#TeamTwenty

When Saturday comes and the sun burns high

From up in a pale blue Yorkshire sky.

We leave our house, we lock our door

Heading to that place where ‘oft before

We’ve cheered and laughed, we’ve sworn and cried

And played our part in the magic inside

That place of steel and concrete, of wood and stone

That they named Valley Parade but that we call home.

 

We meet with friends, in a pub in town

For a bite to eat and a Guinness to down.

For me, my faves, chips with a BLT

For you, perhaps, something healthy?

At the crowded bar with our drinks in hand

We check to see what team is planned.

The eleven looks good, the shape looks fine

We’ve power up front and a solid spine.

 

Gilliead and Marshall will maraud each wing

What will their tricksy footwork bring?

This pacey pair patrolling the flanks

Crossing to the strikers in our ranks.

New star Wyke wears our hallowed number nine

Once worn by Bobby in another time.

When Stuart, our boss, was just a youth

And played with passion, desire and truth.

 

With the sun cracking fair up in the sky

As slim, whispy clouds overhead skoot by.

It’s a perfect day to watch the boys

To feel the highs and to share the joys.

Among kindred souls in a tight packed crowd

With young and old all singing loud.

On such a day, where would you rather be?

So come on, join us. Be part of #TeamTwenty.

Waddle was a Bantam.

***THIS PIECE WAS PROMPTED BY AN EXERCISE FROM MY CREATIVE WRITING CLASS. WE HAD TO USE SEVERAL RANDOM PHRASES AND WORDS TO INSPIRE US TO WRITE A PIECE. MY PHRASES AND WORDS FELL KINDLY FOR ME AND BROUGHT A DAY FROM TWENTY YEARS AGO BACK TO MY MIND.**

Saturdays in January are very special for football fans. Especially the first Saturday of January. That’s Third Round Day. A magical day for fans of the game of association football. The day when teams from the top two divisions in English football, the Big Boys, enter that season’s FA Cup competition.

For fans of teams lower down the leagues, in Divisions One and Two and, for a few feted clubs from the non-league scene still surviving at that stage, it is the day when their lowly clubs might get drawn against of the giants of the game. A “glamour tie”. A money spinner. For players it’s the opportunity to test their skills against better players; to see if they can match them, compete against them, maybe even beat them. For fans it’s a the chance to witness, live and in the flesh, those teams and players that they only ever get to see on TV or read about in the Sunday papers.

Third Round Day brings the hope of a money spinning tie and the tantalising, undreamable, unlikely chance to cause a cup upset. For many smaller clubs, reaching the third round doesn’t happen that often and is a rare and wonderful thing. The big clubs fear Third Round Day, for who wants to be Goliath lying at the feet of David? The hopes, the dreams, the anticipation and expectation. The fear, the excitement, the chance to gamble and win it all or to fail and lose. The compact grounds, not worthy of the title of “stadium”, with fans just few yards from the field of play. Where the shouts and cheers of the packed terraces ring out loud, proud and coarse around the twenty two combatants on the field. Cheering their teams onwards, berating their opponents. The cries and screams from the fans rallying, driving their idols to greater endeavours.

Oh, the magic of the FA Cup.

On January 5th 1997, my team travelled to Wycombe Wanderers for our Third Round tie. Wycombe, recently promoted from the non-league Conference in 1994, were the minnows. My beloved Bradford City, my Bantams, were in the division above and, due to our higher league placing, were the giants for that tie. Our season was a struggle and, when May came and the season ended, we narrowly avoided relegation in the final games. However, on that Saturday, we avoided the ignominy of defeat by a lower team and prevailed 2-0 at Adams Park. Both City goals coming from the most unlikeliest of players. Thirty one year old defender, John “Tumble’ Dreyer, getting both goals that afternoon.

If the first Saturday in January is special, then the last Saturday of each years first month has extra meaning. Especially if your club won their third round match and were safely into the fourth round. A home draw is always preferred. Obviously. Get a home draw and you stand a chance. Well, you might stand a chance. Or, half a chance at least. If you can’t get a home draw the next best thing is an away tie at a big club. No one wants to travel to play at a small club, someone like Barnet, in the fourth round. If you have to play away from home, then you want a big club.

So, what about a trip to Goodison Park for a fourth round tie in the FA Cup against Everton, one of the giants of English football? Yes, please.

The third round victory at Wycombe aside, we’d had a poor season. A terrible December saw City claim just two points from our six league matches that month. And our first league win in eight matches, and only the sixth of our campaign, didn’t come until early January with the defeat of Oxford United at Valley Parade. We weren’t expected to have a chance against the mighty Everton and we were expected to come unstuck against the Toffees.

