebanks-Blake had a header on target for the home-side. However, The Bantams continued to press and Lee had to be alert to turn Reid’s effort away for a corner.

It was thirty minutes before Chesterfield had their first corner of the game. The effort was punched away but the resultant Dion Donohue effort to keep the attack alive was wayward.

As the last ten minutes of the half approached Lee needed attention after taking a goal kick, although it proved to be nothing serious.

Ebanks-Blake was continuing to work hard for Chesterfield as was O’Neil down the right, who also had an excellent drive which went not too far over the bar.

With the interval approaching, the visitors picked up the pace as Hanson had a shot deflected for a corner and minutes later Reece Burke had a header on target. However, Chesterfield almost snatched the lead before half-time in the minute of time added one, when from Talbot’s cross, Ebanks-Blake headed over.

Chesterfield made a change at the break with the injured Drew Talbot replaced by Ritchie Humphreys.

As with the opening half, Bradford started the better of the teams and four minutes in a teasing cross from Burke evaded the City forwards. The visitors then had a double chance to take the lead after fifty two minutes. First, Reid had a shot saved by Lee and from the corner the Chesterfield keeper was again in action to brilliantly save from Hanson’s header.

There was a brief scare on fifty four minutes as Chesterfield captain Ian Evatt went down with a head injury, but was thankfully soon up on his feet.

Just before the hour mark Gboly Ariyibi dragged an effort wide for Chesterfield and it was his last significant action as two minutes later he was replaced by Dan Gardner.

A minute later the first booking of the afternoon arrived as substitute Ritchie Humpheys was cautioned.

With sixty five minutes gone Ollie Banks had an effort deflected for a corner, but before it was taken there was a goal-mouth altercation which led to Ebanks-Banks and McArdle being booked. It was an incident that seemed to spark the crowd into action as the volume from both sets of fans increased.

Bradford were starting to warm to the task and on sixty nine minutes Hanson’s flicked header had Clarke through on goal, but his first touch was poor and the chance was gone. Clarke had a chance to redeem himself just minutes later when he bore down on goal, but his shot was deflected for a corner.

Then on seventy two minutes the breakthrough came, Clarke again caused problems for Chesterfield down the left and his cutback was swept in by McMahon for a deserved lead for The Bantams.

With fifteen minutes remaining, the home-side made their last change with O’Neil departing for Rai Simons. Five minutes later Bradford made a change with Clarke making way for Devante Cole.

The final ten minutes saw Bradford come under little real pressure from Chesterfield who looked bereft of any real idea as to where an equaliser might come from and could only produce a couple of long range efforts from Donohue and a header from Ebanks-Blake.

With four minutes of time added-on Reid gave way to James Meredith as The Bantams looked to wind-down the clock.

At the whistle the fifteen hundred plus City fans celebrated what was a deserved three points.

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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2014/15: Pre-season Friendly – Guiseley AFC v Bradford City

This was Guiseley’s second outing of the new season after a 2-0 victory over Albion Sports on Thursday. For Bradford City this was their opening friendly and it attracted plenty of Bantam’s fans in a bumper crowd of just under 1,800.

Guiseley have been busy in the summer with new drainage and playing surface and indeed it looked immaculate prior to kick-off. However, the pitch suffered during the game with a number of divots being created showing that the new turf has yet to bed in. It is hoped that the weather is kind to the ground staff in the coming weeks so that the pitch can settle.

Despite the disappointment of missing out on promotion to the Conference in the play-off final at the end of last season, there was a positive buzz around Nethermoor yesterday. Part of this is due to the fact that the club’s planning application for a new community building and general ground development are due to be submitted with a decision expected sometime in September.

On the pitch, it was what we have come to expect from friendlies with both sides looking at their squads including trialists. Bradford played two different teams in each half with Guiseley also making numerous changes during the second-half. The visitors won the game 3-0 with all the goals coming in the first half through, Lewis Clarkson (12 & 43 minutes) and Matthew Dolan (26 minutes). Steve Drench the Guiseley keeper was the sponsors ‘Man of the Match’ and it was well deserved on an afternoon when the League One team from Valley Parade dominated proceedings.

Guiseley can now look forward to next Saturday and another big crowd as Leeds United visit Nethermoor in an all-ticket fixture, whilst Bradford City jet off to Ireland to continue their pre-season.

