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.

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