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Club News

🔎 The Opposition: Bradford City (H)

Jed Penberthy profiles Saturday's opponents

5 August 2021

Club News

🔎 The Opposition: Bradford City (H)

Jed Penberthy profiles Saturday's opponents

5 August 2021

It’s here. Football returns to St James Park on Saturday, with Exeter City back in front of you faithful fans.

Bradford City are our first visitors of the 2021/22 League Two campaign.

  • Founded: 1903
  • Nicknames: The Bantams
  • Honours: FA Cup (1911), Division 2 (1907/08), Division 3 (1928/29, 1984/85)
  • Home Kit: AVEC SPORT White shirts with Claret and Amber V-Neck, Claret shorts and white socks
  • Away Kit: AVEC SPORT Claret and Amber halved shirt, black shorts and black socks
  • Last Season: 15th:  P 46 | W 16 | D 11 | L 19 | GD -5 | Pts 59

This season, Bradford will play with their Kits reversed as their white home shirt reflects on the 40th anniversary of their memorable promotion to the third tier. 

The West Yorkshire side grew out of their ‘small phase’ rather swiftly. Bradford were inducted into the Football League immediately upon formation having never played a single professional game of football before. Trivia only shared with current European Champions Chelsea. 

With a Division 2 title already claimed in their infancy, Bradford won the FA Cup for the first and only time in 1911- with a 1-0 replay win over Newcastle United at Old Trafford. 

The sixth-largest city in England, Bradford rapidly became the ‘Wool capital of the World’ during the industrial revolution. The city made use of its location in the foothills of the Pennines, to extract coal and iron to run its textile industry.

After the industry collapsed in the mid-20th Century, Bradford rebranded itself culturally. The city was the first UNESCO City of Film in 2009 and is also home to some stupendously brilliant curry houses.

On the pitch the football club still had history to write. In 1998/99 Bradford finished second in Division One to gain promotion to the Premier League under the watchful eye of Paul Jewell. A year later they qualified for the Intertoto Cup, losing to Zenit St Petersburg in the Semi-finals.

In 2001 the Bantams were relegated and started a slow decline down the Football League. In 2013, Bradford became the first fourth tier side in 51 years to reach the League Cup final, but they were soundly beaten by Swansea City at Wembley.

Last season the Claret and Ambers finished well below expectations in a measly 15th. Work was required and although Mark Trueman and Conor Sellars steadied the ship, a new direction was needed on the pitch.

The Manager

Derek Adams

Derek Adams, 46, hardly needs an introduction to City Fans. The boss of our fiercest adversary for four years joined Bradford City over the summer, just weeks after guiding Morecambe to League One via the Play-offs. 

Derek Adams.jpg

Adams spent his most of his 17-year playing career in Scotland, only switching to Burnley for two games in 1996. His longest stay was at Motherwell between 1998-2004 where he featured over 150 times for The Steelmen.

His first managerial job in England began down the A38 in 2015, before making the switch to Morecambe. Last season was arguably his most impressive, guiding the Shrimps to play-off destiny- with a 1-0 extra time victory over Newport County. 

He has an impressive record as a manager, with a 42%-win rate in over 500 games on the touchline. 

The Stadium

  • Name: Utilita Energy Stadium
  • Capacity: 25,136
  • Year opened: 1886
  • Address: Valley Parade, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD8 7DY

The original home of Manningham Rugby Club, Valley Parade was opened nearly twenty years before Bradford City’s formation. Sitting just outside the City Centre, the now sponsored Utilita Energy Stadium is seen as one of the iconic British football grounds.

Bradford Stadiun.jpg

The first association football game to be played at Valley Parade in 1903 was a friendly against Sheffield United’s FA Cup winning side. The match was organised to boost interest in football after the loss of its Rugby club. This worked, as 11,000 spectators watched Bradford’s first league game against Gainsborough a few months later.

In 1911, the ground hosted 39,146 fans for an FA Cup tie against Burnley during the clubs winning run, which to date makes it the longest standing attendance record in the Football League, dating back nearly 90 years.

On May 11, 1985, Valley Parade was home to one of the worst ever disasters at a football ground. 56 people died and at least 265 others were hurt when the main stand caught fire. This led to mass safety changes in football grounds. Two stands were rebuilt much bigger and much better, now a double-tiered marvel of architecture, which serve as a poignant memorial to those lost that day.

One To Watch

Abobaker Eisa

One of Adams’ new recruits Abou Eisa joined from Scunthorpe in the Summer on a two year deal. 

The Sudan-born attacker played for Uxbridge and Wealdstone as a youngster before moving to Shrewsbury in January 2018. He was an unused substitute in the Football League Trophy final that year as the Shrews lost 1-0 to Lincoln City.


He scored his first Football League goal in April that year in a 1-1 draw with Bury. Since, he went on loan to Colchester United making 14 appearances scoring two goals before moving to Lincolnshire in 2019.

Last term Eisa played 41 times for the Iron betting nine in the process with braces against Harrogate and Humberside rivals Grimsby. Upon his contract expiry the 25 year-old teamed up with Bradford City and after a strong pre-season, will be hopeful for a successful season ahead.

Head to Head

There’s no real trend to encounters with Bradford City. The record is fairly even for both sides and both teams are capable of big results against the other. The sides have met six  times in the 21st century with four wins for Exeter and two for Bradford.

In total, 130 goals have been shared between the two clubs, in 44  games- averaging nearly three goals a game! That said, there has also been five 0-0 draws over the 60 year history of this fixture.

  • Exeter City wins: 16
  • Draws: 12
  • Bradford City wins: 16

Recent encounters

Exeter City 3-2 Bradford City | February 6, 2021 | St James Park

A second half resurgence from Exeter earned a valuable three points, with Matt Jay’s 79th minute penalty finishing off proceedings. Crankshaw had put Bradford in command on the stroke of half time after Pierce Sweeney cancelled out Vernham’s early strike. Ryan Bowman was also on the scoresheet for the Grecians. 

Bradford City 2-2 Exeter City | November 14, 2020 | Utilita Energy Stadium

Matt Jay and Ryan Bowman were on the scoresheet for the travelling City as honours ended even between the two clubs for the first time since 1992.

Bradford City 2-0 Exeter City | November 2, 2019 | Valley Parade

Three players were sent off when goals from Aramide Oteh and James Vaughan saw Bradford prevail. Jake Taylor and Tom Parkes were given their marching orders for The Grecians and Callam Cook saw the same judicial decision from referee Michael Salisbury.

And Finally…

A predominantly rugby city, in 1903 Manningham RFC- who played at Valley Parade- held an archery contest to fundraise to help with financial difficulties. During the event, the rugby club were persuaded to change disciplines and swap the handling code, for footwork instead, establishing Bradford City AFC


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