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2013/14: Toolstation NCEL League Cup Final – Eccleshill United v Knaresborough Town

Last weekend saw the 2013/14 league programme in the Premier and First Division of the Toolstation Northern Counties East League (NCEL) completed. However, there was one last game before the curtain came down on the NCEL season, and that was the League Cup Final at Bradford City AFC.

The two finalists were Eccleshill United and Knaresborough Town, both from the NCEL First Division. Eccleshill’s route to the Final was as follows:

First Round v Cleethorpes Town (H) Won 2-1
Second Round v Albion Sports (A) Won 3-1
Third Round v Tadcaster Albion (H) Won 2-1
Fourth Round v Nostell Miners Welfare (A) Won 1-0
Semi-Final v Heanor Town (A) Won 4-3


Knaresborough Town reached the Final through the following games:

First Round v Rossington Main (A) Won 6-0
Second Round v Hemsworth Miners Welfare (A) Won 2-1
Third Round v Garforth Town (A) Won 2-0
Fourth Round v Bridlington Town (A) Won 1-0
Semi-Final v Long Eaton United (A) Won 1-0


In the league fixtures between the two teams, Knaresborough took four of the six points. The first meeting was in October at Eccleshill. After a goalless first-half, the game burst to life in the second period, with Colin Heath opening the scoring on fifty minutes for Borough. However, the lead lasted just two minutes as Marcus Edwards levelled for the home team. But it was the visitors who took the points with a second goal for Heath and one for Steve Bromley to seal a 3-1 win. In the return game this February at Knaresborough, it was honours even as the game finished 0-0. However, Eccleshill finished higher of the two teams in the NCEL First Division, ending the campaign in fourth, with Knaresborough in sixth.

Today was the second Cup Final of the season for Eccleshill, after they triumphed 1-0 against Harrogate Town in the West Riding County Cup (also at Bradford City) and so were hoping to secure a Cup-double. For Knaresborough, it was the opportunity to secure their first silverware since coming into the NCEL in the 2012/13 campaign.

* * * * * * * * *

Prior to kick-off there was an immaculately observed minutes silence for the Leeds teacher, Ann Maguire, who was killed at Corpus Christie College last week. It was a chance to reflect on the cruelty that life can sometimes inflict, and that when people talk of ‘tragedy’ or ‘disater’ in terms of the outcome of a football match, it should be remembered that it is ultimately only a game.

* * * * * * * * *

Cup Finals can be very tense games often settled by a single goal. Thankfully this was far from it and was a tremendous advert for the NCEL and non-league football in general.

From the outset it was a fast paced and open game, with Knaresborough shading the opening few minutes. Borough made this count on ten minutes, when Eccleshill United fullback Ish Mills was beaten by Blaine Hobson and from the subsequent cross, Colin Heath clinically finished to put his team 1-0 ahead. Eccleshill responded immediately and were only denied an equaliser by good saves by Weston Murau from Connor Shefte and Doug Stevenson. However, their pressure brought its reward on twenty five minutes. From a corner, there was a melee in the box which saw the ball end up in the net and Charlie Flaherty credited with the goal. Borough keeper Murau indicated to the referee that he thought he had been impeded, but his pleas were ignored by referee Jason Knowles and the game was level at 1-1. The Eagles now had their tails up and were soon ahead. From a free-kick, the ball was delivered to fullback Tyler Tarango at the far-post, who out jumped the cover to head the ball back across the goal, where Marcus Edwards headed home at the near-post just two yards out. Knaresborough though held their nerve and didn’t panic and got a foothold back in the game, as Eustance and Heath had chances, but on each occasion their efforts were dragged wide, without troubling Ryan Smith in the Eccleshill goal. The Eagles too continued to look for more goals, with Marcus Edwards a constant threat. However, there were no further score and it remained 2-1 to Eccleshill at the break.

