Leeds & West Yorkshire

Bradford City's far-flung fans are among Wembley-bound

Wembley Stadium
Image caption Bradford City fans, from far and wide, are heading to Wembley for the League Cup final

As Bradford City prepare for their first major cup final in 102 years, the excitement around their Valley Parade home is building.

An astonishing League Cup run, that saw them dump a trio of top-flight names out of the competition, culminates in a showdown with Premier League opposition Swansea City at Wembley on Sunday.

But the anticipation has spread way beyond the confines of West Yorkshire as Bantam fans across the globe are making their way to London for a famous day in the club's 110-year history.

"I've watched us at places like Aldershot and Plymouth and seen us get beat. So, what is 30 hours?" said Nick Allan of his impending flight to Heathrow from New Zealand.

Mr Allan is a life-long Bradford City fan eager to be part of the occasion, and is not allowing the small matter of recently moving to Wellington, New Zealand to spoil his football dreams.

Image caption Mr Bowers took to social media to get permission to fly to the game from Australia

For him it means a 23,200 mile (37,200 km) round trip to spend just a couple of days in the UK but he admitted he was "unbelievably desperate" to be there once Bradford made the final last month.

"It was the only thing I could think about. It's a dream come true," he said.

Mr Allan went to his first Bantams game as a four-year-old and started following the team in earnest in 1987 but then emigrated last year.

David Bowers is another far-flung fan keen to see the final.

He turned to social media to help convince his wife to let him fly 10,500 miles (16,800 km) from Melbourne, Australia to watch the Bantams at Wembley.

'I was there'

His Facebook campaign attracted world-wide attention and he is already en-route, via Kuala Lumpur and Dubai, to reach the game.

Mr Bowers said: "In years to come I will be able to look back and say I was there when Bradford went to a Cup final."

Guy Thornton has a slightly easier task of travelling from Amsterdam, Netherlands for the big game.

A Bantams fan since the 60s, he is using the trip as a chance to acquaint himself with other fans he only knows from online communities.

'Icing on the cake

"There are people I know by name from the email list of City fans but not their faces. It will be a great chance to meet them," he said.

Image caption Guy Thornton is heading to Wembley from Amsterdam

He is hoping to meet up with fans from Australia, California, India and New Zealand before the game.

The majority of the 32,000 Bradford fans making their way to Wembley will be based in the UK.

But three fans based right in the heart of Bradford will have made an extra effort to see the final.

It is a shorter trip of 217 miles (347 km) between West Yorkshire and Wembley but the trio will have made a hard physical effort when the game kicks off, for the fans left Bradford on Wednesday - by bike.

Youth worker Nazaket Ali and volunteers Karl Cunningham and Sohail Afzal are undertaking the charity cycle trip.

Mr Afzal, who has a visual impairment and will be travelling on a tandem bike, said: "I've been a City fan since I was five. The whole experience is brilliant.

"I just hope City can put the icing on the cake with a victory."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites