Bradford City
Valley Parade

Ground No. 109
Visited - Saturday 25th November 2006
Result - Bradford City 0-0 AFC Bournemouth
Competition - Coca Cola League 1
Attendance - 10,347

Originally I had been planning to go to Stratford, but when Bradford announced that they were dropping ticket prices to just £5 for their match against Bournemouth, then I didn’t need much more invitation to convince me to head northwards instead!

Valley Parade was a ground that I had been looking forward to visiting for quite a while, so I set off in a good mood, leaving Wolverhampton just after 7am. The journey up there went well, changing trains at Birmingham and Leeds, before arriving into Bradford just before 11am.

After leaving the station, I went straight up to the ground to see if I could get in early as usual, but once there, there was no such luck, so I settled for taking pictures of the outside.

Set into a hillside, the ground is in a dramatic setting, with the Midland Road and TL Dallas Stands almost perched up on supports, with a daunting number of steps up to the side! The Sunwin Stand is almost the opposite, with the hillside running down into its rear. This is where the memorial to the victims of the 1985 fire is located, whilst there is also a sculpture the other side of the Main Entrance. The only side that doesn’t seem affected by the hillside setting is the Kop, which is huge from the outside, towering above the neighbouring houses.  

After having a good look round, I bought a ticket and then paid a visit to the club shop, where the museum was also located. I’d actually forgotten all about the museum being here, so with it being free entry, I decided to venture in to take a look. Whilst not being on a par in terms of size to say the museum at Preston, it was still an excellent addition to the ground, and was split up into two sections. Firstly (and predominantly), was the part charting the clubs history, which gave a walk through decade by decade, including a refreshingly honest account of the 1985 disaster, which didn’t look to shy away from any of the blame that the club was responsible for. The second part was a feature on the grounds in the city, including Odsal, Park Avenue, City Stadium, Lytchett Park and of course Valley Parade itself. Featuring numerous displays and items from throughout the clubs history (and two models of Valley Parade), I was glad that I’d noticed it, as it was a good to spend the best part of an hour walking around, and certainly something visitors to the ground should try to look out for.

After leaving there, I went back into the town for a while, before making the short walk back in time for the turnstiles to open. I’d chosen to sit in the Midland Road Stand, and as mentioned earlier, the setting of the stand was interesting, when after climbing numerous flights of stairs, I came out from the concourse at pitch level!     

From the inside, the ground itself looked superb. The Midland Road Stand was a fair sized single tier, all-seater, whilst opposite stood the Sunwin Stand, which had a large lower tier, running for most of the length of the pitch, whilst its equally as large upper tier ran for about two-thirds of that due to a road behind. That stand wrapped around the corner into the Kop, which was a huge two-tiered stand, slightly dipping at the right hand side of the upper tier. To our left was the TL Dallas Stand, which was the smallest at the ground, and had two tiers overhanging each other. Normally, this is where the away fans are housed, but it was closed for today, with the travelling Bournemouth supporters situated to our left in the Midland Road (or East) Stand.

After taking a few pics, the game soon got started and it didn’t take long for a moment of controversy to strike. Chasing down a ball into the far corner of the pitch, Bradford striker Dean Windass made no effort to go for it, and instead lunged two footed at Cherries defender Neil Young. There was no question of the ref showing red, and the home side were reduced to 10 men for the remaining 77 minutes. Despite this set back, they didn’t simply try to defend, and although a lack of quality was clearly showing, the game was end to end, and either side could have taken the lead, with both goalkeepers coming under periods of pressure. With no score at the break, the second half started with Bradford visibly tiring, and the visitors able to take a grip on the game. Bradford goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts was forced to pull off a number of great saves, and it was his form that kept the hosts in the game, so when the final whistle went with the scores still at 0-0, then there was a sigh of relief from the home end.

Whilst as a neutral, I had fairly enjoyed the game, the lack of quality from all but a couple of players had frustrated both sets of fans, and so at the end, despite being slightly fortuitous to hang on for a point with 10 men, there were a number of home supporters calling for the managers head.

After leaving the ground, I eventually went back to the station and caught a train home, with the journey going fairly well.

Overall, I had quite enjoyed the day. The ground was fantastic and deserving of football of a higher level, and the museum really complemented it quite well, adding a bonus to the day, which had already had a considerable one in terms of the reduced prices! With that in mind, it’s one that I’ll happily return to in the future.

Rear of the Sunwin Stand

Main Entrance to the Sunwin Stand

Valley Parade Fire Memorial

Valley Parade Fire Memorial Plaque

The Club Shop and Museum

Rear of the Kop

Rear of the Midland Road Stand

Rear of the TL Dallas Stand

Rear of the TL Dallas Stand

Valley Parade from Midland Road

The Midland Road Stand

The TL Dallas Stand

The Sunwin Stand

The Kop

The Kop

The Sunwin Stand

The TL Dallas Stand

The Sunwin Stand

The Kop

Valley Parade Panoramic 1

Valley Parade Panoramic 2


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