Borough were quickest out the blocks in the second-half and were level at 2-2 on forty eight minutes. From a cross, Colin Heath stooped to head goal-wards and Smith was only able to push the effort against the post before the ball nestled into the Eccleshill net. Now Knaresborough had the initiative, but as the game moved towards the hour there was a ten minute spell when the game became scrappy and niggly, which required referee Knowles to brandish a number of yellow cards to take the heat out of the situation. On sixty five minutes Borough made their first substitution with fullback and assistant manager Paul Stanfield being replaced by Dave Thomas. With twenty minutes remaining the game settled again and as the second-half progressed, genuine chances were at a premium. Eccleshill made a change on seventy four minutes with midfielder Reid Harbach replacing Aaron Sanchez as The Eagles went in search of a winner. And they nearly got it, when in the closing minutes they were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box. Marcus Edwards curled it towards the top corner, but somehow Murau climbed to claw away the effort. With the game entering time added on and extra-time looming, Borough brought on ex-Brighton and Leeds United player Seb Carole for George Eustance.

With both teams now tiring, the extra thirty minutes unsurprisingly lost some of the bite and intensity of the first ninety minutes. Carole looked threatening as he ran at The Eagles defence, but was unable to create a genuine opportunity for his side. For Eccleshill, their one major chance was created by the ever willing Marcus Edwards. His run down the by-line, through a fatigued Knaresborough defence was only halted by a brave save at his feet by the outstanding Borough keeper Weston Murau. At the whistle and after 120 minutes, players from both sides sportingly shook hands and congratulated the match officials on what had been a draining, but enjoyable Cup Final. They knew though now it was down to the lottery that is penalties.

In front of an empty Kop, Borough took the first penalty and Seb Carole put them 1-0 ahead. Up first for Eccleshill was the dangerous Marcus Edwards, but his penalty was brilliantly saved by Murau as he dived to his right. Murau didn’t watch as his teammate Dave Thomas stepped up to take the next penalty, but the keeper must have heard the ball smack off the post and away as Eccleshill celebrated the miss. The Eagles tied the penalties at 1-1 as Ryan Jones scored from the spot. Jim Bradley took the score 2-1 to Borough and the pressure swung back again to Eccleshill. Charlie Flaherty had the job of levelling the scores, but his penalty was high and wide and The Eagles were now struggling. Substitute Danny Wright scored for Borough to make it 3-1, which meant that Connor Shefte had to net to keep Eccleshill in with a chance. Shefte slotted home to reduce the deficit to 3-2, but the players and fans of The Eagles knew that if Borough converted their next penalty then it was game-over. Byron Littlefair was handed the responsibility of the spot-kick and he drove it home to clinch the NCEL League Cup 4-2 for Knaresborough. With the game won, Man of the match Weston Murau was swamped by the players and rightly so, as the keeper had been outstanding.

There was to be no Cup-double for Eccleshill, but they had played their part in a stirring occasion and their efforts and those of winners Knaresborough were acknowledged by the appreciative crowd. 2013/14 has proved to be a good season for both sides. What will 2014/15 bring?


Eccleshill United: Ryan Smith, Ish Mills, Tyler Tarango, Jermaine Springer (captain), Ryan Jones, Tyson Newell, Aaron Sanchez (Reid Harbach 74), Doug Stevenson, Marcus Edwards, Connor Shefte, Charlie Flaherty. Subs unused: Brendan Roslund, Daniel Mann, Zack Le Casse.

Knaresborough Town: Weston Murau, Paul Stansfield (Dave Thomas 65), Nick Radcliffe, Matt Duerden (captain), Will Lenehan, Jim Bradley, George Eustance (Seb Carole 90), Dominic Wilson, Colin Heath (Danny Wright 80), Blaine Hobson, Byron Littlefair. Subs unused: Tom Osborne, Liam Gray.

Attendance: 390

West Riding County FA: County Cup Final 2012/13 – FC Halifax Town v Guiseley AFC

Coral Windows Stadium, Valley Parade: Bradford City AFC

Tuesday 14 May 2013


The first winners of the County Cup were Leeds United Reserves in 1927 and apart from 1932 and the period from 1934 to 1949, it has been played for every season since. Goole AFC have won the trophy on most occasions with 13 wins, the first of which came in 1951 when they were known as Goole Town. Their last Cup win was in 2007 at Woodlesford (West Riding County FA Headquarters), when they beat Guiseley 3-1 with goals from Andy Parton and a brace from Duncan Bray.

In order to raise the profile of the competition, the Final has since 2011 been played at the home of Bradford City AFC and Guiseley have found this to their liking, after beating Thackley 4-2 (AET) in 2011 and Bradford Park Avenue 1-0 last year, at the home of The Bantams.

In terms of the 2012/13 competition, the round-by-round results have been as follows:


First Round

Armthorpe Welfare                    (1) – (4)        Barnoldswick Town

Farsley AFC                                  (1) – (4)         Albion Sports

Garforth Town                             (3) – (5)        Liversedge

Goole AFC                                     (1) – (0)        Pontefract Collieries

Knaresborough Town                 (3) – (2)        Brighouse Town

Ossett Albion                                (2) – (0)        Selby Town

Sildsen                                        Walkover        Askern Villa

Thackley                                        (1) – (2)         Tadcaster Albion

Wakefield                                      (1) – (5)         Ossett Town

Yorkshire Amateurs                    (2) – (5)         Harrogate Railway Athletic


Byes: Bradford Park Avenue, Eccleshill United, FC Halifax Town, Glasshoughton Welfare, Guiseley AFC and Harrogate Town.


Second Round

Albion Sports                                (3) – (0)        Glasshoughton Welfare

Guiseley AFC                                 (4) – (1)        Bradford Park Avenue

Harrogate Railway Athletic        (4) – (3)        Barnoldswick Town

Liversedge                                      (0) – (7)        FC Halifax Town

Ossett Albion                                 (0) – (1)        Harrogate Town

Ossett Town                                   (3) – (2)        Goole AFC

Silsden                                             (0) – (3)        Knaresborough Town

Tadcaster Albion                           (2) – (1)        Eccleshill United  [AET]


Quarter – Final

Albion Sports                               (0) – (2)        FC Halifax Town

Harrogate Railway Athletic       (3) – (2)        Tadcaster Albion

Harrogate Town                           (0) – (5)        Guiseley AFC

Ossett Town                                  (2) – (1)        Knaresborough Town [AET]


Semi- Final

Guiseley AFC                                 (5) – (0)        Harrogate Railway Athletic

Ossett Town                                   (0) – (1)        FC Halifax Town


playoffThe results meant that Guiseley made it to their third successive Final against fellow Blue Square Bet North opponents FC Halifax Town. During the season the two sides had met on four occasions. The first two meetings were the League encounters with both fixtures ending 1-1. As Guiseley finished second in the table and FC Halifax Town finished fifth the clubs faced each other in the Play-off Semi-Final. In the 1st Leg game at The Shay in front of a 2,367 crowd, Town went ahead with a penalty from Dan Gardner, only for Danny Ellis to equalise in the second-half to bring about a third successive 1-1 outcome between the teams. Something had to give in the 2nd Leg and it did as Town took the game with second-half goals from Alex Johnson and Lee Gregory to seal a 3-2 aggregate win. The teams were as follows:

Guiseley AFC – (1) Steve Drench, (2) Aaron Hardy, (3) Rhys Meynell, (4) Andy Pearson, (5) Danny Ellis, (6) Matt Wilson, (7) Jack Rea, (8) Andy Holdsworth, (9) Josh Wilson, (10) James Walshaw, (11) Gavin Rothery. Subs: (12) Mark Bower, (14) Jake Lawlor, (15) Seb Carole, (16) Phil Marsh, (18) Jacob Giles.

FC Halifax Town – (1) Matt Glennon, (2) Ryan Toulson, (4) Scott McManus, (4) Liam Hogan, (5) Matt Pearson, (6) Danny Lowe, (7) Liam Needham, (8) Sean Williams, (9) Alex Johnson, (10) Dan Gardner, (11) Lee Gregory Subs: (12) Phil Senior, (14) Jon Worthington, (15) Gareth Seddon, (16) James Bolton, (19) Adriano Moke.

Whilst there was huge disappointment for Guiseley, The Shaymen went on to seal promotion to the Blue Square Bet Conference Premier Division with a 1-0 win over Brackley Town. Now both sides had one last fixture at Bradford; for Halifax the chance to end the season with a ‘double’ celebration, whilst for Guiseley the opportunity to gain a consolation in terms of a third consecutive County Cup win.

