A personal Bradford City dream team
Over the years we have all seen players come and go, some of them right characters, but if we could, what would we do to turn the clock back and watch some of our players for one more time in their prime. The old grounds before they became big and commercial, Valley Parade before the fire, on a cold dark evening. This was my upbringing, this was my culture, this is what it meant to be a young lad in Yorkshire growing up, everything had soul and football had a Roy of the Rovers feel to it.
So today I'm going to look at my dream City team, there are 2 simple rules to this, 1 I've had have to see them play in the amber and claret and 2 I'm not counting loanees. Pure and simple. I'm not going to go for who I think was the best, that's boring and lack of passion on my behalf, plus it will be just very similar to every other dream team you may have read. I'm going to look at who I liked as players, who I rated, who I liked as people, that showed passion for our club or commitment to the cause. Let's see if you agree, feel free to leave comments in the bottom.
So if I could field a dream team from over my years, including manager, this is the team I would love to watch. The formation of choice is 4-4-2, call me old fashion, but I like 2 upfront to take the game to the opposition, play it down the wings and boss the midfield if need be whilst leaving a strong back line. 4-4-2 is a formation you can play about with during a match without upsetting the equilibrium too much. Go to a diamond formation, push the wings up or drop them back, have a midfielder play behind the top 2.
Manager - Phil Parkinson
To be fair, from taking over a club that was battling to stay in the football league to then go to a league cup final and promotion and then to the FA Cup quarter finals and in doing so took the only side to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in ALL competitions in 2014/15, Parkinson worked wonders with spending about the same amount as the Green Party did on fur coats. When I look at the best City managers, I really can't see far beyond Parkinson. In his time at City, Parkinson beat about a quarter of the Premiership fair and square, some of which with a weakened 2nd team (League cup run anyone?).
Assistant manager - Nicky Law
This might seem like a strange choice, but my reasoning for this is that I never saw Law as a league manager, but in non league he has worked wonders and his man management is excellent getting the best out of his players. He wasn't afraid to stand up to players like Carbone either and working under someone like Parkinson, I believe a lot of responsibility with training and focus etc could be shifted from the manager. League management might have been a step too far, but an assistant at a higher level could have proven fruitful. From our past managers, I can't see many to best support Parkinson in how he works and sets his teams up.
Goalkeeper - Donovan Ricketts
I actually loved Ricketts, it isn't often you hear from a pre season friendly hearing about the goal keeper dribbling the ball to the half way line. Ricketts I highly rated and for me was one of the best keepers we've had over the years. Ok, he may have had 1 or 2 weaknesses, but his throws were further than most keepers could kick. What saddened me is that we didn't have him at the right time, when he left City he went to a team that included David Beckham and I feel many City fans didn't appreciate what we had.
Left back - Wayne Jacobs
Jacobs had many detractors, even half the 10 managers he played under tried to replace him, but Wayne had 1 simple focus, buckle down, get on with it. You won't get a player with Jacobs temperament in today's game, the first sign of strife now, the player will leave a club, but not Jacobs, he just wants to play and prove people wrong and play where he felt at home. Having spent a decade at Valley Parade including the Premiership years, the all round nice guy fought for his place over the years and was one of the best left backs that has graced Valley Parade over the past century. The past several years, Jacobs has spent a lot of his time helping others through his charity work, and to me just instils him as one of the nicest people that was actually good to grace the pitch at Valley Parade. It took almost a decade to find a decent replacement in the form of Meredith.
Central defender - Rory McArdle
McArdle for me was a modern day Wetherall, and a giant in our defence for about 5 years up until last season. Wetherall I always felt we had at the wrong time as during his period we were fighting relegation and a slide down the leagues which was just unfortunate but no reflection on his ability. McArdle was David Wetherall the 2nd coming and was a commanding presence especially in 2013 helping us to Wembley twice. Always the professional, 10 times out of 10 you know what you will get on and off the pitch with Rory.
Central defender - Andy O'Brien
Screech as some of the City faithful of a certain age may fondly remember him by came through the City youth and made a bit of a name for himself. Young, full of energy and a great future lay ahead of him. Due to financial difficulties we had little option but to sell O'Brien to Newcastle United for £2m and then a move to Portsmouth for the same fee transpired a couple of seasons later.
Right back - Stephen Darby
This was a close call between Darby and Gunnar Halle, but it would be a massive injustice not to get Stephen Darby in my dream team. He is a solid player, gets stuck in, doesn't wince at the slightest things like many a top flight player who are more interested in how their hair looks. Part of the History makers, we have a lot to thank Darby for his contribution and I was actually mad at McCall for getting rid of him. A player that should have played at a higher level when he played for us in the 4th division, he was always too good for our level, but we took advantage of his ability. Like McArdle, a cup final and promotion he has now on his CV.
Left wing - Lee Sharpe
Whilst at City, the legend that is Alex Ferguson said England should select Lee Sharpe as he was at the time the best left wing in the country, but he played for unfashionable Bradford City, even Fergie could see why he wasn't getting selected. Sharpe produced magic, played for probably the best team in the world and also played for Manchester United a few years before. The problem was, consistency. Lee could have a great game, disappear the next, win the next few games single handily for City and then the game after you wish he would leave on a free, such the frustration with Sharpe. But on his day though Sharpe has to be one of the best left wingers to grace the Valley Parade pitch.
