Tuesday 18 December 2012

bantamspast now on Twitter and Facebook

Just to let you know, you can now follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/bantamspast

We also now have a bantamspast Friends of Facebook page. Like it! 

Thursday 13 December 2012

Exciting Times!

bantamspast isn't really about what's happening right now. However, these are exciting times and Bantams history is being created. With that in mind, it's important that we record current events for bantamspasters of the future so that they can have an understanding of this momentous achievement.

Did you follow the Arsenal game via social media or the internet? Did you keep friends updated from the ground via your mobile? This was probably City's first big match in the age of digital media and social networking. Tell us your stories and send us your images, tweets, comments to the friends of bantamspast Facebook page so they can be collected and saved. Similarly, if you know of Bantams fans living or staying in distant parts of the world, and they have a story to tell about how they followed the game, please let us know.

Monday 19 November 2012

Arsenal - A Long View

As Bradford eagerly awaits the visit of Arsenal for the League Cup quarter-final tie, we look back to the Gunners first ever visit to Valley Parade in 1904. This snippet is taken from David Pendleton’s book Paraders, the 125 year history of Valley Parade, which is available from Waterstones in the city centre.

When high-flying Woolwich Arsenal visited Valley Parade on 13 February 1904 a double row of wagons was placed on the plateau at the top of the Manningham End to allow more supporters to see the game. Woolwich Arsenal had selected the trip to Valley Parade for their annual club holiday. Three special trains, provided by the Midland Railway, conveyed the two thousand, five hundred trippers from London. Bradford City had specifically requested that Woolwich Arsenal use the Midland due to the close relationship between the railway company and the football club – mainly due to the fact that Bradford City were the Midland’s tenants at Valley Parade.

The first train arrived in Bradford at 6am on the morning of the match. The visitors were recommended to see the district by tramcar, with the Saltaire and Queensbury routes being specially mentioned. Drummond’s, Shaw’s and Salts Mills all offered tours for the trippers. Unfortunately, ceaseless rain ruined the spectacle. The Woolwich Arsenal captain, on winning the toss, joked that he would ‘play with the tide’. With Bradford City leading 1-0 at half-time the match had to be abandoned due to a waterlogged pitch. As the first train was not due to depart for London until 11.15pm the trippers enjoyed the local theatres and public houses.

The Arsenal supporters proved to be popular visitors and a large crowd of their Bradford City counterparts were on the Midland Station to see the trains off. Some evidently enjoyed their trip to Bradford rather too much as several Arsenal supporters were reportedly seen wandering around Lister Park on the Sunday morning.

Saturday 10 November 2012

We Remember

This year Remembrance Sunday falls on 11 November: the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, when the guns finally fell silent in 1918 and on the Great War. Whilst we take a few moments to think of those who fought and died in conflicts around the world, here at bantamspast we particularly remember former players and supporters of Bradford City.

Of the players, in the Great War the club lost: Jimmy Speirs, Robert Torrance, Evelyn Lintott, Ernest Goodwin, George Draycott, Gerald Kirk, Jimmy Conlin, James Comrie and Harry Potter. In the Second World War we lost Alfred Keeling and guest players Sidney Pugh and Ernest Tuckett.

A roll call of the club’s supporters killed in conflicts is obviously impossible to collate. However, those who took part in this year’s trip to the Somme were particularly affected by the fate of the Bradford Pals. We visited the grave of Manningham born Arthur Greenwood, a private in the first Bradford Pals who was killed on the 1st July 1916 – the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Among his personal effects were several postcards of Bradford City teams, including those great FA Cup winners of 1911.

We will remember them.

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Ivor Powell, 1916-2012

Former City player-manager Ivor Powell has died aged 96. A Welsh international midfield player, Ivor came to Valley Parade initially during the Second World War as a guest player when he was serving with the RAF as a physical trainer.

He returned to play and manage City between 1952-54. He made 83 appearances scoring 9 goals. Ivor also played for QPR, Aston Villa, Port Vale and Barry Town. He managed Port Vale, Bradford City, Carlisle United, Bath and PAOK. Born on 5 July 1916 he was given the middle name Verdun to honour the huge battle being fought at the town between the French and the Germans in the Great War. In his later life Ivor was awarded an MBE by the Queen. We remember the life of Ivor Powell 5 July 1916-6 November 2012.
In the image above, Ivor is on the front row, second left

Wednesday 31 October 2012

Undercliffe’s Bantam Legacy

Two of the most remarkable chairmen in Bradford City’s history have their final resting places in the magnificent Undercliffe Cemetery. Barely the length of a football pitch separates the graves of City’s first chairman Alfred Ayrton and the man who did much to keep the club alive in two spells as chairman Stafford Heginbotham.

Alfred Ayrton stabilised Manningham Rugby Club in the early 1900s when they faced extinction, he then oversaw the switch to football and during the meeting that ratified the change he was asked what the new club would be called he replied: ‘Bradford City’. He evaluated, and then put to a vote, the proposed merger with the infant Bradford Park Avenue in 1907. His final act prior to retiring was to make the club a limited company and he left the chairmanship with the club poised for promotion to the top flight.

Stafford Heginbotham’s first spell as chairman saw him rolling up his sleeves to physically improve Valley Parade. He convened the famous crisis meeting at St George’s Hall that ultimately saved the club from closure. Like Ayrton he also considered a merger with Park Avenue but rejected it on the grounds that Bradford City was the first name on the FA Cup and that heritage should be preserved.  He returned to the club in 1983 when he and Jack Tordoff saved the club from closure with hours to spare. He later guided the club through the difficult days in the wake of the fire disaster. Stafford’s dignity, and full acceptance of blame, did much to ensure that the grieving process could go ahead without any background controversy.

Underclife Cemetery will be part of the Bantams’ History Week in April when a guided tour will be available. The cemetery is run by volunteers.

Sunday 30 September 2012

Eddie Parris: A Welsh Pioneer

Once again we are delighted to be part of Black History Month in Bradford. Due to the relocation of the museum we are unable to stage a similar event to last year when Joe Cooke and speakers from De Montfort University were our guests. We are restricted to making an online contribution. The first of our articles begins with the forgotten story of Bradford Park Avenue’s Welsh international Eddie Parris. We thank Ian Hemmens for researching and writing the article.

These days, the sight of a coloured or even mixed race footballer is nothing unusual for fans at just about every level. Despite the recent incidents and regarding certain players over racial accusations, these problems are thankfully few and far between. That is not to say we should ever lower our guard and let the foul and disgusting bigotry gain the upper hand. Players of all colours and creeds add a wonderful diversity to our game which we should promote to the highest extreme. I think the last frontier to be crossed is the arrival in our game of a couple of home-grown lads of Asian descent to make our game fully proud of its diverse future.

Bradford as a city can be proud of its acceptance of a multitude of cultures from all over the globe. The city’s sports teams are no exception to this with Bradford City signing mixed race Scotsman Willie Clarke in 1906. 1911 also saw City sign Lithuanian born wingman Louis Bookman who had become a naturalised Irishman.