For the Final the crowd was only admitted to the lower tier of the Co-operative Stand, so for the spectators it was an eerie scene looking out on the rest of the ground where the claret and amber seats were empty.  It was also hard to imagine that this was the same stadium where 28 years ago so many were tragically killed and injured in the Bradford fire, as all the old terraces and stands have since gone and been redeveloped. There is a feeling of lop-sidedness about the place now, as the main stand and Kop dwarf the Midland Road and TL Dallas stands, which was accentuated by the fact that these areas were empty for this game. Given that the season was at an end and the volume of games played on it, the pitch was in pretty good condition and certainly did not have any significant areas which were devoid of grass.

In the previous two Finals to be held at Valley Parade, the attendance had topped the 1,000 mark, but was on this occasion lower at 766. This may have been down to it coming just two days after Halifax gained promotion at Brackley and that it was a pretty chilly and damp evening. However, also part of the equation unfortunately, will be the fact that fans don’t see it as a priority and at the end of a long season, despite adult entry being only £7, people couldn’t be lured out. The reality is that all Cup competitions now suffer lower crowds which have hit the (Carling) League Cup and the FA Cup in recent years.

Whilst the fans may not have seen the Final as a being significant, it was a credit to both FC Halifax and Guiseley that they put out strong line-ups. Of the 32 players named in the Final, 22 (11 from each side) appeared in the 2nd Leg Play-off game at Guiseley. For the Final the teams were as follows:

FC Halifax Town: (1) Phil Senior, (2) James Bolton, (3) Jason St. Juste, (4) Ryan Toulson, (5) Matt Pearson, (6) Danny Lowe, (7) Adriano Moke, (8) Sean Williams, (9) Danny Glover, (10) Jon Worthington, (11) Gareth Seddon. Subs: (12) Matt Glennon, (14) Osebi Abadaki, (15) George Wysocki, (16) Josh Messer, (17) Alex Johnson

Guiseley AFC: (1) Steve Drench, (2) Andy Holdsworth, (3) Andy McWilliams, (4) Jack Rea, (5) Matt Wilson, (6) Mark Bower, (7) Seb Carole, (8) Gavin Rothery, (9) Josh Wilson, (10) James Walshaw, (11) Phil Marsh. Subs: (12) Wayne Brooksby, (14) Macaulay Parkinson, (15) Zack Dale, (16) Jacob Giles, (17) Luke Porritt.

004While the team lined up to be presented to the guest of honour, the Town fans made themselves heard with a chorus of “…Stand-up if you’re going up…”, just to make sure their opponents hadn’t forgotten the events of the last few days. Guiseley kicked off and had the better of the opening couple of minutes in terms of possession. However, it was Halifax who had the first attempt on goal of the game, when Gareth Seddon had a volley comfortably saved by Steve Drench. Encouraged by this Town started to dominate proceedings, with Glover prominent down the middle for The Shaymen and Moke getting wide. With nine minutes gone Halifax won the first corner of the game after a Seddon shot was deflected away. From the corner and play that switched across field, Seddon blazed the resulting effort over the bar. Halifax were growing in confidence and on twelve minutes, Adriano Moke collected the ball out wide on the left, cut in and curled his effort onto the bar. Guiseley struggled to get any foot-hold in the opening fifteen minutes, with their attacks limited to long balls forward which were often over-hit. However, on seventeen minutes The Lions at last fashioned a decent chance, as a shot from Seb Carole was parried but gathered at the second attempt by Town keeper Senior. This seemed to settle Guiseley as they had their best spell since the opening minutes of the game. However, Halifax stormed back and on nineteen minutes an excellent position from a free-kick was spurned by the taker Williams. Just three minutes later an ever better chance went begging when Seddon miskicked when well placed in the six-yard box. When Guiseley did get possession, they were unable to capitalise as they continued to give it away too easily. However, on the half-hour mark, The Lions had a shout for a penalty, as a shot from Josh Wilson struck Town defender Bolton who was on the ground; the referee rightly turned down the appeal. Halifax upped the tempo as in the space of five minutes they worked the flanks well to create good crossing opportunities, the first of which was well intercepted by Steve Drench and the other too long for the intended target Seddon. With ten minutes to go Guiseley created their best chance of the first-half as good work by Marsh released Walshaw who wastefully lashed the chance over the bar. It was certainly not a case of the half petering out quietly, as with thirty eight minutes on the clock, Town’s Seddon provided a knockdown for Moke which was drilled wide and then was quickly followed by a free-kick opportunity which was unfortunately wasted by St. Juste. Then with a minute to the break, Seddon disposed Guiseley keeper Drench, rounded him but saw his effort rebound back of the post, with nobody able to apply a finishing touch. It was by far the best chance of the half; in a forty five minutes which Halifax had created the better openings.

