Leeds & West Yorkshire

Bradford City cup run pulls city together

Fans watching Bradford City at the Bradford Bulls stadium
For Maz Karolia watching Bradford City was about "civic pride"

On a cold February afternoon in Bradford city centre there was little to show that the city's football team was at Wembley.

The biggest visible sign is the large Bradford City flag flying above the City Hall.

But look closer and the signs are there, small groups of people are muffled against the cold with the club's claret and amber colours. And many are certain the cup run has brought the city together.

Paul Tonge is sitting outside a bar near the city hall. He couldn't get a ticket to the Wembley game but is proud of the cup effect.

'Bradford in news'

"It's put Bradford in the news and there's been nowt good in that for a while about this place," he said.

Francis Rush, Andy Forrest, Chris Metcalfe and Helen Jackson
"For one day only I am a Bantam fan," said Helen Jackson

A group of four friends are making for a city centre pub to watch the game dressed in city colours.

Helen Jackson, a Blackburn Rovers supporter is wearing a comedy chicken hat in honour of the Bantams.

"For one day only I am a Bantam fan," she declared.

Andy Forrest is Bradford born-and-bred and has a much deeper reason for watching the game.

He said: "Bradford are the underdogs but they've got to do it for the 56."

It's a typically quiet reference to the tragedy when 56 people were killed during a fire in a stand at Bradford's Valley Parade in 1985 during a promotion-celebrating game against Lincoln City.

Heavy, grey clouds cast a pall over a quiet Centenary Square, hail whips around and it is not a day to be outside.

Alan Bean a Bradford Park Avenue fan
Alan Bean was pleased the city is getting good publicity

Alan Bean is keeping himself warm with a scarf in the green and white colours of non-league Bradford Park Avenue. He too is pleased the city is getting good publicity, although there is a downside for him.

"It's a bit hard to see the other team in the news. Mind you if City had 32,000 every game like those that have gone to Wembley the ground would be full every week wouldn't it?" he says.

If it's cold on the streets of Bradford the Trevor Foster suite at Bradford Bull's rugby league stadium in the south of the city is anything but.

More than 70 people have crowded in to watch the game on a big screen. Excitement and the heating are running high.

Dean Wood is a Bradford Bulls season ticket holder who has been to Wembley to watch his team in rugby league finals.

He does not support football but has felt the "buzz" around the city and wanted to be in the atmosphere believing the event at the stadium would be more family-friendly than a heaving pub.

'Support each other'

The Bradford City flag over City Hall
The biggest visible sign in Bradford city centre

Also watching was Maz Karolia who in her own words is "not your typical rugby fan".

For her the Bradford City cup run has been about civic pride.

As a 10-year-old living just off Manningham Lane near the Valley Parade football ground she remembered seeing the smoke from the fatal 1985 fire rising into the sky.

"My family went down to the ground and helped as best we could," she remembered.

The fire had such an effect on her she was scared to go down to the football ground afterwards.

"It's weird but I've never been to a Bradford City game because of the fire," she admitted.

"I volunteered to help out at the Bulls and when I see the flags around the ground my whole heart lifts. Out there is the real world of council cuts but in here we are invincible."

However, as a recent rugby league fan she is sure of one thing.

"The Bulls, City and Bradford Park Avenue have got to support each other."

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