Bradford City, my City, my adored Bantams, were the underdogs for this game. We were David facing the might and power of Goliath. Sandals, a slingshot and a pebble pitted against armour and a gleaming sword, its blade honed to deadly perfection. Everton were two divisions above us and with a host of better players, much, much better, players. International players, players with quality and pedigree. Players with exceptional skill. Everton’s squad was choc full of quality right throughout the team.

To the match. Halftime at Goodison Park and, with forty five minutes played, it’s all square. Nil nil the score. Deadlock. Honours even. The dream is still alive. Well, David hadn’t been killed by Goliath. Not yet. David still breathed and fought. David’s slingshot had yet make its mark.

But surely Everton’s quality would ensure the bog boys prevailed? Their class would show through, their LED brilliance would dim the weak light from our 40 watt tungsten bulb as the second half unfolded. Surely?

Four minutes into the second half. Bradford attack down the right flank, the ball at the feet of City’s winger Chris Waddle. His pace diminished, his talent unsurpassed, Waddle checks and steps inside his two Everton markers. His left foot, that beautiful left foot, exquisite and sublime, delivers the ball into the box. Mark Stallard, the Bradford City striker, knocks it down to the edge of the Everton penalty box where it is met by another left foot. A left foot attached firmly to the onrushing City defender John Dreyer. Tumble hits it first time. The strike is perfection and the ball arrows beyond Neville Southall into the Everton goal.

The ball nestles in the net. The City players turn in celebration.

The home fans silent. Stunned faces. Disbelief.

The away end erupts. Stunned faces. Disbelief. Dawning realisation. One nil to City. Astonishment. Pandemonium. City fans delirious.

One nil to City. One nil? To City? ONE NIL! CITY!

Can we hold on? It’s a long way to full time.

How Chris Waddle was even playing in the claret and amber of Bradford I will never fully understand. It is incomprehensible. But, for a brief period, Waddle was a Bantam. Between October 1996 and March 1997, thirty six year old Waddle graced our club, playing twenty five times and netting six goals. Waddle and his magic.

Two minutes go by in the match. Fifty one on the clock. Everton’s Andrei Kanchelskis on the half way line, City’s Rob Steiner chasing, harrying, haunting him. Kanchelskis forced toward his own goal, Steiner in pursuit, snapping at him, terrorising him, forcing the error. Kanchelskis plays the ball short. It falls mid way inside the Everton half, right in the centre of the pitch. Waddle arrives within moments, scampering onto the loose ball, his socks around his ankles.

That’s when it happened. And I still can’t believe it did. Not really. That’s when Waddle flicked the switch and magnified our 40 watt halogen bulb with his diamond light.

Waddle hits the ball first time. He doesn’t take a touch. He doesn’t pause or look up. He doesn’t thump it or bang it hopefully forward. The wizard waves his wand, Waddle’s left foot caresses the ball. It arcs into the darkening sky, its path predetermined by footballs Gods. Its route clear. Its destination certain. Waddle hits the ball and he knows. He just knows. He turns, the ball still in flight, his celebrations begin.

Neville Southall knows too. Near the penalty spot as Kanchelskis backtracked, anticipating the back pass, Neville knows. By the time the ball is dropping, Big Nev has only made it back to his six yard box. He knows. He turns and stoops in vain. He’s too late. The ball drops behind him. He stands, bewildered.

Instinct. Class. Talent. Call it what you want. We called it two nil.

Magic. Sheer magic from Waddle. The master dribbler, the wing wizard. Skills learnt at Newcastle, forged by Tottenham and graced at Monaco, were now displayed on a heavy, grass bare pitch in the colours of little Bradford City. Waddle the England legend, now Waddle the Bradford hero.

Bedlam in the away end. City fans up and jumping, leaping. Arms aloft. Fists pumping the air. Hugging one another. Clasping brothers. Embracing strangers. Cheering. Disbelieve again. Disbelieve not only at the score line – two nil to Bradford – but disbelief at that goal. Did that actually happen? That moment of wonder? Did that simple, yet amazing touch from Waddle, and it was just a touch, really happen? A look at the scoreboard. Everton 0. City 2. It happened. Insanity.

Is it enough though? There are thirty minutes left. Can we, will we, hold on?

And then, just minutes later, another goal from another City player. This time from Bradford born and Bradford bred Andy O’Brien. OB to the fans.