Midfield - Stuart McCall - captain
Come on, everyone saw this one. Any City dream team includes the battling ginger haired Leeds born Scot. We all have differing opinions about his managerial abilities, well before this and last season definitely, but you will be very hard pushed to find a City supporter that will rate McCall lower than great as a player. If you are too young to have watched McCall in his heyday, think of a player such as Roy Keane, a player that took no prisoners and was the cog in the machine that made everything run in the middle of the park. It brings a lot of pride when my club can produce a player of this quality.
Midfield - Gary Jones - vice captain
Ok, with this line up, I wouldn't have a lot of pace in the centre of the park, but the wings would make up for it. What this team lacks in pace, the midfield would have a hell of a lot of presence. Captain Marvel many thought was too old when we signed him, but even looking back my mouth salivates remembering some of the games we've had in recent years. Jones was the first captain since McCall that got me excited and had all the attributes I like in a leader on the pitch. There would be no way anyone would bully City if McCall and Jones were out there, I would actually fear for the opposition. It's a tough question who is the best captain in McCall and Jones. Shame the 2 never shared the pitch on the same team.
Right wing - Jamie Lawrence
I have 2 all time favourites and is a close call who I prefer, Lawrence is one of them, the other I will mention a little bit later on. Lawrence is the epitome of a player I idolize in the amber and claret. My most vivid memory from any game, Middlesbrough at home in the Premiership, Lawrence has the ball, gets tackled and takes a knock to boot, surrounded by about 3 Boro players he is on the ground, does he give up and roll about like a pansy staring at the ref crying like a little girl? No, he manages to pass the ball for Jacobs to score. If there were 22 Jamie Lawrence's on the pitch, football would be great value even at today's match day prices.
Striker - Dean Windass
Windass, what a character, no matter who you are, you love Deano, no matter what team you support, you have a respect for him. A striker that courts controversy, gets goals, not afraid to commit the dirty tackle and sod the consequences (Bournemouth November 2006 - I even shouted send him off in that game whilst sat at the opposite end in the kop as did some other City fans such was the tackle), he has a great personality and I really miss having a player like Deano now in the squad. Hanson, Wells or Wyke, they are no Windass.
Striker - Ian Ormondroyd
I still remember going to my first game, a midweek evening game, home to Man City, there was only 1 player my dad talked about all the way from Birstall in the car, all the way to parking up and walking to the ground, so it's no surprise that Ian Ormondroyd was the earliest and first player I remember from my childhood and was the player I focused on in my early days as a young Bantam. I won't be too blinkered that I won't accept we've had better quality strikers, well the game has developed a lot since the 80s, but I've never thought of players such as Wells with such fondness.
One of the best keepers we've had, but who can forget the, ahem, miss kick against his former club Manchester United back in 2001. Looking back, it's one of the biggest comedy moments now in the history of Bradford City.
Great servant for City, very talented, general all round nice guy. Great buy for £1.4m from Leeds United. Just a shame we had him during a period of off field struggle.
This one is going to be very very controversial. Whilst at City he was touted at the best left back in the country, a left back that can play up field on the left wing. No one knows the full story, but Emanuel is a shining example of how bad things can go wrong for a player and an individual I feel he had the wrong people around him ruining his career, a bit like the people around Mike Tyson. What a massive shame how it has turned out. I genuinely feel Emanuel was a victim of the system or society and exploited from a young age then cast aside and the people around him just badly advising him on how and who to be. Real real shame.
I know he turned us down in the Premiership because he wanted to play for a "big" club, but so what, it's his career which at best might be 15 years long at best, half of that at the top level maybe. Because of this, many fans wouldn't accept Summerbee as a City player a few years later. I was actually embarrassed sat in the kop listening to stick aimed at Summerbee, he received more than the opposing players (and we want to know why we suffered relegations?). What Summerbee did, try and block out the idiots and linking up with Dean Windass provided the majority of assists. If the other side of the field provided at least half of what Nicky contributed, we would have been a lot better for it. He still showed quality, his pace might have gone, at times he looked uncomfortable on the pitch, but I feel that was down to the crowd. If he was a player now, the reception he would receive would be so much better with today's support.
Right player, wrong time. That says it all about Johnson. Pace, ability, quality, desire, commitment, but because of the state of our club off the field at the time, it was no surprise that Sheffield Wednesday paid £500,000 back in 2007 for his services, a period where you could actually buy our entire club for a fraction of that cost. Top player in a poor club I dare to say.
I really was trying hard not to include Carbone, not even on the subs bench, but I liked the little Italian from Bagnara Calabra. There were a few times he had fallings out with managers such as Law, failing to fall in line at times, but when he was on that pitch, he didn't care it was only Bradford City he was playing for, for all he cared, we could have been Barcelona because when he was on that pitch he gave 110%. He wasn't selfish keeping the ball, he created chances from nothing and off loaded to his team mates, it was just a pity his team mates were generally crap. There was 1 game in particular, he got the ball back near or in our box, dribbled it all the way to the other end of the pitch, made the opposition look like John Prescott surfing and found the space and time to pass the ball to another player after doing all the hard work. It came to nothing after that, but he was one of the few wizards that have graced City.
There is more to his game than heading the ball into the back of the net, which he did quite regular. He was a box to box forward, he will get up front, get stuck in with the opposition, causing headaches for players and managers alike, but also when required, he will run back and help the team out. Plus he probably could get discounts on your weekly shop at the Co-op.