Bradford at Wembley - my childhood dream come true
The game was lost, but we’re all winners after City make history
A lifelong Bradford City fan reflects on the Wembley match
The signs adorned all over Wembley read two simple words: “Inspiring Memories”. And oh how Bradford City have inspired memories to last a lifetime this season.
Football was boring, they said. A cup run to this extent from the fourth tier of English football couldn’t happen, they said. Well, they - whoever they are - were wrong, and how glad we are for that.
Bradford City have become everybody’s second team, and plenty have become hooked on a club that we knew was special.
Not even whilst I was sat in The Kop as a youngster could I have dreamt this. This was far beyond the realms of childhood imagination. Not even Tolkien or Shakespeare could have written this story. Drama, entertainment, passion, it had it all.
Anyone who said the result didn’t matter was lying; of course the result mattered. But when you step away from the occasion and consider the circumstances around the game, it pales into insignificance.
Swansea were excellent; there were not enough superlatives to describe their performance. For us long-suffering Bantams who have watched football from another planet, it was incredibly pleasing on the eye.
Then the cup run itself. The money this has produced will see fit that City - who have been through the ignominy of multiple administrations and relegations aplenty - will go from strength to strength in the coming years. And that is far more important than one game of football.
The buzz generated has reinvigorated a city that has had little to cheer about in recent times. Bradford is back on the map, and for a very good reason.
The talk since the dust settled on the game has been about the fans: and how magnificent they truly were. 4-0 down with 20 minutes remaining, the fans decided to show just how appreciative they were of the effort put in by Phil Parkinson and his squad. It was a show of unity, a battle cry from 34,000 fanatical City fans, some new, some old.
In my lifetime of supporting this wonderful football club, there has always been a special bond between the fans and the club. We are unique, and it was a moment which brought a tear to my eye, as I’m sure it did with many others.
Take the tribute paid before the kick-off to the 56 who perished on the 11th May 1985. Some disagreed with the decision to produce a giant flag, and they may have been right to do so. But when it was produced minutes before 4 o’clock, it served to be another point of proof that Bradford City truly does have special, special fans.
For us fans who have supported the club up and down the country for our entire lives, the hope now is that we can replicate our conquerors' story from South Wales over the forthcoming years. That begins in earnest on Wednesday night when Dagenham & Redbridge will face a Wembley backlash.
You do hope the claret and amber bug has infected some to the extent that they feel they MUST be there to cheer the Bantams through the leagues. It’s been a momentous run to the final, and one that is surely never to be produced again by anyone.
However, a bigger prize now lies ahead: promotion.
Who knows, Wembley Way could again be engulfed in claret and amber as soon as May in the shape of the play-off final, and another day of dreams could become reality.
By Aaron Bower