But it’s an OG from OB. Everton under pressure, harried and harrassed, play the ball long. It’s knocked down into the box towards an Everton forward. O’Brien stretches to clear the danger but diverts the ball and it’s a goal for the home team. 1-2 in the fifty fourth minute.

Goodison Park erupts as the home fans sense they can salvage the game. After all, City are two divisions below them and are bound to panic and run out of ideas and steam.

Everton hit the ball long again. Route one worked once, it’ll suffice again to get them back into the match. This time City head the ball away and it is turned forward to Steiner on the centre spot. He plays the ball short to Waddle and turns, running towards the Everton goal. Waddle’s left foot again as he pings it first time back into the path of Steiner.

The Swede outpaces two blue and white defenders. He controls the ball with his first touch, left footed. And with his second touch, curls it, right footed, beyond the stranded Southall. Steiner doesn’t stop running, he simply wheels away, sliding and somersaulting in joy. The ball is in the net and Steiner is forever in our history, in our records. In our hearts.

Cue crazy scenes. Well, crazy scenes on the pitch among the City players and on the City bench. Crazy scenes in the away end among the Bradford faithful. No such crazy scenes with Everton fans, players and staff. They are shell shocked. But, then, so are we. But, unlike them, we are three one up.

Everton 1. City 3. Three. THREE!

The noise is deafening. The cheers and shouts. The singing of the Bantams. The boos, oaths, curses and whistles from the Toffees.

Injury time. Hanging one. Everton pressing, City defending deep. Holding on, holding out. Now it’s the Bradford fans who are whistling. Shrill noises, imploring the referee, Mr. Reid, to blow. It’s gone ninety. Come on, blow it. Call time. Blow the whistle! JUST BLOW IT! BLOW!!

An Everton throw in. The ball runs to Gary Speed on the left. He knocks it past his defender and thumps a cross into the box. But it doesn’t reach a teammate. Instead, the ball, whipped with devilish pace, flies into the net and Everton have a second goal. They have a lifeline.

But it’s the FA Cup. And we all know about the magic of the FA Cup. And Waddle is a maestro on the flanks, a wing wizard. And Waddle the Wizard cast his magical spell that day.

Gavin

***The video is grainy. The memories are clear. The emotions intense. Have a watch of it.

NetGalley Review: “Behind Her Eyes” By Sarah Pinborough

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“Don’t trust this book. Don’t trust this story. Don’t trust yourself.”

So reads the strapline for this book. However, I urge you to trust me and I implore you to beg, borrow or steal a copy of this terrific read. You may even decide to buy a copy. Yes, that’s it. BUY A COPY. Heck, why not buy two copies and give the spare one to a friend? Because, trust me, you will want to share this book with other folk.

Having briefly met Sarah Pinborough last year and after being impressed with her sparkling contribution to a ghost story forum, I promised myself to give her books a go. As such, “Behind Her Eyes” is my first foray into her warped and deviously tricksy mind. You wouldn’t believe that such a charming and (relatively) innocent looking woman could deliver one of the most jaw dropping twists to a story line that I have ever read.

I’d read many comments and recommendations for this book across social media, and I was fully aware of, and intrigued by, the tantalising hashtag “#WTFthatending”. However, despite reading numerous mysteries and pyschological thrillers previously and although I was prepared for the twist ahead, when it came, the ending left me stunned. I thought I had it sussed out as the final chapters unfolded but the punch, when it landed, was a knockout.

Louise, a secretary at a private practice and a single mum, has a brief dalliance with David, an attractive man in a bar. So begins an absorbing and well paced tale as the lives of Louise, David and his wife, Adele, become dangerously entangled.

The story is set in modern times and told from the viewpoints of both Louise and Adele. Occasional flashback to events from the characters pasts help to pull you into this fabulous tale.

Sarah Pinborough has crafted a genuinely absorbing thriller which merits the accolades and recommendations it has received. Often books do not live up to the hype and hysteria surrounding them but “Behind Her Eyes” does. In fact, it exceed them. In my view, it deserves to be crowned the Thriller of the Year. It really is that good.

Trust me.

(I read a free digital copy of this book provided to me by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

“The Kerning” – revised chapter, 30/01/2017

Present Day

The sign on the window had grabbed his attention, its words proclaiming ‘THE BEST COFFEE & PIE IN TOWN!’ He loved coffee, and who didn’t like pie? But more than the promise of not only good coffee but THE BEST COFFEE IN TOWN, he was drawn to the sign itself, the words hand painted onto the glass. It wasn’t a printed poster or a cheap flyer pasted onto the glass. And, instead of a computer generated stick on graphic, it was actually old fashioned sign writing. He liked that. The connection to a dying craft spoke to him. He recognised the precision required from the craftsman to draw the lettering, the skill needed to tease the coloured sign writers’ enamels into the letter shapes and the artistry in adding the shadows and highlights that made the message leap from the window. He recognised the dexterity required in handling the long haired brushes, the flexibility of the fingers to turn, twist and drag the brush effortlessly over the smooth glass. The steadiness essential to ensure accuracy and to prevent errors or costly mistakes.

