Offers hope to the lower leagues
25 January ~ Miracles do happen. Not that any Bradford City fans harboured such thoughts on August 11, in a League Cup first round away tie at Notts County. However, in dispatching three Premier League opponents in a row to reach the final, they have given hope to every club outside of the "best league in the world" – underdogs can sometimes do the seemingly impossible. These have not been flukes, with the Bantams good value for their victories in each case. It's been a triumph of spirit and organisation over complacency and lack of togetherness.
Plus in most of the recent games against Wigan, Arsenal and Aston Villa, Bradford didn't have their full-strength side available. But a summer spent finding players with the right character has rightfully thrust manager Phil Parkinson back into the national spotlight – he was once hailed as a bright young managerial prospect after leading Colchester to the Championship, though that was followed by indifferent spells at Hull and Charlton. Blackpool recently made enquiries about his availability and sensibly he turned them down. Hopefully his future at Bradford will be assured as his contract, like the rest of his excellent staff, only runs to June.
Getting out of League Two this season was always the aim, so Bradford fans hope that once things settle down after the Wembley final the club will be able to push for promotion at the end of what will have been a long campaign. The semi-final second leg at Villa Park was Bradford's 41st game of the season and with at least 20 more still to play it will take all of Parkinson's skill to steer the club through to the end. The reported £2 million that the club look like gaining from the cup run has already started to help, with the signing of former Hartlepool and Norwich central defender Michael Nelson from Kilmarnock last week for a reported £50,000. Not since James Hanson was lured away from non-League Guiseley, and the local Co-op, for £7,500 plus a friendly game has the club been able to buy a player.
The income gained should ensure that the Bantams can finally start to look at climbing back up the leagues once again. Perhaps they can even emulate their opponents in the final, Swansea City, who were in the fourth tier back when Bradford were in the Premier League. February 24 is going to be an amazing day for both clubs and the enormity of what my club, the one I have supported all my life, has achieved might not hit me until I'm inside the national stadium seeing Phil Parkinson lead out his team. Mike Harrison, City Gent