Date:Sunday October 3 2010
#bcvm 03/10/10 1500
Three years ago, as the 2006-07 season came to a close with the departure of Colin Todd and relegation from League One our beloved Bradford City had a great idea. Let's slash the cost of football. Let's put professional football on a par with going to the cinema, boost attendance, change the atmosphere in Valley Parade and bring back the buzz to the club.
It achieved what it set out to - we had over 12,000 season ticket sales. I was one of those, along with my wife, who could now afford to make Valley Parade a regular destination.
I'd left Bradford in 1995 as an 11 year old. Moving to Devon meant that I missed the glories that followed. I came back north for university in York in 2003. I popped over a few times (we never won) but a season ticket was just too expensive.
So when I took my seat for that 1-1 draw with Macclesfield. Stuart McCall's first game in charge. Carnival atmosphere. Sun shining I was appalled at the voices from behind me. The grumbles, the moans, and the pervasive negativity.
For those guys there was no sign of redemption for the players on the pitch when they made a mistake. And as the season progressed little could be done to enthuse them in any way.
Of course they cheered and celebrated when we scored, or when saves were made but it didn't take long for the default to be 'here we go again, sort it out Stuart, we're rubbish'.
That pattern continued for Stuart's reign. They were vocal in their disappointment with Stuart. We had a passive aggressive relationship - they would say something negative, and ludicrous. I would say something in response...not to them specifically but clearly in response to them.
I hated it.
I couldn't understand why people would have given up their Saturday to traipse down to Valley Parade and spend 90 minutes criticising and lambasting their Bantams. I didn't think that we played that poorly or were that irredeemable, I enjoyed the football, I enjoyed the act of coming to a game and having an afternoon out.
When did it change?
Yesterday afternoon there was a game played at Valley Parade. We lost 1-0 after a centre back on loan from a big club was played at left back and didn't stop a cross that was poked home by an unmarked Paul Mullin. Steve Williams should have known better, Oliver Gill should have stopped the cross in the first place.
There's not much else to say about the game. Except that before I got into the ground I was already feeling blue. Peter Taylor had spoken of the need for consistency from his players and then named three changes from the side that had defended stoutly and caused Andy Warrington to be named man of the match at Rotherham. Another two loanees, bringing the total number of players fielded to 26 in 12 games named in the side ahead of our own. Reece Brown played well, Oliver Gill is a centre back, not a left back. Luke O'Brien is, and a quality one at that. A loose combination of Hendrie, Adeyemi and Bullock were in the middle with Omar Daley somewhere between midfield and attack on the right. Up front Luke Oliver continued (never mind the three strikers on the bench) alongside Gareth Evans although, to my eye he mirrored Omar's roaming brief down the left flank.
There wasn't a great deal to get excited about. Omar Daley hit the post in the first minute, Lee Hendrie skyed the rebound. A little later later Luke Oliver headed a sitter over and wide after good work on the left by Gareth Evans. That was that.
Nobody could come out of the game with head held high. Some tried a little harder than others and got involved but again we were short on ideas, the midfield was anonymous, our defence hoofed it forward and we could still be playing now without scoring for all the danger we posed Barry Roche's goal.
Peter Taylor blamed the players after the game. He said they just didn't start well and when they do that there's nothing that can be done about it.
Derm Tanner didn't ask why he had tinkered again, he didn't press the manager on asking why his team look like they take to the field without a strategic understanding of what's going on. He didn't suggest that there was something puzzling about seeing a team find width at Valley Parade but choosing to change the shape to a narrow three in the middle and then hoof it over their heads. He didn't ask why Peter Taylor is obsessed with lamenting Hanson's absence instead of utilising the squad he has prepared. He didn't ask whether Reece Brown got to come on the basis that Oliver Gill is guaranteed a start (whether or not it's in position).
Instead he let our manager get away with blaming the team (are we seeing a pattern developing at all? Have a look at his comments since the start of the season).
And during the game? Well, it was horrible. I moaned and groaned. I criticised and jeered. I was sarcastic. I wasn't having a good time. The boos were deserved. I didn't at half time, I did at the end. I'm not sure whether it was as gutless and depressing performance as the Southend performance but that was a month ago and those green shoots of revival have come and gone as quickly as Peter Taylor's preferred starting eleven.
If those men who used to sit behind me had sat there since 2000 it's no wonder they behaved like they did. If every year was worse than the last how could I criticise their dissatisfaction? Apparently, I've only taken 60 or 70 games to plumb their depths.
My hope is near to being extinguished. 8 points from 10 games is only 'bettered' by the 6 points we'd taken in 2000. At least that Premiership start will take some beating - we didn't get to 8 points until we'd played 15 games.
I wish I could believe that Peter Taylor can transform that situation. That the return of James Hanson, Michael Flynn and Simon Ramsden (three of Stuart McCall's signings) will turn our fortunes around but I just don't see it. How much more experimentation does he need after the end of last season? How many more combinations of players will he try? How many changes will there be from game to game over the rest of the season?
This, it is not good. Maybe we should all just take a few weeks off and let them play in an empty stadium. I'm pretty sure there are better things to do on a Saturday afternoon.
There, I said it.
I've become everything I once hated. Please, someone do something about it!
Date:Sunday October 3 2010
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