Across the city in Horton, the Bantams cross-city rivals Park Avenue took a chance on a young trialist in John Edward Parris, an 17 year old winger playing for Chepstow Town. Born near Chepstow in January 1911 to a white mother and a black father.
Eddie made his debut for Park Avenue in an F.A. Cup game against Hull City in January 1929 when he scored the teams only goal in a 1-1 draw. He went on to make 8 appearances that season scoring 4 goals. The following season 1929-30 he followed up with 16 appearances scoring 5 times. 1930-31 he appeared 13 times scoring 3 goals.

1931-32 finally saw him becoming a first choice pick in the Avenue side who were regular top half finishers and prolific goalscorers in Division 2. He appeared 36 times and finished as the club’s top scorer with 13 goals. No mean feat for a winger and he had a formidable partner on the other wing in future England International Albert Geldard, at one time the youngest ever Football League debutant.

1932-33 saw Eddie go even better with 15 goals in 39 appearances as Avenue finished in 8th place. 1933-34 saw Eddie maintain his place making 21 appearances and scoring 3 times before being hit with a serious injury. His place was taken by Tommy Lewis and he never appeared for the Bradford Park Avenue 1st team again.
His Avenue highpoint was to be the 1931-32 season which saw him receive an international cap for Wales against Northern Ireland in Belfast. A huge honour and credit to the Welsh selectors for their enlightenment in selecting Eddie when one considers the English FA’s treatment of the Plymouth Argyle Centre Forward Jack Leslie (below).
After several seasons as a prolific goalscorer with Plymouth Argyle, he received a call-up for the England national team. His manager Bob Jack told him of the honour and the town was thrilled for their hero. Somebody in the corridors of power must have then mentioned that Leslie was ‘a man of colour’ and his invitation was swiftly withdrawn. A scandalous act which obviously wouldn’t be allowed these days, but sadly indicative of the less enlightened times. It would be 1978 before Viv Anderson became England’s first black International. Here is Eddie with the Park Avenue team:
After he recovered, Eddie struggled to regain his place due to Tommy Lewis’ consistency and in the summer of 1934 he headed south to Bournemouth to continue his career. He remained at Dean Court for 3 years till 1937 saw him move on again to Luton for a 6 month stay before heading for Northampton.

At the outbreak of WW2 and now into his 30s, Eddie played for Northampton, Bath City and Cheltenham Town before ending his career. He worked in the munitions industry and after the war continued to work in the aeroplane industry.

He settled in the Gloucestershire town of Sedbury where he died in 1971, aged 60.

Ian Hemmens

Friday 21 September 2012

Bobby Campbell - the Book

Tickets for the launch of Paul Firth’s eagerly awaiting book, Bobby Campbell, They Don’t Make Them Like Him Anymore, are selling fast and we urge supporters to book soon to avoid disappointment as the event is highly likely to be a sell out. The launch of the book is scheduled for Wednesday 10 October at 7.30pm in the McCall Suite at Valley Parade. Admission, either £2 for the event only, or £12 which includes admission and a signed book, can be gained by visiting the Friends of Bradford City website. People who have already subscribed to the book gain free entry by giving their name on the door.

Bobby Campbell will be in attendance along with at least nine of his former team mates. It promises to be an unforgettable night. City’s all time record goal scorer is a renowned story teller and we understand that many of his former team mates are eager to add to the legion of Big Bob tales.

Latest: Please note that admission is now by ticket only, due to high demand. 

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Museum Update

Over the summer of 2012 many of our wall mounted displays were re-erected in Bantams Bar and this location will become a kind of ‘museum in exile’ as we assess our long term future. Unfortunately, there is not free access to Bantams Bar. The club receives valuable income from its users on match days and we had to be sensitive to protecting that income while considering public access. We will continue to work closely with the club in considering what offers can be made to supporters who previously enjoyed the museum and cafe area in large numbers over recent seasons. Quite clearly there is a market for such a facility and we will attempt to draw up a business case to present to the club. In all likelihood this is a process that will only be fully worked up and available for consideration for the 2013/14 season. For the current season the club, in conjunction with Friends of Bradford City, will be running at least six free ground tours (which will be advertised via the match day programme and the official website) and included in the itinerary will be the boardroom, 1911 Club and Bantams Bar.

Many of our ‘crown jewel’ objects (the 1911 matchball, exhibits related to the fire, the shield that marked promotion to the Premier League, etc.) are in a display cabinet in the boardroom. It is hoped that in time these will return to a re-established museum. In the short-term the boardroom seems an appropriate location and perhaps the exhibits will be joined by another piece of silverware in the not too distant future.

Saturday 28 July 2012

Bobby Campbell Book Pre-ordering

You can now download an order form for the forthcoming new Bobby Campbell book by Paul Firth. It is available from our Resources page.

Saturday 14 July 2012

Harold Adrian Walden

English Football Olympic Gold Medallist Harold A Walden aka ‘Harry’ was born 10 October 1887 in Umballa, India, the youngest son of Joseph and Annie Walden.  Joseph was serving with the 2nd  Cheshire Regiment.  They returned to live in Manchester in 1889.

In April 1902, aged just 14 ½ years he enlisted in the Cheshire Regiment as a ‘Drummer Boy’.  Whilst serving with the Cheshire’s he played in the Army vs Navy Football Tournaments.  Records of the actual teams haven’t been kept.  Stationed in Northern Ireland he played for Cliftonville FC and in 1911 played for Linfield FC in 6 games scoring 5 goals. 

In October 1911, Harold now a Lance Sergeant decided to leave the Army and paid £25.00 to be released.  On his discharge he joined the newly formed Halifax Town Amateur Football Club.  Under FA rules of the day he was not allowed to turn professional for twelve months after leaving the Army.  His time at this club was very short as he made his debut for Bradford City FC on the 18th December 1911 against Notts County coming in for the injured O’Rourke.  He scored 3 of the 4 goals in the replay FA Cup round matches against QPR on the 18th Jan 1912.

He became City’s highest goal scorer for the 1911 -1912 season.  Playing in 17 matches and scoring 11 goals. The 19th October 1912 saw him Captain the bantams against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Almost certainly, the highlight of his playing career must have been being selected to play for Great Britain at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden wearing the Number 9 shirt.  This tournament proved to be the pinnacle of his playing days.
Great Britain received a ‘bye’ in the first round, they then played Hungary winning 7-0, Harold scoring 6 of the 7 goals.  In the semi-finals they faced Finland.  Harold scored all 4 goals to beat Finland 4-0. The final saw them up against Denmark, playing in front of a crowd of 25, 000, including the King of Sweden, Gustav V.  Harold opened the scoring with a goal in the 10th minute.  Great Britain went on to win 4-2 ensuring them the Gold Medal.  Harold, ever the ‘livewire’,  is reported to have said “Thanks King” on receiving his medal. He still retains the record of ‘Highest British Goal Scorer’ and is the fourth highest on the list of ‘All Time Olympic Goal Scorers’, achieving 11 goals in the tournament.
 He continued to play for City although in 1913 he suffered with cartilage problems and finally had surgery in 1914 which delayed his enlistment during the First World War.  Harold re-enlisted in April 1915 in The Prince’s Own West Yorkshire Regiment (Bradford Pals) with the rank of Lieutenant. At Étaples, France in 1917, he again damaged his knee jumping into a trench. He was sent home and spent the rest of the war as acting Adjutant stationed in Hull.  

