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From League Two to Wembley, Bradford’s ten years of success.

By Ben Emmott
28th April 2007, the day Bradford City got relegated to the depths of League Two. A 3-0 defeat away at Chesterfield secured the Bantams place in the division for the first time in 25 years and resulted in Stuart McCall becoming Manager.
Fast forward ten years and Stuart McCall was stood in the dugout for his second stint at the club, with the aim of getting promoted to the Championship, after just missing out in the play-off final against Millwall three months earlier.
The last ten seasons have been hectic for Bradford City supporters. Of course, there have been low points, but they have certainly been overshadowed by the numerous high points that the loyal fans will never, ever forget.
After a nervy season 2011/2012, where City finished six points above the drop zone, Bradford fans came into the 2012/2013 season not really knowing what to expect from the campaign. But the club was in for a season that will go down in history.
The famous League Cup run, some would say the most famous of all time. The magic started when the Bantams managed to beat Premier League side, Wigan Athletic on penalties. In the next draw, Bradford was drawn to face none other than Premier League giants, Arsenal.
The tie went to penalties yet again after a one all draw in 120 minutes at Valley Parade. And yet again, City came out on top, earning themselves a two-legged semi-final tie against Aston Villa, their third Premier League battle.
Bradford managed to win the first leg at home 3-1 and lost the second leg 2-1, which still sent them to Wembley after holding on, on a snowy night at Villa Park.
Wembley was waiting for Phil Parkinson’s side, who were to face Swansea City on their first trip to the new stadium. Sadly the dream was ended by the Swans who comfortably beat the Bantams 5-0, but regardless, Bradford fans endured one of the most thrilling couple of months they might ever see.
The fun wasn’t over for Bradford, as two months later, City would be returning to Wembley for the play-off final. Northampton were brushed aside, 3-0, by Bradford who finally got themselves out of League Two.
Gareth Jones, BBC Radio Leeds, believes the clubs turn around in 12 months was “remarkable”.
“These achievements (the cup runs) put Bradford back on the Football map and brought in much needed revenue, for me, more important than these was their actual promotion from League Two to League One.
Firstly, this is because league football is the “bread and butter” of any club, but also because playing in a high league brings more consistent increased revenues and attendances.
Secondly, because their promotion was also against the odds and became a major shock too. The previous season the club had finished and were lucky not to be relegated to the non-league. So to turn their fortunes around in 12 months is remarkable.”
2014/2015 saw Bradford go on an FA Cup run which will go down as one of the most memorable in recent years.
It started with a local derby against FC Halifax Town in the first round, with Bradford coming out victorious. Skip to the fourth round and City were preparing themselves to face Premier League leaders, Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Bradford City season ticket holder, Jacob Wheeler didn’t expect much out of the game beforehand:
“Being honest, at first it was just good to go and watch us play against Chelsea at their ground, but it obviously turned out to be one of the best days of my life. We have a really loyal fan base and I think that we deserved something like this after having a tough period when we got relegated and struggled for a few years but I have a really good feeling that we’re on the up now.”
Bradford famously went on to win the match 4-2 after being 2-0 down and were crowned as winners of the Ronnie Radford FA Cup Giant-Killers Award.
The fun didn’t end there for City, that win earnt them a home tie with, yet again, a Premier League side in Sunderland. Bradford breezed past their opponents 2-0 and ended up losing to Reading in a quarter-final replay against Championship side, Reading.
In the 2016/2017 season, Bradford came close to clinching promotion again when they faced Millwall in the playoff final, but a late goal denied City a place in the championship.
There has been ups and downs in the last ten years for the club, but constant support from their fan base and dedication from their players and staff have got them back challenging to climb the leagues and make a name for themselves in the biggest cup competitions in the country and if they keep progressing at the rate they are now, it won’t be long before they find themselves playing Premier League football.

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