Now, sitting at a booth by the window, his fingers cradled around a cup of coffee, he could clearly see each individual brush stroke in the enamels, the fading sunlight from outside illuminating each letter, casting brightly coloured shadows onto the table top. He moved his hand across the wooden surface, the colours playing over his fingers, the sun warming his skin.

Studying the sign, he found himself remembering moments from his past, from a time before he’d become the man he now was. A time before he’d taken his first life, though he’d taken many since. From when he’d been happy to mix those enamels; choosing a clean pot, part filling it with a base pigment then carefully adding each different colour, stirring and mixing until the sign writer was satisfied with his efforts. Until the finished colour was correct and its consistency perfect. He’d enjoyed drawing the messages onto signs and windows just like this one, and had delighted in shaping the letters under the old man’s tutelage. He’d been happy to watch as the old man corrected his errors, keen to learn as the experienced sign writer made adjustments to the designs he’d sketched; smoothing the curve of a letter here, thickening a downstroke there. A time when he’d been eager to learn the craft and to follow a different path through life. A time before he’d practiced a different craft, before he’d mastered the art of killing. Before he’d become Lister.

A waitress, a pretty brunette with a stud through her nose and a dazzling smile, made her way around the tables and booths. She stopped to talk briefly with each customer, filling each empty cup from the coffee pot she carried. He watched as she headed back to the counter to get a fresh pot before approaching his table.

“Can I get you a refill?” She flashed him a wide grin, her lips coloured purple with lipstick, crisply defined lashes framed dark brown eyes, a hint of devilment apparent in their depths. “What about some pie?”

“Fill her up, why not?” Lister replied. “And that pecan pie looks good. A slice of that too, please”.

“Great choice. Cecil made it this morning.” she pointed back behind the counter at a heavy-set man in kitchen whites. “Cecil’s pies are awesome. You want ice cream with that?”

He nodded at her. Yes to the ice cream.

“We’ve got vanilla ice cream. Is that okay? Are you staying in town?” This last question innocently asked, something she probably asked every new face she served.

“Vanilla is just fine.” Lister smiled broadly, an open and honest smile that screamed I’m a regular guy, average, unremarkable. Forgettable.

*Vanilla.*

“Just passing through. But it sure is nice round here. I’ll be certain to stay longer on the way back.”

“You do that. We’d love to see you again.” She smiled back at him, refilling his cup. “I’ll get you that pie.”

She turned, moving away to fill his order. He watched as she walked, her uniform stretched tight across her body, the caramel-coloured fabric clinging suggestively to her. His eyes took in the curves of her ass and swept down her legs. Small butterflies rose from beneath her white socks and soared up her toned calves. Each brightly tattooed insect seemingly in flight with the rise and fall of her steps.

A smile, fleeting, almost indiscernible, played across his mouth. He stirred a splash of cream into the coffee she’d replenished. Lifting the cup to his lips he breathed deeply. The aroma filled his nostrils and he sipped slowly, savouring the flavour. Lister had few vices, killing people not withstanding, but chief among them was coffee. He took huge pleasure in a good cup of the brew and the promise of “the best coffee in town” had certainly appealed to him. Although he couldn’t validate its claim to be the best in town, the coffee was certainly very good. A damn fine cup of coffee, wasn’t that the phrase? Where was it from, he wondered? A television show from the 1990’s, he recalled, its name eluding him. It wasn’t important, he thought, he would remember. Lister rarely forgot. And Lister never forgave.

The waitress returned with a plate bearing a generous mound of ice cream under which, Lister assumed, hid a slice of pie. “There you go, sir. A slice of Cecil’s finest pecan pie. Enjoy.”

As she bent to place the plate before him, Lister read the badge pinned to her uniform, the fabric stretched tight across her breasts. Donna had clearly inherited her uniform from a previous, smaller waitress. Lister reckoned Donna liked the effect that wearing it a size too small had on customers. No doubt she got bigger tips from her customers because of it. Well, from the men anyway. Prompted by Donna’s taut uniform, the image of a glamorous brunette siren popped into his mind. Audrey Horne. The sweater girl from TV’s ‘Twin Peaks’. He smiled, he knew he’d remember. Damn fine coffee indeed.

