I cut my teeth on live football with Bradford City, it was my closest professional side being a matter of six miles down the road.
I remember watching Ces Podd anchor down the right-back position, and a trip to Valley Parade was my Saturday afternoon hit of sport. After that I drifted away from Valley Parade, allowed to go into Leeds which meant I could join my friends watching Leeds United.
That’s why I always tend to look at the Bantams’ results on a game day, there’s like a guilty pride when they do well, or disappointment when they don’t. I’m not a supporter any longer, more of a follower, but I still take an interest. In a strange way, I feel a certain compulsion to do so; after all, I owe them a debt of gratitude for my current love of all things Leeds.
It’s definitely been a sense of disappointment that I have glanced at City’s results of late. It’s definitely NOT been a season so far where ‘guilty pride’ has played much a part of my furtive glances at their results.
I wrote a while back on whether the men from Valley Parade were doomed for relegation just 13 games into this current 2018/19 League One campaign. I was quite hopeful of their chances of avoiding the drop. This is what I said back then – just three games ago:
“No, they are too good for that. But it is still going to be a season of struggle for the West Yorkshire side and their fans.”
Things have progressed since then and, with that progression, so have my thoughts. I was talking to a colleague of mine who said that during September last season City had five wins on a Saturday; in 2018 they’ve just had two. Call it what you want, dress it up in whatever fineries you like – that is horrific.
Since a pretty awful 3-1 defeat at Accrington Stanley, the game where I wrote my hopeful piece on City’s survival chances, the downward spiral has continued – indeed worsened. Since then, a trio of games against Rochdale at home (0-2), Coventry at home (2-4) and Gillingham away (4-0) has brought three comprehensive losses, 10 goals conceded and very little hope of change.
The next two games hold out even less hope for the Bantams. First up will be a game next Saturday against league leaders Portsmouth at home, followed a fortnight later against second-placed free scoring Peterborough away. The chances of City realistically getting anything from that brace of games must be seen as minimal.
The game against Gillingham was symptomatic of their slide, the four goals coming after City had held their fellow strugglers goalless in a tight first-half. If the first 45 was tight, the second was as loose as loose could ever be defined by any dictionary.
The rot started in the 48th minute with Regan Charles-Cook’s curled effort. A quick-fire brace of goals by Tom Eaves (64′) and Elliott List (69′) saw the Gills take an unassailable 3-0 lead before Eaves added his second, Gillingham’s fourth in time added on.
The result may have been woeful, City’s luck and finishing were also in that category. The Bantams had 12 attempts, six of these on target but poor finishing and bad luck haunted them once again. With one of those, poor finishing, in abundance, and the other in short supply, then you’d not bet on sitting breaking out of this rotten streak against the top two in the following pair of games.
I’m not as hopeful now, 16 games in, as I was after the Accrington loss. I still think that City can survive, there is that possibility out there as slim as it is. Will they though? Will they be able to put a string of results together that will lift them off the bottom spot, where they are currently four points and 15 goals from safety?
That is the crux of it. Whilst I think that there’s a slim possibility of survival for them, I just cannot see it happening. The next two games are likely to bear testament to that.