Following the success of Bradford City in making the Capital One Cup Final in February they turned their attention back to promotion. It looked short lived; the cup run had left them mid table and a disastrous 4-1 defeat away at Exeter in mid March meant it looked like League 2 once again – no more promotion dreams – but this is the Bradford City that never gives up.
So in a season where the players had already shown incredible team spirit and determination to defy the odds they went on a run of games with the kind of form that would have seen them top the table. Barely a month later, they defeated Burton Albion at home grabbing the 7th and final play off place with a game to spare.
A two leg semi final against the very same, 4th place, Burton stood in the way of another Wembley Final, it was made all the more difficult by losing the home tie 3-2 but that “never say die” spirit won over again with a 3-1 victory away from home and Wembley once again beckoned.
The scramble for Wembley tickets began again around the office but for two of TL Dallas Group’s Directors, John Butterworth & I, it was going to be a very different day. Many months ago, before the Sky schedules and the Champion’s League Final conspired to move some of the play off finals from their traditional Bank Holiday Weekend we had agreed to accept an invitation to the Amlin & Heineken Rugby Finals in Dublin, it now clashed.
Could we fly back in time and get back to Dublin? – No, but we had a good look to see if it was possible!
As the day approached, our families and colleagues were very excited getting ready for their second Wembley trip of the season, our task was to find a TV in Dublin and get them to swap channels to show Bradford City v Northampton – not an attractive fixture to most people.
The day arrived and the messages and photos were sent to us from Wembley, still no TV sorted for the match. Eventually we settled on the large hotel we were staying in and our powers of persuasion. England Test cricket was on in the bar, lots of Home Counties rugby types watching it. The head barman needed to buy into our play off final dream, he did and despite a few moans and groans the game was on.
We were rewarded, 3 first half goals in quick succession. Other football fans gathered and started to cheer Bradford on (even Arsenal & Aston Villa fans were cheering us on); we were on our way to League One. As half time approached we realised that our hosts were expecting us and had to leave the game, live commentary was streamed to our phones – isn’t technology wonderful – the second half wasn’t as eventful but the prospect of victory was huge.
We did it, no more goals but just as our defeat to Swansea in the Capital One Cup this was a one sided affair, this time Bradford City had dominated from start to finish – We were going up!! The disappointment of the Swansea game was put aside, it had been a history making season and the management and players had once again shown that they wore the City shirt with pride.
Our families and colleagues joined the party at Wembley; we raised a glass, probably more than one, in Dublin…
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L–R: John Butterworth – Group MD, Famous Egg Chaser, Mike Martin – Group Director
At the Aviva Stadium in Dublin it was the pre match meal; a very puzzled, very large and famous egg chaser (Lorenzo Bruno Nero “Lawrence” Dallaglio for those who don’t recognise him) came to see what all the excitement was about, he joined in the celebrations and here is the photo to prove it (City scarf & all).
Mike Martin – Group Director