Following the war years in 1919, he continued to play for City appearing in 12 matches, scoring four goals.  One of these matches was an away game at Arsenal on the 25th October where he scored two goals for the Bantams to win 2-0.  Arsenal was impressed and signed him for the rest of the1919/20 season!  He appeared in two League matches scoring 1 goal and four friendlies scoring 3 goals before returning to Bradford City where he was presented with a cheque (amount unknown).  Having made 57 appearances and scoring 25 goals for the Bantams, he retired from football.

In 1919 Harold made an appearance at a charity Lifeboat appeal at the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford playing the piano and singing.  This was to be the start of his new career!  Mr Laidler the theatre owner was so impressed that he signed him for a week’s performances on the variety bill.  Harold was a born humorist and life and soul of the party and was known for his antics on and off the field and stage.
Within two years he was topping the bills.  He toured extensively including Australia, China and India.  It was during a visit to Australia that he was pushed on stage to fill in for an ill comedian. His appearance was a roaring success so began his life of comedian.  He boasted that he was the only Music Hall Artiste to have appeared in the Olympics and won a Gold Medal!

His Bradford City days and Number 9 shirt became part of the act. The Gold Medal would be displayed outside theatres where he was performing.  He penned several pieces of music for the ukulele and wrote songs such as ‘Only Me Knows Why’. This became his signature tune and he also wrote ‘Ronnie the Robin’ and ‘Mother I’m a Soldier’ all of which were recorded on 78rpm vinyl.
 A minor film career was another string to his bow.  He played the lead role of ‘Jack Metherill’ in the 1920 film ‘The Winning Goal’ which was an adaptation of Harold Brighouse’s play ‘The Game’.  He also played himself on stage in his football shirt in the 1948 film ‘Cup Tie Wedding’. He became part of the famous Ernest Binns Arcadian Follies in the 1940’s. The 1930’s and 40’s also saw him having his own radio spots.

Sometime in the early 1950’s his Gold Medal was sold. 

Harold died of a heart attack at Leeds Railway Station on 3rd December 1955 after returning from a charity performance in Harrogate to raise money for the Yorkshire Evening News Christmas appeal.  He is buried in Killingbeck Cemetery in Leeds, West Yorkshire.
The following is from his ‘Memories of A Comedian’ written for the Yorkshire Evening News published on the 30th January 1947.
“Folk often ask me which part of my life I enjoyed best.  Playing centre forward for Bradford City or being a comedian?  And to be honest I tell ‘em this: With football it’s 45 minutes each way.  Rain, snow or hail.  And at the end the crowd gives you the razzberry if they feel that way about things.  With Variety it’s only ten minutes each half.  With a two hour interval. And a benefit at the end of every week!”

Wednesday 13 June 2012

France 2012 - Day Three

Saturday 2 June
In blazing sunshine our first call was at the enormous Lochnagar Crater. The Lochnagar mine was an explosive-packed mine created by the Royal Engineer tunnelling companies which was detonated at 7:28 am on 1 July 1916. The Lochnagar mine was the largest ever detonated and reputedly was heard in London. The explosion was witnessed from the air by 2nd Lieutenant C.A. Lewis of No. 3 Squadron RFC:

The whole earth heaved and flashed, a tremendous and magnificent column rose up in the sky. There was an ear-splitting roar drowning all the guns, flinging the machine sideways in the repercussing air. The earth column rose higher and higher to almost 4,000 feet. There it hung, or seemed to hang, for a moment in the air, like the silhouette of some great cypress tree, then fell away in a widening cone of dust and debris.

The description is of a man-made volcano and that is exactly what the aftermath looks like. The crater is absolutely enormous, a deep bowl scooped out of the chalky soil as if by some giant hand. From Lochnagar we visited the final resting place of a Bradford sportsman who had evaded our attention on the previous year’s trip – Bradford Northern’s Harry Ruck. He is buried in the large Caterpillar Valley Cemetery at Longueval. The cemetery is within sight of the infamous trio of Delville Wood, High Wood and Mametz Wood. Harry played for Bradford Northern at their former Birch Lane ground at West Bowling – two decades before Odsal Stadium was developed. He was the only Rugby League player from Bradford killed in the Great War. We laid a cross on his grave and will be passing photographs of his final resting place to our friends at the Bradford Bulls. Caterpillar Valley Cemetery also had the New Zealand memorial to the missing on one wall and there was an empty grave from where the body of an unknown New Zealand soldier was exhumed and taken the Wellington where he now lies at the centre of the country’s memorial to the Great War. The now empty grave informs visitors, in both English and Maori, how the solider was randomly selected to become New Zealand’s unknown warrior.

The multi-national nature of the British Empire troops who fought on the Somme was a theme that continued when we moved onto the South African National Memorial Museum at Delville Wood. The impressive museum is situated along a grass walkway among the re-grown trees of Delville Wood – or Devil’s Wood as it was nicknamed by the soldiers. Among the trees the ground is still pock marked with shell holes and behind the museum is the only tree to have survived the battering the wood received. The South African Memorial Museum is a stunning piece of architecture and is one of the best memorials on the entire Western Front. It is based on a Cape fort, from the outside there are thick stone walls, but once inside the visitor is faced with a circular structure with full length glass panels that overlook an inner court yard. The story of the South African’s in the Great War, and beyond, is related in a series of display that guide the visitor in a clockwise direction. The museum is sited in Delville Wood in order to preserve the memory of the three South African battalions that captured the wood, but were almost wiped out in the process. To read such a story of bravery and sacrifice and then to walk into the woods today, where only the birdsong disturbs the tranquillity, is a moving experience.

We were making such good progress that we decided to make some additional unplanned stops. First was at the Footballers’ Battalion Memorial which was unveiled by the Football League in 2010. The Battalion were part of the Middlesex Regiment and it contained many professional footballers including Bradford City’s Frank Buckley. They, alongside the South Africans, took and held Delville Wood, albeit with fearful casualties. Beneath the memorial were wreaths from numerous Football League clubs. Had we known about the location of the memorial we would have added one from Bradford City – perhaps another day? We moved onto Mametz Wood and viewed the vivid red dragon memorial to the 38th (Welsh) Division who suffered 5,000 casualties in taking the wood.

We returned to our planned itinerary and the huge obelisk memorial at Pozières to the 1st Australian Division. They were the original 'ANZACS' - members of the Australian Imperial Force that fought at Gallipoli in 1915. They took part in the capture of Pozières, which was secured in heavy fighting on 25th July 1916, and in the subsequent fighting around the village and towards Mouquet Farm. In doing so they lost 5,285 men. While many of our party went for lunch at Le Tommy Cafe in the village a small number walked alongside the main road to the huge Pozières British Cemetery that contains the graves of 2,756 soldiers and the memorial to the missing that surrounds the graves and has over 14,000 names inscribed on its walls. There are many Australians buried so far from home at Pozières. I walked around the cemetery and tried to read as many of the names as possible. It’s a strange feeling, but a compelling one; you feel the need to remember as many as possible of them. Perhaps by reading their names you bring them back to life for a few seconds? We rejoined the rest of the party in Le Tommy and found a group of Australian visitors already taking refreshment. We were later joined by a small group from Northern Ireland. The Somme should be, and in some ways is, a shrine that links the English speaking peoples.