005Guiseley made a substitution at the start of the second-half with Phil Marsh replaced by Wayne Brooksby. Halifax kicked off and were immediately on the attack through Gareth Seddon, but his cross came to nothing. This was typical of the play in the opening five minutes as neither team settled into any sort of rhythm. However, on fifty one minutes the first corner of the second period was won by Guiseley; Gavin Rothery took it but the opportunity was wasted as it cleared the box and went straight out. Town responded immediately as after good work by Jason St. Juste out wide, Seddon had a shot on goal which was deflected for a corner. Moke took the kick, but the header from Bolton was off target. It was a good little spell for Halifax as they played on the break and created shooting opportunities for Sean Williams and Adriano Moke. As the game started to open-up, Guiseley countered with a period of pressure themselves, as James Walshaw had a shot from inside the box deflected for a corner. However, as with earlier in the half, a poor delivery meant the chance was wasted. With the game approaching the hour mark, The Lions kept up the pressure with an effort from Gavin Rothery, but it was straight at the keeper and easily gathered. Back came Town with two chances in a minute, but the efforts from Worthington and Seddon were comfortably dealt with by Drench in the Guiseley goal. On sixty six minutes, The Shaymen made their first substitution of the night as Danny Glover was replaced by Alex Johnson. Town continued to press and Moke created a shooting chance for St. Juste, but the effort drifted wide. On seventy minutes Town were forced into a second change, as the injured Worthington was replaced by Josh Messer and Guiseley also made a change with James Walshaw taken off (much to the delight of the Halifax faithful), with Zack Dale coming on. The substitutions and the persistent rain seemed to have a dampening effect on the game, with the play decidedly disjointed and even the hard-core fans of both sides reduced to barely a murmur. The gloom was broken by jeers from the Town fans when on seventy four minutes a free-kick taken by Guiseley’s Rothery saw the player slip over and end up on his backside. A couple of minutes later Halifax had an excellent chance to take the lead when substitute Messer found himself one-on-one with Guiseley keeper Drench, but the shot lacked strength and was easily gathered. Indeed as the game entered the last ten minutes it was The Shaymen who looked more likely to grab a winner with Moke a constant threat and shooting chances for Seddon, Williams and St. Juste. Guiseley struggled to get any possession in the closing period, but had a chance two minutes from time with a free-kick in a good position. However, the effort from Josh Wilson was high and wide and extra-time loomed ever closer. As the game went into the final minute of normal time, Town’s Moke provided another shooting chance for Sean Williams, but the effort was blocked. With the ninety minutes up, there were two minutes of time added-on for the teams to break the deadlock and once again Moke created the opportunity for The Shaymen after good work by him resulted in a corner. Jason St. Juste took the kick, but substitute Alex Johnson could only glance the header wide and so it was extra-time.

With the rain continuing to fall, Halifax started the first period the better of the teams, getting forward and maintaining possession. Five minutes in, Town appealed for a penalty when Matt Pearson went down after a challenge by Jack Rea, but the referee quickly turned it down. A couple of minutes later Guiseley had their first chance in extra-time, however, Josh Wilson pulled his shot wide. That was a rare moment of pressure from The Lions as Halifax continued to hold the upper hand and with the game entering the hundredth minute, the dangerous Moke got wide and crossed invitingly into the box. Despite having space, Alex Johnson could only head wide. Guiseley then made their last substitution with Jack Rea making way for Macaulay Parkinson. The rain was making conditions difficult and both sides hit a scrappy spell. Just when it looked like the game was going to remain goal-less at the end of the first period of extra-time, The Shaymen struck. Alex Johnson played a through ball to Gareth Seddon who collected it and from just inside the box, beautifully curled his shot into the top corner; a moment of quality which gave Halifax a 1-0 lead.