He took a mouthful of the dessert, enjoying the crunch of the pecans, savouring the sweet stickiness of the warm maple syrup and the cold bite of the ice cream. Like the coffee it was good, but then, in his experience nearly every pecan pie he’d eaten tasted good. You could rely on pecan pie never to disappoint. And Lister didn’t like to be disappointed.

While he ate, he continued to study the painting on the glass, the lettering tinting his view of the street and colouring the scene outside the diner. He traced the letters with his eyes, following their outlines, assessing the craftsman’s work. Very impressive, he thought, good shapes, even strokes, neat brushwork. The kerning, however, was poorly executed. The spacing between many of the letters was too great making each letter appear disconnected from the other and disrupting the flow of the words. The artist should have taken greater care with the kerning, should have paid more attention to adjusting the subtle space between the letters. He should have taken greater care to ensure the message read as perfectly as possible before dipping his brushes into his enamels and committing the letters to the glass.

But, thought Lister, that’s why his services were in demand. When his clients had issues that needed resolving or mistakes the needed correcting, they turned to him. If someone made an error or needed to be removed and a clear message to be sent, they paid Lister handsomely to “kern” their problems. And Lister was very good at adjusting the kerning.

Outside, clouds moved across the sun, dulling the light coming through the window, snatching away the colours playing over the table top. Rain began falling against the glass and to slip haphazardly down its surface. His concentration broken, Lister checked his watch before spooning the final piece of pie into his mouth. Glancing at the check Donna had left, he reached into his jacket pocket and produced a small billfold. He removed the necessary notes, placing each neatly folded bill under his plate. Thinking about Donna and the butterflies, about her uniform, far too tight in all the right places and damn fine in every possible way, he smiled and added a few extra bills.

He drained his coffee before straightening his tie in the reflection from the darkening glass. Standing, he shrugged into his overcoat and pulled his cap onto his head, angling its peak low over his right eye into his preferred position. Then, exiting the coffee shop, he stepped into the storm. With a final look at the lettering, its surface now slick and obscured by rain, Lister turned and left the window into his past behind him.

BANTAMS EURO DREAMS FALL APART

****(My match reports from our Premiership days – 2000-2001)_ ##### – Match 06 – InterToto Cup Semi Final Second Leg – August 2nd 2000

– Bradford City 0

– Zenit St. Petersburg 3 (Ugarov 68, Gorovoy 75, Tarassov 85)

– (Agg 0-4)

Bradford’s debut European run came to an end as they were well beaten by talented Russian side Zenit St. Petersburg.

Three second half goals for the away side was enough to secure a comfortable four-goal aggregate lead and a place in the InterToto Cup final. Having spent the away leg vainly chasing the ball, Bradford had far more possession this week, but rarely breached the tough Russian defence.

Robbie Blake, relishing his role as a winger, looked the most likely of Chris Hutchings’ men to create something special. Twice he picked out Lee Mills unmarked with pinpoint crosses, yet the striker failed to hit the target on either occasion.

Zenit could have sealed the tie at the end of the first period, but goalkeeper Matt Clarke came to the Bantams rescue. Gennadiy Popovich nipped past Gunnar Halle, but saw his powerful left-footed drive well saved. Sergei Ossipov went one better, beating the ’keeper, but saw his volley rise agonisingly over the crossbar.

Mills finally got a header on target early in the second half, powerfully directing Peter Atherton’s cross towards the top corner. However, goalkeeper Viacheslav Malafeev, who kept City out with two marvelous late saves in the first leg, was equal to it and tipped the ball around the post.

Then, against the run of play, Zenit scored the opener and Bradford gave up. Ugarov simply had to tap the ball into an empty net after goalkeeper Matt Clarke could only parry Aleksandre Spivak’s ferocious shot into his path.

Stuart McCall then gifted the Russians another after a mix-up in the defence. The assistant boss slipped over inside the six-yard box, gifting the ball to Boris Gorovoy for a simple second.

With the Bantams pushing forward, Zenit took advantage of the gaps in the defence and Tarasov, scorer in the first leg, linked well with Ugarov, flicking the ball over Clarke to round off the rout in style.