We completed our visit to the Somme sector by viewing the tank memorial which commemorates the site where tanks were first used as a weapon of war on 15 September 1916. Directly opposite was another Australian Memorial on the site of Pozières Windmill – a strategic site which was captured by the Australians. Apparently nowhere else on the Somme did the Australians fall as thickly as at the Windmill. So it is appropriate that soil from the site was scattered on the coffin of the grave of the unknown Australian soldier buried at the national memorial in the capital of Canberra. We drove the Butte de Walencourt, the limit of the advance of 1916 and looked back at the Somme battlefield. It had been a sobering and thought provoking visit, but we were following in the footsteps of the Bradford Pals and so we followed them from the Somme and to the Battle of Neuve Chapelle.

At the nearby Vieille-Chapelle Cemetery we gathered around the graves of the two Bradford Pals shot for desertion: Herbert Crimmins and Arthur Wild. There was an air of sadness and forgiveness. We cannot imagine the horrors that they had been through and it does appear that their desertion was not premeditated but was simply the result of having one too many drinks. I wrote in the cemetery visitor book that they were forgiven in Bradford and I hope that many share my sentiments.

We than had another unexpected visit when we stopped at the fabulous Indian Memorial. A circular memorial that contains that names 4,743 Indian soldiers and labourers who died during the conflict and have no known grave. The high walls give a great sense of peace when you are inside memorial, but outside the walls are pockmarked with bullet holes from the Second World War. A couple of minutes’ walk up the road is the Portuguese Cemetery and Memorial. There are around 2,000 Portuguese soldiers buried in the cemetery. While the graves are maintained it wasn’t to the very high standard of the British Cemeteries and it gave us cause to be thankful for the continued work of Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

The final stop on our tour was one that was unrelated to the Great War, but when I saw it I realised we simply had to stop and pay our respects. The two Bradford Pals shot for desertion were executed in the village of Lestrem. In the Second World War this was the location of a notorious massacre. In 1940 the Royal Norfolk Regiment were stubbornly holding back the German advance on the evacuation beaches of Dunkirk. They fought until they ran out of ammunition and eventually surrendered. Unfortunately their captors were an SS regiment. The men were taken to a barn and 97 unarmed men were murdered by the SS with machine guns. Astonishingly two men survived and were hidden by the villagers. After the war the testimony of the survivors ensured that the SS officer who ordered the massacre was hung for his crime. We visited the graves of the brave Norfolk’s, while there an elderly villager told us that he had met many of the British soldiers in days leading up to the massacre and he told us exactly where they had been shot. Thus our final pilgrimage was at a roadside overlooking the barn wall where the men had been lined up and executed. It was a sobering end to a sobering trip.

We returned to Lille and the following day we boarded the Eurostar and bade a fond farewell to northern France. In London we enjoyed a refreshment stop at the Betjeman Bar on St Pancras station before heading north on the Grand Central service direct to Bradford Interchange. The final act came when a small group of us had a farewell pint in the City Vaults. There we toasted Herbert Crimmins and Albert Wild.

Tuesday 12 June 2012

France 2012 - Day Two

Friday 1 June

The morning saw our coach waiting, with our Belgian friends the Depoorter family, outside the hotel. Within an hour we were in sight of the huge Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. It has 72,202 names inscribed on its wall. Among them are hundreds of names from the West Yorkshire regiments. This year many of the group had researched individual stories of soldiers from the two Bradford Pals battalions who suffered so grievously on the first day of the infamous Battle of the Somme. A name cast in stone was brought to life, with an often familiar street name, place of work and family story. Here were men who walked the same streets as us, drank in the same pubs and, in some cases, watched football from the Valley Parade terraces. As was related last year, one of the names is Bradford City’s England international midfielder Evelyn Lintott, killed by machine gun fire while leading the Leeds Pals on 1 July 1916.

A short drive from Thiepval took us to Mill Road Cemetery where many Bradford soldiers have found their last resting place. Just across the fields was the imposing Ulster Memorial which served as a reminder that it was here that Bradford City reserve Ernest Goodwin was mortally wounded whilst serving with a Belle Vue based West Yorkshire territorial battalion who were supporting the Ulster Division on that fateful morning of 1 July 1916. The difficulty when visiting the Somme battlefields today is making the mental leap from the beautifully tended cemeteries and rolling green fields to the killing fields guarded by barbed wire, lashed with machine gun fire, strewn with the dead and dying. The Newfoundland Memorial Park at Beaumont-Hamel helps the visitor make the connection. Seventy four acres of trenches and battlefield has been preserved as a memorial to the Newfoundland Regiment which was all but wiped out during their attack on 1 July 1916. It is the largest section of the Somme battlefield that has been preserved. Although now covered in lush grass, the trenches and no man’s land are intact. Young Canadian guides show visitors around the site free of charge. Our guide was a law student taking a summer sabbatical to work at the park. He helped bring to life the battle and explained why the people of Newfoundland felt moved to purchase the site as a memorial to the 780 men of the regiment of whom 90% became casualties. As he explained it was the second biggest loss of any British regiment – the worst being the 10th Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment, attacking west of Fricourt village. He mentioned that fact specifically knowing we were visiting from West Yorkshire. It wouldn’t be the last time in the trip when we were reminded of our ties with the many nations who took part in the horrendous actions during the Battle of the Somme – brothers in arms and blood.

We lunched at Auchonvilliers. Known as ‘Ocean Villas’ to the British troops, today it is a tea room and bar run by British woman Avril Williams. There is a preserved trench in the back yard and a cellar beneath the tea room which was used by the French and British as a dressing station. Apparently, a British solider who was shot at dawn spent his last night in the cellar. It was here that we were met by the mayor of the village of Bus les Artois. City fan Mick Kirby had arranged for the mayor to meet and dine with us. His village was the place where the Bradford and Leeds Pals had been billeted in the nights leading up to the Battle of the Somme. Later we would drink in Bus les Artois' only bar where so many Bradfordians would have enjoyed their last night before marching towards the guns and going over the top on 1 July 1916.

First we went to the place where the Pals attacked on that fateful morning, Serre. We walked up a dirt track to the tiny Serre Road Number 3 Cemetery and the location of the British front line. To our left was the Leeds trench, from whence the Leeds Pals attacked, including Bradford City’s England international Evelyn Lintott. Just behind the Leeds trench was Bradford trench from where the 1st Bradford Pals emerged. The majority of them did not even make it as far as the British front line before being mown down. The 2nd Bradford Pals followed and suffered an almost identical fate. Of the 2,000 Bradfordians who emerged from their trenches, around 1,770 were killed or wounded. A generation of young men were gone and Bradford would never be the same again. To be stood on the very ground where the history of our city was changed forever was humbling. We were a world away from the sound of the Town Hall bells, terraced houses, mill chimneys and looming moors, but, to borrow a hackney phrase, here was a corner of a French field that is forever Bradford.