In the second period, with Guiseley in need of an equaliser, Seb Carole prompted The Lions search, but the Halifax defence held firm. However, for all their pressure and domination of the opening ten minutes of the half, Guiseley couldn’t turn their possession into actual chances. As the clock showed there were just five minutes to go, Halifax dug deep into their reserves and mounted some pressure of their own. First Alex Johnson was released on goal, but was flagged off-side and a couple of minutes later, Seddon had a long-range effort charged down. The Lions weren’t done though and with three minutes to go, Halifax just about cleared a corner from Guiseley. The final minutes proved to be nervous for Town as Guiseley continued to press with even keeper Steve Drench going forward. However, it was not to be for the team from Nethermoor and at the whistle it was Halifax who celebrated.

For Town it was the second occasion they have lifted the West Riding FA County Cup, whilst for Guiseley there was no third successive win. Both sides now look forward to the summer break. When the 2013/14 season kicks-off, The Shaymen will be just one promotion away from a return to the Football League. For The Lions, they will look to regroup and see if they can make it out of the Conference North after the Play-off defeats of the last two seasons. But for now, goodbye to the 2012/13 season…

Book Review: Four Minutes to Hell: The Story of the Bradford City Fire by Paul Firth

Saturday 11 May 1985 should have been a day of celebration at Valley Parade as Bradford City paraded the trophy after winning the 1984/85 Third Division title. Instead it became an occasion of horror, devastation and sadness. Towards the end of the first-half in the game against Lincoln City, a small flame was seen underneath an area of seats, but which in minutes turned the whole stand into an inferno. 56 people lost their lives and hundreds more were injured.

Four Minutes to Hell by Paul Firth was written 20 years after the tragedy. Some might question the morality of writing about such an event and it is something that the author did consider and shares his reasoning for publishing the story within the early part of the book. Firth understood that his work could “…perpetuate publicly the memory of the terrible disaster they (the citizens of Bradford) had suffered…” However, the author felt compelled to tell the story, encouraged by those that he spoke to in gathering his research. Firth explains that he decided to go ahead with his project  so that “…those who don’t know what happened will take a little time to find out more and perhaps understand why some of us still want to have that day remembered with dignity for a long time yet…”

The title of the book refers to the estimated time from the first flame to the entire stand being on fire – just four minutes. Hell? Well on two counts really. Firstly, anyone seeing the pictures of the blaze will relate to the biblical reference to the fires of hell and secondly what people suffered at the time and perhaps what some survivors still endure as a consequence of the events that day. The cover of the book is simply laid out featuring the Bradford City colours of Claret and Amber and has a picture which shows the fire having engulfed Block G of the stand and it spreading towards the Bradford End, with some spectators on the pitch as the players look to leave the playing area. In terms of content it is set out in seventeen chapters, with a foreword by Terry Yorath and a postscript, totalling 191 pages and 16 pages of pictures.  Whilst this book features events on that fateful day as seen through the eyes of fans, players, officials and the various emergency services, it also provides details of the aftermath and the changes at Valley Parade and in football that followed the tragedy in 1985.

Paul Firth in the early chapters sets the scene and context in looking at other football disasters, such as Burnden Park (1946), Ibrox (1971) and Hillsborough (1989) and reminds the reader that football and its grounds were a very different event to that which people attend today. The author also provides a detailed description of the lay-out and condition of the main stand in Bradford in 1985, which is useful when Firth recounts the stories of other people on the day of the fire. The majority of the chapters then follow various people and their recollections of that dreadful day, whether they were fans, players, police, media or hospital staff. Chapter fifteen focuses on Mr Justice Popplewell who was to lead the inquiry into the Bradford fire. The second and final Popplewell Report was issued early in 1986 and concluded that the fire started due to “…the accidental lighting of debris below the floorboards in rows I or J…” and recommended that future stands be constructed of non-combustible material and also banned smoking in stands made of combustible materials. Chapter sixteen focuses on how Valley Parade had changed in the twenty years since the fire and looks at the ways in which present day games are organised in terms of policing, stewarding and the legislation and bodies which govern spectator and stadium safety. The final Chapter is Paul Firth’s own story of that day in May 1985 and does bring together a number of strands recounted in earlier chapters.

