Bradford City, a venerable third-tier English club with a history touched by tragedy, were 'living the dream' on Sunday after...
Bradford City, a venerable third-tier English club with a history touched by tragedy, were “living the dream” on Sunday after knocking out another Premier League victim, this time Sunderland, and powering into the FA Cup quarter-finals.
The Yorkshire club, whose indomitable spirit has never been extinguished in hard times over the 30 years since a fire at their stadium claimed 56 lives, wrote a new, uplifting tale at Valley Parade as they defeated Sunderland 2-0.
On the eve of the game, Bradford manager Phil Parkinson had said his League One side, perpetrators of one of the Cup’s greatest upsets by winning 4-2 at Jose Mourinho’s impregnable Chelsea fortress in the previous round, had saved the FA Cup by rekindling its romance and unpredictability.
Even though England’s TV broadcasters had absurdly chosen not to screen the latest chapter of the fairytale live — a decision which left their fans chanting gleefully “Are you watching BBC?” — all eyes will now be on little Bradford as they are just 90 minutes from a semi-final at Wembley.
“With the form we’re in at the moment we’ll take anyone at home (in the sixth round),” ecstatic goalkeeper Ben Williams told the BBC as a crowd of 24,021, the biggest at Valley Parade for more than half a century, celebrated uproariously.
“We’re just living the dream at the moment.”
With Arsenal and Liverpool already through and Manchester United, who visit Preston North End on Monday, favoured to also make the last eight, none of these aristocrats would savour a visit to a muddy bear trap to tackle a team which again belied its ninth place in League One with some quality football.
Nor will they fancy running into Jon Stead who, keeping up his record of scoring in the each of the previous four rounds of the Cup, scored the decisive second just after the hour, following John O’Shea’s third minute own goal.
As against Chelsea, this was no fluke. Bradford can win on carpets or quagmires.
“We have kept that underdog spirit,” said Parkinson. “It was a good, old-fashioned cup tie, a really good advert for the FA Cup.”
Bradford, still collecting big scalps having accounted for Wigan Athletic, Arsenal and Aston Villa in cup competitions over the last three years, keep doing more than anyone to keep alive the traditions of the world’s greatest domestic Cup competition.