Just a couple of minutes’ walk away is the wooded valley that contains the Sheffield Memorial Park, where we discovered memorials to various northern Pals regiments: Accrington, Barnsley and Sheffield. Nailed to a tree near the beautiful Railway Hollow Cemetery was a small brass plaque remembering the Bradford Pals. I wasn’t the only one who thought that it seemed wrong that such a miniscule plaque was the only reminder of the 1,770 Bradfordians who became casualties over the course of a couple of hours on 1 July 1916. However, how we view the First World War is different to those who actually survived the horrors of the trenches. Apparently, many of the Bradford Pals who returned home did not want a memorial. They thought it was best forgotten.

We walked back to the Serre Road Number One Cemetery where we found the graves of many of the Bradford Pals killed in the assault. Finding soldiers who were born, or lived, in the vicinity of Valley Parade is fairly easy. But it is impossible to know whether they were actually City fans – or so we thought. I began researching the life story of Manningham born Arthur Greenwood. I discovered that his family had moved to Great Horton and that he had followed his father’s career as a barber. Arthur’s shop was at 386 Great Horton Road – which today is part of the Mumtaz restaurant. A keen swimmer Arthur was treasurer of the Bradford ‘Water Rats’ Swimming Club. He was one of first one thousand to enlist and was therefore in the 1st Bradford Pals (16th battalion Prince of Wales’ Own West Yorkshire Regiment). Naturally, Arthur became the battalion’s barber and was well known to all the men. Arthur went over the top with his best mate Charlie Lee at Serre. In a letter to Arthur’s parents Charlie described the attack thus:

"We left the trench at 7.30 on Saturday morning, July 1st, after waiting all night. I shall never forget it. He was very cheerful. As soon as we got out our corporal was killed. Then Arthur and I took the lead. We kept together until we got just behind the front line. There we found we were the only two left. We got into a shell hole. There were a lot of killed and wounded in the hole, our captain being amongst them. It was here that Arthur got hit with shrapnel. He said as I was leaving, for I had to go on, ‘Well good luck Charlie lad, I shall creep out alright’. That was all he said and I heard nothing more until late at night, when I was told he had been found where I left him. Another shell had burst and killed him before he could get out of the shell hole. I have lost a true pal."

We visited Arthur’s grave at Serre Number One Cemetery and placed a cross beneath his headstone. It was quite a moment, for here lay a man who stood on the Valley Parade terraces watching that great Bradford City team in the years leading up to the Great War. How do we know this? Well, in April 2011 one of his descendents sold some of Arthur’s personal effects on eBay. Among them were six postcards of Bradford City team groups, including one of the FA Cup winning squad of the 1910/11 season. From Serre we drove the matter of a few minutes to Euston Road Cemetery. The Bradford Pals marched past Euston Road en route to the front line the night before the attack and saw large mass graves being dug. Today, many of the men who looked, undoubtedly in some trepidation at the sight of the waiting graves, lay in Euston Road. One Pal there is Norman Waddilove. The son of a millionaire, whose family founded Provident Finance whose headquarters today overlook the newly opened City Park, Norman nevertheless joined up, and died, as a private solider. His uncle was chairman of Bradford Park Avenue between the wars and was a great supporter of the Bradford Cricket League.

Another short drive saw us revisiting the Bradford Pals memorial plaque on the churchyard of the village of Herbuterne. The location was chosen for the memorial as forty four Bradford Pals were killed in the nearby Rossignol Wood. We found their last resting place at Owl Trench Cemetery. It’s a peaceful spot alongside a quiet road with the woods overlooking the cemetery on a slope. I reflected that it was an odd spot for lads from Bradford Moor and Idle to have ended up at. We walked back down the road to the Rossignol Wood Cemetery which, unusually, housed seventy German graves. We wanted to see if the German’s were the involved in the fight with the forty four dead Pals, but the dates were significantly different. You do come across the occasional German soldiers’ graves in British and Commonwealth cemeteries. Their headstones are instantly recognisable as they are pointed as opposed to the smooth semi-circle that surmounts the British graves. However, the vast majority of German casualties were repatriated to Germany.

So it was onto the village of Bus les Artois and what turned out to be the highlight of the trip. The night before the Battle of the Somme opened two Bradford Pals, Private’s Herbert Crimmins and Arthur Wild, went for a drink in the bar in Bus les Artois. They got drunk and slept it off in a field, missing the bloody 1st of July as a result. They were arrested and later shot for desertion, despite pleas for clemency from their commanding officer. The mayor of the village showed us graffiti carved into the soft stone of the local church by British troops. We then went to the local pub where the two Pals had their fateful night on the drink. The villagers had turned out in good numbers to meet us and City fan Mick Kirby, who had done a fabulous job setting up the meeting with the mayor and arranging for the bar to be opened for our arrival, made a speech in French to the villagers, which was greeted with warm applause. We were undoubtedly popular visitors, not least because the bar had recently closed and the locals were taking the opportunity to revisit their bar, but there was also a recognition of our shared history. Two locals surprised us by bringing along their copies of David Raw’s book on the Bradford Pals. One villager told us that his father had become friends with a Bradford family whose son had been killed whilst serving with the Bradford Pals. They began visiting Bus les Artois between the wars and subsequent generations have kept in touch with one another. The entente cordial was aided by free beer for visitors and locals alike – I smiled wryly when I noticed that the beer was German. I wondered what the Pals would have made of that fact! An impromptu football match broke out between some local children and a number of our party. It was a fairly even game as the youthful Gallic enthusiasm was offset by the higher (if somewhat breathless and alcohol impaired) skill levels of the visitors from Bradford. The former owner of the bar, a lady in her nineties and now wheelchair bound, was handed the majority of the presents brought from Bradford which were intended for the mayor! The joy on her face was infectious. We eventually left for our overnight stop at Albert with waves and hearty au revoirs, the link between Bus les Artois and Bradford had been thoroughly re-cemented ninety six years on from when the Pals marched away from the welcoming glow of the local bar towards the sound of the guns.

Monday 11 June 2012

In the Footsteps of the Bradford Pals: France 2012

In the wake of last year’s successful trip to visit the graves of the eleven Bradford footballers who perished in the Great War the bantamspast museum organised a return to the battlefields of France and in particular the Somme region. Last year’s visit to Serre, where the Bradford Pals attacked on that fateful morning of 1 July 1916, was by necessity brief, but many expressed a wish to return and walk in the footsteps of the Bradford Pals. Hence on 31 May a group of City fans found themselves gathered on Bradford Interchange station readying themselves for a trip to France.

Day One
Thursday 31 May

We spoiled ourselves this year and travelled first class on Grand Central’s direct service to London King’s Cross. As the majority of the group travelled together the previous year the miles fairly shot by as we caught up with one another and made new friends among the five who were fresh faces. As we had one hour and forty five minutes to make the short walk from King’s Cross to St. Pancras we had ample time to admire the ongoing transformation of King’s Cross. Although it will never be able to replicate the glamour of St. Pancras, the new departure hall of King’s Cross is a stunning piece of architecture. Another new addition, the Parcel Yard public house (a Fullers pub situated on the upper part of the departure concourse), naturally attracted our attention. I would like to say that this was our first refreshment halt of the day, but it wasn’t as a small number of our gang had decamped to the Turls Green (or Lloyds bar) in Centenary Square at half nine in the morning. It reinforced the feeling that these trips were becoming rail borne versions of the infamous CTC 73 away trips.