Four Minutes to Hell is eloquently written which whilst dealing with very personal and sometimes tragic individual stories, never feels voyeuristic in any way. It has an authoritative tone, which is always respectful, but does contain some gentle wit and humour. It is a story which should not be just confined to the readership of football fans; it is about human existence; life and death, loss, grief and guilt, good-luck, fate and the survival instinct, memory and respect. A fitting tribute to all whose life changed on that fateful day in May 1985.

To buy this book, click below:

Four Minutes to Hell: The Story of the Bradford City Fire

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Book Review: Bradford City AFC – A Season Re-visited 1969/70 by Raymond C. Maule

The first thing to say about this book relates to the cover, where the phrase “…less is more…” rings true. The classically all white cover is interrupted only by claret and amber bands (depicting the Bradford City colours), details of the books title and a team picture from the 1969/70 season. On the reverse, a brief synopsis of the publication sits below two programme covers from the season and a view of the Valley Parade ground. The final detail relates to the fact that proceeds from the book are in Aid of the Bradford Cardiac Unit.

Once inside the book, the author explains in the “Dedication” and “Acknowledgement” the reason for this publication and how it came to fruition. “…The seed of an idea for this book was planted while recovering on a cardiac ward in a Bradford hospital. I decided that I wanted to say thank you in a more tangible form, to those who nursed me through a difficult time, and hopefully give something back in return…”

In the “Introduction” the reader is given a brief review of the 1969/70 season in terms of the White Rose County and its clubs and some snippets of what was happening in England at the time. The listing of the television viewing schedule from Christmas Day 1969 makes very interesting reading indeed!

So to the main body of the book, which is a diary based format of the 1969/70 season. The source of the information is match reports from the Yorkshire Post and the local papers of the Bantams opposition. The focus is on the City first team, although there are brief details about the reserves and other games that have a West Yorkshire interest. In addition to the match reports there are “Notes from the day” which include a round-up of the other fixtures in Division Three on that day and or more details and observations about the game Bradford were involved in. The reader will notice that the journalistic style is somewhat different to that of the sound-bite manner of today. The one-word headline to introduce a new paragraph is a format that has long since disappeared from sports reporting. For much of the season the Bantams were in and around the promotion spots, but no wins from their final eight games, left Bradford in tenth place. In the League Cup and FA Cup, City had decent runs, including a win at Roker Park against Sunderland, who just four years later won the FA Cup. The book closes with a “Who’s who of Bradford City’s personnel 1969/70” providing a useful summary of some of the key personalities from that season.

From a personal perspective I would have liked to have seen more match action pictures or programme covers to supplement the text. However, the lack of photographs from the respective fixtures may be down to the fact (as the author explains), “…many newspapers have disposed of their photographic archives and rely on scans taken from hard copy…”

It is a book that can be picked and put down and acts as a point of reference. It was interesting for instance to see three managers detailed in their playing days, those being Ian Branfoot (for Doncaster Rovers), Graham Taylor (for Lincoln City) and Neil Warnock (for Rotherham United). There are also various other gems in this book and a couple of my favourites are as follows:

Friday 23 January 1970

Mr John Parker, Labour MP, for Dagenham began an attempt at modifying the “Sunday Observance Laws” and so legalise the charging of admission prices at fixtures played on Sunday’s. It was an idea being closely watched by sporting bodies throughout the country, especially football being the biggest money-spinning sport.

The idea is said to have government approval and if all goes well by this time next year Football League clubs may well be playing League and Cup fixtures on a regular basis on Sundays.

In fact it was another four years before football was played on a Sunday, when on January 6th 1974 four FA Cup Third Round fixtures were played, the first being Cambridge United v Oldham Athletic which kicked off in the morning.

Later in April 1970 the following is an extract from the match report for the Walsall v Bradford City fixture:

Bradford goalkeeper, John Roberts was struck in the back by a full large-sized tin of soup (tomato flavour!) thrown from behind his goal just after the restart.

Whilst it may seem comical to read, it should be remembered that hooliganism was very much on the rise during this period and that there are a number of reports in the book which highlight trouble on the terraces and from fans travelling to and from games.

As a book I believe that it will appeal to City fans old and new, fans of other clubs who played against Bradford that season and indeed anyone who wants an insight into that period in English football. Share in Bradford City’s up and down return to Division Three, the glory of the Cup runs and revisit football and an England as the swinging sixties gave way to the seventies.


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