  • Bradford City: Clarke, Halle, Atherton, O'Brien, Nolan, Hopkin, McCall, Whalley (Lawrence 83), Blake (Beagrie 73), Windass, Mills
  • Subs Not Used: Sharpe, Walsh, Westwood, Rankin, Grant
  • Booked: Windass

  • St. Petersburg: Malafeev, Lepekhin (Vernidub 86), Zvetkov, Gorovoy, Katulsky, Osipov, Ugarov, Kobelev (Archavin 28), Nedorezov, Spivak, Popovich (Tarassov 45)
  • Subs Not Used: Berezovsky, Borodine, Igonin, Gorchkov

  • Booked: Archavin, Nedorezov

  • Referee: Miroslav Radoman (Yugoslavia)

ZENIT SYSTEMS TOO GOOD FOR BANTAMS

****(My match reports from our Premiership days – 2000-2001)_ ##### – Match 05 – InterToto Cup Semi Final First Leg – July 26th 2000

– Zenit St. Petersburg 1 (Tarassov 16)

– Bradford City 0

A well-finished 16th-minute Yevgeny Tarrasov effort was all that separated St. Petersburg and Bradford City in the first leg of the InterToto Cup semi-final, much to the despair and amazement of the partisan 20,000 Russian crowd.

Andrei Kobelev, playing brilliantly in the hole, hammered a shot past Aidan Davison with the first of what proved to be a series of stunning drives. Although the ball whalloped against an upright, Tarassov was on hand for the rebound to sidefoot home the simplest of chances from 13 yards.

Bradford were a trifle lucky to be just one goal down, even at this early. It quickly became clear this was going to be City's sternest test to date after playing the minnows of FK Atlantas and the so-so Dutch side RKC Waalwijk in the previous two rounds.

With Zenit currently in the middle of their latest Russian League season, and lying seventh, their fitness and alert play was worrying the Bantams from the off. Inside forty five seconds Yevgeny Tarassov came close with a 19-yard shot on the spin, but it found the side netting.

Zenit employed wingers Sergei Osipov and Aleksandre Spivak, and their pace and penetration hurt Bradford's full-backs Lee Sharpe (pictured left) and Ian Nolan. The duo weren't aided by the absence of influential skipper David Wetherall. After the decisive strike, Kobelev was thwarted by the woodwork twice within a minute.

In the 30th minute he dispossessed David Hopkin just outside the Bantams box before thundering in another 20-yard drive. Davison was again beaten and rooted to the spot, but the ball rebounded off the inside of the right-hand post and flirted with the goalline before being cleared.

He followed that with his best effort of the half, this time a stinging 24-yard half volley cannoning off the crossbar, flicked away brilliantly by a Davison.

Bradford started the second-half as though manager Chris Hutchings, sensing a mauling, had exercised his full vocal range at half-time. In the 47th minute David Hopkin's teasing delivery found Dean Windass. However, the former builder's effort did little to cement any threat.

St. Petersburg poured forward again however, and Davison made a hash of a clearance near the penalty spot, allowing Igonine the chance to add a second, but Peter Atherton was in the right place to hack it away.

City applied some pressure of their own after the hour mark and Saunders glancing header was only just over from Sharpe's corner after 63 minutes.

But the visitors managed to kill the game off by defending solidly and deeply in numbers, and keeping their concentration, and in retrospect will be glad that their Russian opponents are defending such a slender lead when hostilities resume at Valley Parade.

  • St. Petersburg: Malafeev, Zvetkov, Katulsky, Nedorezov, Osipov, Gorchkov (Gorovoy 76), Igonin, Spivak, Kobelev (Ugarov 67), Popovich, Tarassov
  • Subs Not Used: Borodine, Vernidub, Nagibine, Lepekhin, Archavin

  • Bradford City: Davison, O'Brien, Atherton, Myers, Nolan, Hopkin (Whalley 86), McCall, Windass, Sharpe, Mills, Saunders
  • Subs Not Used: Clarke, Blake, Halle, Westwood, Rankin, Grant
  • Booked: Myers

  • Attendance: 18,500

  • Referee: Bruno Coue (France)

BANTAMS EARN EXTENDED VACATION

****(My match reports from our Premiership days – 2000-2001)_ ##### – Match 04 – InterToto Cup Third Round Second Leg – July 22nd 2000

– RKC Waalwijk 0

– Bradford City 1 (Mills 82 )

– (Agg 3-0)

Buoyant Bradford City's European travels continue after they comfortably booked a trip to Russia and place in the semi-finals of the InterToto Cup.

After registering victory over RKC Waalwijk in the third round, Chris Hutchings' side now have just three days to prepare for their trip to St. Petersburg to face Zenit, who recorded a 4-2 aggregate win over Hungarians LFC Tatabanya.