It still seems odd that the Eurostar journey to Lille is significantly shorter than the rail journey from Bradford. We raced through the Kent countryside at 186mph, a quick twenty minutes in the Channel Tunnel, and one hour and twenty minutes after leaving London we were in the French city of Lille. A brisk ten minute walk and we were at our hotel in the inner-suburb of Romarin. The bar next door to the hotel was rapidly invaded, but shocked at the 8pm closure, we had to decamp into the city centre. En route some of our party learned that you have validate your tickets before boarding the tram, others learned you had to actually purchase a ticket! Less said the better. A crash course in French menus later and we had all dined and enjoyed the delights of Lille at night.

Monday 4 June 2012

Jubilee Thoughts

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her diamond jubilee over this weekend and bank holiday. Only on one other occasion has a Monarch reached such a landmark, Queen Victoria in 1897. As part of those celebrations Victoria granted city status to Bradford. As our current Head of State reflects on sixty years on the throne, we remember Her Majesty’s visit to Valley Parade in 1997. 

As part of the Maundy Monday visit to Bradford, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II officially opened Bradford City’s new Midland Road stand on 27 March 1997. The Queen arrived by Royal Train at Forster Square station. The first part of the visit was distributing Maundy Money at Bradford Cathedral, before officially opening Centenary Square in the city centre. Large crowds braved a rainy day to greet Her Majesty as the motorcade passed along Market Street en route to City Hall and a civic reception. In the early afternoon the motorcade made its way up Manningham Lane to Valley Parade. A red carpet stretched from the Main Stand across the pitch to where the players and dignitaries awaited. Among the guests were former players Bobby Campbell and Stuart McCall, members of the Football Association and Justice Popplewell – whose report into the Valley Parade fire had such vast implications for the game. Bradford City chairman Geoffrey Richmond led the Queen down through the Main Stand and out onto the rain soaked pitch. A Royal aid ensured that Her Majesty remained dry under an umbrella, but the waiting players were lashed with gusty blasts of rain. Apparently, Prince Phillip told manager Chris Kamara that his team would have to improve somewhat if they were going to avoid relegation! A plaque marking the historic occasion was unveiled and the Queen and Prince Phillip took their places in specially constructed seats in the Midland Road to watch a pageant produced by Bradford based Stage 84. It told the centenary story of the city of Bradford – including a reference to the FA Cup win of 1911. Afterwards, the Royal party made its way onto the Midland Road where the motorcade whisked Her Majesty off to Yeadon Airport and London.

Saturday 26 May 2012

There’s Only One Harry Hampton!

When I was growing up as a Bradford City fan, the club’s history was passed down to me by the family elders with great pride. Stories of 1911 and the like were passed around the fireside on many a night. The great players: the Bonds, Torrances, Speirs, O’Rourkes and the rest. As I picked up my copy of Shoot magazine, or the like, there would be a potted history of a club each week and when it was Citys turn I already thought I knew all the important facts about my club but, a couple of things didn’t ring true.

It said that City’s most capped player was one Harry Hampton with nine caps for Ireland between 1910 and 1914. Nothing wrong with that, but by then I knew the FA Cup winning team off by heart and Harry wasn’t there so who was he? He must have been a decent player to gain international caps yet he wasn’t in the Cup final team. Could he have been injured or suspended and then left out as the star winger Dickie Bond was? Surely such an important player would be an integral part of the team? Imagine my confusion when it also said he also played for Aston Villa and had won several medals with them? How could we leave this lad out?

A couple of weeks later it was Aston Villa’s turn for the potted history and under the famous players was Harry Hampton, an ENGLISH international! This was getting really confusing now, and for many years the misinformation continued either through confusion or lazy journalism. To set the record straight, Villa’s Harry Hampton was three years older was indeed a great English international. He did win many medals with Villa and was, and still is, rightly regarded as a true Villa great.

As a Bradford City fan, our Harry Hampton interests me more. His career was far more modest by comparison but I think he deserves recognition in his own right, after all he held a club record for the most international caps for over seventy years until it was broken by Jamaican Jamie Lawrence in the 1990s.

Henry Hampton was born in Dublin, Ireland, one of six children to Henry Hampton Snr. and Ellen Manders. Henry Snr. was in the British Army and after his discharge he went to America where he met Ellen Manders in Illinois. Two children were born there before the family returned to Dublin and then to Scotland. Sadly, Henry Snr. died and left his widow with five children. She applied for poor relief, but had to give up two children to the Mossfield Industrial School. Glasgow was no place for a widow with a large family. These were schools that fed and educated poor children and tried to keep them on the straight and narrow. Sport was a major part of their education and young Harry must have shown promise as a footballer as according to family history he was taken on as a trainee at Glasgow Celtic. Celtic would have tried many hopefuls from the huge Irish Catholic population in Glasgow and, although he didn’t make it at Parkhead, he must have caught the eye whilst playing probably junior football as he was signed by Dundee FC.

Dundee at this time were a top side twice finishing runners-up to Celtic in the league and winning the Scottish Cup in 1910, so the young Harry understandably found it hard to make his mark at the club. Someone had noticed him though. When Bradford City’s England International half back Evelyn Lintott suffered a lengthy injury, City’s wily Scottish manager Peter O’Rourke used his extensive knowledge of the game north of the Border to bring the 22 year old Harry Hampton to Valley Parade.
Several players had been tried before Harry got his chance in the away fixture against Sheffield Wednesday in March 1910. The game was lost but Harry impressed enough to keep his place in the side until the end of the season. The following campaign would turn out to be the most momentous in the history of Bradford City; the glorious 1910-11 season. Lintott was still suffering from his long term injury and Harry managed to start ten of the first fourteen games and was paired with the versatile James Blair. An injury then meant he lost his place to a certain up and coming Robert Torrance and the muscular signing from Rangers David Taylor; both destined to be members of City’s cup winning side. Such was their consistency, and the moving of Jimmy McDonald to the half- back spot, that Harry was to remain a squad player for the rest of the season. Taylor was moved with great success to left back to cover the illness of Scottish international George Chaplin who had contracted TB and was out of the game for around two years.

One bonus for Harry was his selection for the Irish national team for the Home International fixture against Wales on 28th January 1911. He kept his place for the games against England and Scotland in the series and although all three games were lost he had made a step up to international football. He only played three more league games as the City team concentrated on winning the FA Cup. He did appear in the second round tie against Norwich City at Valley Parade, but then let Jimmy McDonald back in for the rest of the cup run.

The following 1911-12 season came with City one of the country’s leading teams in the wake of the FA Cup win and the strong fifth place in the league; which could have been better but for the resting of players for the more prestigious FA Cup competition. Harry managed a creditable thirteen appearances plus two FA Cup games as the deputy for the ever dependable stalwart George Robinson as the club tried valiantly to hold on to their prized trophy. He also gained two further caps for the Irish team being selected for the Wales and England games.
The following season saw a further eleven appearances for City, once again deputising for George Robinson at half-back and he was also an ever present in the year’s home internationals, appearing in all three games for the Irish team.
Above is a photograph of the Irish national team, Harry is stood left hand side on the back row next to the suited gents. Interestingly, this picture has two other City connections: with flying winger and FA Cup hero Frank Thompson seated on the front row far right; the keeper in the hooped shirt was the somewhat eccentric Fred McKee who made one single appearance for City on New Year’s Day 1912 at Liverpool. He won many honours for both Linfield and Belfast Celtic. The following year saw Harry make only three appearances as his squad place came under threat from John Brennan and the young highly promising Joe Hargreaves. He also made his ninth and final appearance for Ireland. Although aged only twenty six, injuries were taking their toll and, with his place in the City squad coming under threat, Harry decided it was time to move and he went to Ireland to sign for Distillery in May 1914 just as the world was on the brink of war. He married Elsie Knight in Bradford and they had a daughter Caroline Edith, but he left them in Bradford as he tried to continue his career over the water. He managed seven games for Distillery before war broke out and he returned to Bradford where he worked for the Labour Corps. He also managed one final game for City in late April 1916 during a wartime league game against neighbours Leeds City. He continued his war work until 1919 when an old knee injury caused him to quit. Bradford City still held his registration and had retained an insurance policy in case of such an injury. After the war in 1919 he was discharged from Clipstone camp and set up home in Derby, never returning to Bradford and leaving his wife and child behind.

He started a new family in Derby which produced twin girls and a boy. I can’t say, or judge, what made him do this but after the carnage of the war was anyone thinking straight in those days? He lost two Brothers in the conflict, he had seen several playing colleagues killed in the horror of the trenches, he would have heard of the horrors of team mate Dickie Bond being a P.O.W. and Jock Ewart being gassed. Who knows how the horrific war affected anyone. These are just facts, not an excuse, I am not privy to his thought processes.

Whilst in Derby where he found work with the electricity board. His playing days were over and such was his plight that he sold several of his international caps just to make ends meet. Remember this was a time where the whole country’s infrastructure was having to come to terms with losing a whole generation of young men, not to mention the economic cost of five years of unforgiving warfare. He continued to live out his days in Derby until his death in 1946 from lung cancer and heart failure

His legacy was one of a young boy brought up in very hard circumstances and making something of himself. He managed to rise to the top of his chosen profession only to be hit by the tragedy of the generation he was born into having to face the horrors of the Great War; it surely had an affect on his way of thinking.

He was a part of a squad playing at the height of the English professional game for one of the top clubs of the period. Not only that but for almost four years he was a regular Irish international side when they were home international Champions for the first time. His record of nine caps whilst a City player was a record which stood for almost seventy years until finally broken by the hugely popular Jamie Lawrence and his caps for Jamaica.

Aston Villa may have had their Harry Hampton, but we at City had our own Harry. He may not have been a huge household name but he was a significant part of the club in its Golden Era and his story is here for all to see. Can I credit, and say a huge thank you, to Mrs Christine Duttine for her massive help and assistance in this piece. She is a member of the Hampton family who also wanted Harry’s story to be told and I am glad to be of help.

 I would also like to thank Christine for her kind loans of family documents and information and the picture of Harry’s Irish Cap which happily remains with the family to this day.
Ian Hemmens

Thursday 26 April 2012

Happy FA Cup Centenary + 1!

101 years ago to the day Jimmy Speirs headed Bradford City's winning goal in the 1911 FA Cup Final replay at Old Trafford. We remember all those who took part in the most glorious episode of our club's history, but in particular we honour Jimmy Speirs and Robert Torrance who subsequently died in the Great War just a handful of years later.

Friday 20 April 2012

Return to France

Following last year’s successful trip to France and Flanders to visit the graves of the nine Bradford City players killed in the Great War, we are returning to France again this year to follow in the footsteps of the Bradford Pals. We are leaving Bradford on 31 May returning on 3 June.

This year our itinerary is:

Thursday 31 May

Bradford Interchange 10.22
Lille 17.26

Night in Lille

Friday 1 June

Lochnagar Crater

Thiepval/Mill Road Cemetery

Auchonvillers (lunch)

Newfoundland Park Memorial

Serre No.1 Cemetery/Euston Road Cemetery/Sheffield Memorial Park

Bus les Artois (where the two Pals shot for desertion drank the night they disappeared). The bar is being specially opened for us.

Night in Albert

Saturday 2 June

Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval
Harry Ruck, Bradford Northern RLFC


Shiot at dawn Bradford Pals
Herbert Crimmins and Arthur Wild.

Lestrem/Le Paradis

The village of Lestrem where the Pals were executed is the final resting place of 97 British soldiers from 1940 who were massacred by the SS.

Night at Lille

Sunday 3 June

Lille 13.34
Bradford Interchange 18.36

Tuesday 10 April 2012

bantamspast news

After City play Swindon Town on 5 May the bantamspast museum will close in its current guise. We are making way for the new free school being developed by Wayne Jacobs’ charity One in a Million. The space we occupy has been kindly made available rent free to us by One in a Million for the last two years and we wish to place on record our appreciation of their support.
A working party, consisting of John Ashton, John Dewhirst and David Pendleton from the museum and Dave Baldwin representing the football club, has been established and is examining options for relocating the museum. Although talks are at an early stage it is almost certain that we will survive in some format. With these new developments in mind, the collection of exhibits will be retained and objects loaned will remain in the safe keeping of bantamspast.
One in a Million have pledged to do their level best to retain the popular cafe area for supporters pre-match. The museum will continue in its online guise and around September we are delighted to be helping Paul Firth to publish his long awaited book on the career of City’s all time goal scoring legend Bobby Campbell. Hopefully, by the start of next season we may well be relocated in another area of the ground. One of the options is very exciting and could actually improve both the museum and the facilities offered to supporters prior to and after match. We are very keen that access to the museum remains open and free to all.
Finally, and most importantly, it is people like you, dear reader, who ultimately made the museum the huge success it has become. Whether you loaned an object, hammered a nail into a wall or simply enjoyed the nonsense we have put on for you, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Together we have given Bradford City something that is utterly unique. Not even the museums of Manchester United, Barcelona or Real Madrid can compete with the love and soul that has made ours such a stand out museum. It’s a hackneyed phrase, but ‘for the people by the people’ is surely an apt way of describing bantamspast.

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Hand Made in Bradford

The newly opened 'Hand Made in Bradford' shop (formerly Virgin Records) has a display showing former City captain Zesh Rehman in the bantamspast museum. The display is upstairs, please support the shop itself as it is reliant on sales to remain open.

Friday 16 March 2012

bantamspast - a kind of ending

It is with huge regret that we have to announce the closure of the bantamspast museum in its current guise. After City play Swindon Town on 5 May the museum will close its doors for the final time. We are making way for the new free school being developed by Wayne Jacobs’ charity One in a Million, which is scheduled to open in September.