The Bantams were rarely troubled during the second leg of their third round tie at the Mandemakers Stadion in which they were cheered on by a travelling army of 1,000 Yorkshire fans.

Leading 2-0 from the first leg at Valley Parade last Sunday, the onus was on Waalwijk to apply the pressure, but they lacked the incisive quality normally associated with Dutch football to make the breakthrough.

In contrast, Bradford put the tin lid on the tie and made it four wins out of four in the competition, even though last week's hero in Dean Windass did run into a spot of bother.

Just four minutes after a tepid first half, Spanish referee Eduardo Itturaldo Gonzalez awarded City their fourth penalty in as many games in the competition. However, Windass failed to convert.

With 'keeper Matt Clarke sidelined with a hamstring strain, Gary Walsh stepped into the fray for his first match since October 23 following a double knee operation last season.

He was just one of four changes to the victorious side of last week, with assistant manager and skipper Stuart McCall, along with Dean Saunders both relegated to the bench. For Walsh, it was a much needed return to action and his one defining moment proved the game's turning point as he pulled off a stunning fingertip stop in the 81st minute to deny second-half substitute Iwan Redan.

It was a remarkable let off and City swiftly capitalised as Windass put through Lee Mills just 60 seconds later and the striker beat the advancing van Dijk and bagged his third goal of the tournament.

It sparked the City faithful into a non-stop rendition of _“The Great Escape” _theme tune for the remainder of the game as they celebrated their teams passage into the semi finals.

  • RKC Waalwijk: van Dijk, Lamey, Nascimento, Teixeira, Nwakire, van de Berg, T. Cornelisse, Leonhout, Gudjonnson, de Graef, Hoogendorp
  • Subs: Sinouh, van der Pennen, Redan, Lanckohr, van Dinteren, Kalezic, Govedarica

  • Bradford City: Walsh, Halle, Atherton, Wetherall, O'Brien, Nolan, Whalley, Hopkin, Sharpe, Windass, Mills
  • Subs:Davison, Lawrence, Saunders, McCall, Blake, Rankin, Westwood

  • Referee: Iturralde Gonzalez (Spain)

DEAN PUTS THE WINDASS UP THEM

****(My match reports from our Premiership days – 2000-2001)_ ##### – Match 03 – InterToto Cup Third Round First Leg – July 16th 2000

– Bradford City 2 (Windass 50, 73 pen)

– RKC Waalwijk 0

A Dean Windass double earned Bradford a hard fought win at Valley Parade on Sunday afternoon to give them every chance of reaching the semi finals of the InterToto Cup.

Windass struck on 50 minutes before firing home from the penalty spot on 73 to thwart a Dutch side that provided a much stiffer test than the one given by FK Atlantas in the previous round.

Lee Sharpe proved the supplier for the first goal; the former Manchester United winger twisting inside two challenges before laying the ball off to Lee Mills. His first time shot struck Nigerian left-back Emmanuel Nwakire but the ricochet fell kindly for Windass, who looped a header over the outstretched hand of ‘keeper Rob van Dyke.

Within two minutes the lead might have been wiped out as Peter Atherton made an awful error but the resulting chance was saved superbly Aidan Davison. The Bantams were then able to double their lead when a Windass shot was handled by Virgilio Teixeira, allowing the striker to score from the penalty spot for his third goal of the tournament.

Manager Chris Hutchings included new signings Peter Atherton and Ian Nolan, who slotted in at centre and right back respectively, although record signing David Hopkin, a £2.5million capture from Leeds, was forced to settle for a place on the bench.

Bradford should have been in front within six minutes when captain and assistant manager Stuart McCall sprung the offside trap with ball over the top. Dean Windass did well to control the ball but, with only van Dijk to beat, he hit the stanchion from 12 yards out.

The Dutch side then began to take a grip on midfield as Bradford realised they were up against an entirely different proposition to previous oppeonents FK Atlantas. The visitors should have gone ahead after nine minutes following a David Wetherall mistake. His slip allowed Joey Gudjonnson a clear sight of goal but the Danish midfielder sliced his shot wide. Atherton then made a hasty clearance which fell to Yuri Cornelisse but Wetherall made amends for his earlier error and hacked the ball off the line.

Two wasted Windass chances then proved the cue for Bradford to exert some pressure of their own however, with Gareth Whalley’s volley just over the bar the closest they came in the closing minutes of the first half.

Bradford’s persistence eventually paid off eight minutes into the second period though and the Valley Parade crowd were treated to the debut appearance of Hopkin, who entered the fray after 67 minutes.