It has been quite a journey for bantamspast. The museum was first mooted in the wake of the highly successful 100 Years of Claret and Amber exhibition hosted by Bradford Industrial Museum in 2003. The football club was still recovering from a spell in administration in 2002 and were in no position to be able to organise a celebration of its centenary. Mark Neale proposed the idea that the supporters should organise something and from that acorn I contacted Mick Callaghan at Bradford Industrial Museum, who was also happily a season ticket holder in the Midland Road, and following an appeal in the Telegraph & Argus John Ashton joined our merry band. It is perhaps remarkable that the same people have remained a constant in the museum’s story to the very end.

The generosity of the City fans who loaned hundreds of items for 100 Years of Claret and Amber was matched by a desire to keep the exhibition together once it had completed its allocated run at the Industrial Museum. I approached Julian Rhodes about relocating the exhibition and he readily agreed; as space was the one thing that Bradford City had more than enough of. A second spell in administration in 2004 slowed the pace of development, but during the summer of 2005 a band of volunteers began converting the rear of the club shop into bantamspast.

Those first couple of years were the best the museum ever had. Our small band was packed with enthusiasm and we were fortunate enough to attract some fabulous pre-match speakers: the football ground historian Simon Inglis; The Guardian’s David Conn; and a highly amusing Dean Windass are just a few who spring to mind. Perhaps our most spectacular temporary exhibition was To the Palace for the Cup which told the stories of the FA Cup Finals staged at the Crystal Palace prior to the Great War. I also enjoyed putting together The Sports Grounds of Bradford, an exhibition that lives on as we have loaned the storyboards to Bradford Park Avenue AFC.

Eventually, we were forced to move into our current position above the shop when the club found a tenant for our original space. A summer of clearing and heaving saw the museum relocated just in time for the new season. There was amusement along the way, including the time I got stuck in the lift and had to be rescued by Allan Gilliver who said on opening the doors ‘if I had known it was you I wouldn’t have bothered’. All said with a smile and a few additional words I dare not repeat in a family publication such as The City Gent. We were also very fortunate to meet David Ward, currently the MP for Bradford East, who was at the time a local councillor working at Leeds Metropolitan University. He managed to talk the university into renting the entire floor and developing it as a community hub. The cafe reopened and slowly we began to enjoy a new lease of life. It was also fortunate for me, as in time I enrolled on a master’s degree course in social history at Leeds Met; something I had definitely not envisaged when plans were first mooted for the museum.

It’s fair to say that for a couple of seasons the energy levels naturally dropped among our small band of volunteers as life and new opportunities ate up our time. However, in 2011, with the addition of the long time friend of bantamspast, John Dewhirst, we marked the centenary of Bradford City’s famous FA Cup triumph. The exhibition had to be held at Bradford Industrial Museum, not only to harness their superior expertise, but also due to the fact that we could not afford the insurance on the FA Cup winners’ medals! The exhibition was an absolute triumph, as was the celebration dinner, so fabulously organised by John Dewhirst, at the Midland Hotel, held in the same room the players returned to exactly one hundred years to the day. We ventured into publishing with the release of my own Glorious 1911 book that charted the story of the FA Cup triumph. We even branched out into tourism when I led a party of City fans on a pilgrimage to the final resting places of the nine City players and two Avenue players killed in the Great War. It was a fitting end to the FA Cup centenary celebrations.

This season we were fortunate to attract top class speakers in the guise of professors Tony Collins and Matt Taylor from the International Centre for Sports History and Culture at De Montfort University, Leicester, for our inaugural Black History Month event. Joe Cooke was our guest of honour and he was the gentleman we all knew he was. My personal highlight of this season, and indeed the entire bantamspast project, was the release of the book Paraders, the 125 year history of Valley Parade. A labour of love if there ever was one, I was delighted when it became both the best selling, and most stolen, book in Waterstone’s over Christmas.

So what now for bantamspast? We will begin to return loaned object over the course of the summer. We are also investigating ways of reusing some of the storyboards and exhibits in other parts of Valley Parade. One in a Million have pledged to do their level best to retain the popular cafe area for supporters pre-match, so there may well be an opportunity to have a small display in that area as well. The museum will continue in its on-line guise and around September we are delighted to be helping Paul Firth to publish his long awaited book on the career of City’s all time goal scoring legend Bobby Campbell.

Over the years I have made some fabulous friends from my involvement in bantamspast. Indeed, I even gained a new love interest via the museum, sadly short-lived, but fun while it lasted! There are far too many people to thank in the eleven years the project has been running. I hesitate to begin naming names as I may forget someone in error. However, Mick Callaghan, John Dewhirst, Mark Neale, David Ward and Leeds Metropolitan University and One in a Million deserve special mention. Although I am often titled curator of the museum, mainly for clarity and point of contact, I cannot finish without saluting the immense contribution of John Ashton. Without John bantampast would have barely got off the ground. Over the last decade John has also become a close friend and that is something that will outlast bantamspast.

Finally, and most importantly, it is people like you, dear reader, who ultimately made the museum the huge success it became. Whether you loaned an object, hammered a nail into a wall or simply enjoyed the nonsense we have put on for you, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Together we gave Bradford City something that was utterly unique. Not even the museums of Manchester United, Barcelona or Real Madrid could compete with the love and soul that made bantamspast such a stand out museum. It’s a hackneyed phrase, but for the people by the people is surely an apt way of describing bantamspast.

David Pendleton

PS John Ashton here: I’d like to take the opportunity of backing up all of David’s comments above, especially those which refer to the formation of life-long friendships through our involvement in the bantamspast project. For my part, I often reflect on the personal significance of that first contact with Dave following his appeal in the T&A back in 2003. Over the ensuing years it led me into a new mini career in design and work with digital images. In addition to my City related work, I have also had the privilege of being involved in exhibitions about the Bulls, the Bradford Cricket League, the Bradford Magic Circle, Steampunk and many more. And it all emanated from that first phone call! Perhaps the proudest moments for me were the 1911 Centenary celebrations: the Pictureville event, Dave’s book, the exhibition and the dinner at the Midland Hotel. I was particularly pleased with the life-sized cut-out of the 1911 FA Cup winning team which I digitally repaired and coloured. To know that it now has a permanent home in the reception area of the 1911 Club is a real honour.
bantamspast is a unique project in that it has never been just about football. Perhaps more than other clubs, the story of Bradford City is inextricably linked with that of the community in which it dwells and bantamspast has always reflected this. Hopefully, it’s not the end - more a pause for breath and continuation in a different guise.

Tuesday 24 January 2012

BBC Radio 4 - Major Historical Series on the History of British Sport

David Pendleton, the author of Paraders and Glorious 1911, is researching a part time PhD into the sporting leisure of Bradford via De Montfort University's International Centre for Sports History and Culture. Next week the centre, in conjunction with the BBC, will be launching a major new 30 episode series on the history of British sport. The series will be narrated by Clare Balding and will be a flagship historical series for BBC Radio 4 in the London Olympic year.

The first episode will be broadcast at 1:45pm on Monday 30th January. An omnibus edition for each week will also be broadcast at 21:02 each Friday night.

Further information on the first episode and the series is attached below.



Thursday 12 January 2012

Paraders at Number One

As the picture shows, Paraders, the 125 year history of Valley Parade, is number one best seller at the Bradford branch of Waterstone's (soon to be without their apostrophe, we hear).

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