The final word, though, belonged to Davison who produced a vital save low to his left in injury time to thwart Garry de Graef’s 20-yard free kick and preserve an all important first leg clean sheet.

  • Bradford City: Clarke (Davison 46), Nolan, Atherton, Wetherall, Myers, Whalley (Hopkin 67), Windass, McCall, Sharpe (Grant 80), Mills, Saunders
  • Subs Not Used: O’Brien, Blake, Halle, Rankin.
  • Booked: Atherton, Sharpe

  • RKC Waalwijk: van Dijk, Lamey, Nascimento, Teixeira, Nwakire, van de Berg, T. Cornelisse (Heesakkers 67), Leonhout (van Dinteren 61), Gudjonnson, de Graef, Hoogendorp (Redan 82)
  • Subs Not Used: Sinouh, van der Pennen, Lanckohr, Kalezic
  • Booked: T. Cornelisse, van de Berg, Gudjonnson

  • Attendance: 8,343


Referee: Hermann Albrecht (Germany)

MILLS SINKS MEN FROM ATLANTAS

****(My match reports from our Premiership days – 2000-2001)

– Match 02 – InterToto Cup Second Round Second Leg – July 9th 2000

– Bradford City 4 (Mills 12, 36, Blake 70 pen, Grant 85)

– FK Atlantas 1 (Karalius 90)

– (Agg 7-2)

Lee Mills returned from the Valley Parade squad periphery to notch a splendid first-half double and put Bradford City into the third round of the InterToto Cup.

The 29-year-old sidefooted home after 12 minutes and added a second 24 minutes later to set up a meeting with RCK Waalwijk of the Netherlands in the next round.

A second-half Robbie Blake penalty and a late Gareth Grant effort gave the scoreline a slightly unrealistic look, but the battling Lithuanians were comprehensively beaten.

Now City and their new manager Chris Hutchings can dream of emulating West Ham’s achievement last season of progressing from the InterToto and having a decent run in the UEFA Cup.

Sunday afternoon’s tie was Mills’ first outing for the Bantams since a 2-0 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday in mid January. Since then he has been loaned out to Manchester City following a row with former boss Paul Jewell, who didn’t even recall Mills for last season’s dramatic finale against Liverpool.

Atlantas are from the Baltic coastline and looked adrift from the seventh minute when Robbie Blake walloped a stunning half-volley against the woodwork after delightfully controlling a left-wing cross from Dean Saunders.

Moments later, Bradford failed to clear a loose ball and the visitor’s Darius Karalius hit a low, skidding shot which goalkeeper Matt Clarke just managed to pounce upon from 15 yards.

Lee Mills broke the deadlock from Blake’s pass to effectively end the tie although the Lithuanians could have equalised a moment later. Andrius Petreikis whipped in a quality cross from the right for striker Karalius to force a first-time effort goalwards from 12 yards, but the magnificent acrobatically Clarke flung himself full stretch to tip the ball over.

After 36 minutes, Bradford were two-up. Dean Saunders supplied a marvellous ball from the left and Mills obliged with a neat header into the bottom corner.

In the second-half Mills then went looking for his hat-trick, but nodded over the bar in the 58 minute from a Wayne Jacobs corner. Windass was next with a speculative effort that skimmed past the right-hand post.

Then came a flurry of yellow cards, with Windass one of the recipients, ensuring he will miss next week’s first leg with the Dutch team Waalwjk after being cautioned in Lithuania last Sunday.

Bradford grabbed a third in the 70th minute when Blake beat Osipov from the spot after the keeper had felled Windass.

In an entertaining game brimming with endeavour, there was still time for Gareth Grant to grab a goal and Karalius to blast a last-gasp consolation for the visitors.

The only taint on a successful day at the office for the Bantams was an injury to Wayne Jacobs, stretchered off after a thumping second-half challenge.

  • Bradford City: Clarke, Todd, Wetherall, O’Brien, Jacobs (Myers 75), Blake, McCall, Windass, Whalley, Mills (Rankin 83), Saunders (Grant 71)
  • Subs Not Used: Davison, Westwood, Kerr, Bower. Booked: Windass, Wetherall

  • FK Atlantas: Osipov, Vasiljev, Puckov, Lukosevicius, Maciulevicius, Petreikes, Jermakov, Zernys (Vainoras 27), Vijeikis (Veseljevas 42), Karalius, Suika, Vainoras (Raliukonis 68)
  • Subs Not Used: Valius, Kontautas, Cepas, Tautvydas
  • Booked: Veseljevas, Suika, Lukosevicius

  • Attendance: 10,012

  • Referee: C. Mendez (Spain)