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Opposition Profile: Bradford City

1 June 2017

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A new feature where we take a closer look at who Rovers will face in League One next season.

Bradford City
Founded: 1903 
Nickname: The Bantams
Formed in 1903, Bradford City were immediately elected into the Football League Second Division. It did not take long for the West Yorkshire club to taste success. Within five years, the Bantams had been promoted to the top tier and in 1911 they won the FA Cup. A 1-0 win thanks to a solitary Jimmy Speirs goal against Newcastle United in a replay handed Bradford City their only major honour to date. 
They were relegated from Division One in 1922 and would not return to the top flight for 77 years. In that time, City lifted the Football League Third Division North Cup in 1939, beating Rovers’ near neighbours Accrington Stanley 3-0 in the final.
In 1999, Bradford returned to the top flight under the guidance of former player Paul Jewell. Bolstered by the signings of Isaiah Rankin from Arsenal, former captain Stuart McCall and eventual top scorer Lee Mills from Port Vale, the Bantams mounted a promotion charge. Despite a poor start to the campaign, a 3-2 victory over Wolves in the final game of the season secured an automatic promotion spot and sparked rapturous scenes in West Yorkshire.
A David Wetherall goal on the final day of the 1999-2000 season gave Bradford City a surprise 1-0 victory over Liverpool, which secured Premier League survival. Jewell resigned that summer and despite the best efforts of his assistant Chris Hutchings and later Jim Jeffries, neither could retain the club’s top-flight status and they were relegated with just 26 points.
In 2013, City became only the second club from the fourth tier of English football to reach the League Cup final. The Bantams shocked three Premier League sides en route to the Wembley showcase – beating Wigan Athletic 4–2 on penalties in the fourth round, Arsenal 3–2 on penalties in the quarter-finals and Aston Villa 4–3 on aggregate over the two legs of the semi-final. They met Premier League side Swansea City in the final, but lost 5-0.
It would still prove to be a successful season for the West Yorkshire club as they returned to Wembley just three months later and defeated Northampton Town 3–0 in the League Two play-off final to secure a place in League One for 2013–14, where they have remained to this day. 
The Manager: Stuart McCall
Leeds-born McCall began his career with Bradford City in 1980, joining the club's youth system at the age of 16. The tireless midfielder would go on to captain the side and make 285 appearances, scoring 46 goals, in his first spell with club. 
McCall would make the switch to Everton in 1988, before a move across the border to his parents’ native Scotland in 1991 saw him sign for Rangers for £1.2m.
A fruitful spell with the Scottish giants saw the midfielder win six successive Scottish Premier Division titles, three Scottish Cups, two Scottish League cups and represent Scotland 40 times, before moving back to his beloved Bantams in 1998 and helping them to secure promotion to the Premier League.
McCall briefly took the managerial reigns at Bradford City as he became caretaker following the dismissal of Chris Hutchings, before finishing his playing career at Sheffield United. 
The Scotsman would begin his full-time managerial career in 2007 back where his playing days had begun, following Bradford City’s relegation to League Two. However, McCall failed to guide the Bantams to promotion during his three-year tenure and left the club in 2010.
He would take the helm at SPL side Motherwell, guiding them to a third-place finish and the club’s first appearance in the Champions League qualifying stages, in which they were knocked out at the hands of Greek side Panathinaikos. 
McCall resigned in 2014 and soon returned to former club Rangers. He guided the Gers to a third-place finish in the 2014–15 Scottish Championship, but they were beaten in the Scottish Premiership play-off final 6–1 on aggregate to another former club, Motherwell.
After Rangers opted to appoint Mark Warburton as manager following the play-off defeat, the Bradford City legend returned to the West Yorkshire club, taking over from Phil Parkinson last summer.
The Ground: Valley Parade
Valley Parade remains Bradford City’s only permanent home, having occupied the ground since the club's inception in 1903 and has a current capacity of 25,136.
On May 11th 1985, Valley Parade was the scene of a fatal fire, during which 56 supporters lost their lives and at least 265 were injured. The game was the final match of the 1984–85 season, before which City were presented with the Division Three championship trophy. The fire destroyed the main stand in just nine minutes. 
The Bantams played their home games at Odsal Stadium, a rugby league ground in Bradford, Elland Road, Leeds, and Leeds Road, the former home of Huddersfield Town, until December 1986, while Valley Parade was redeveloped.
Last Season: 5th, League One
Bradford City have reached the play-offs after finishing fifth in League One for the past two seasons.
Stuart McCall took the helm at Valley Parade for his third stint in charge following the departure of the popular Phil Parkinson to newly-relegated Bolton Wanderers last summer.
He matched the achievements of his predecessor and went one step further as the West Yorkshire club reached the League One play-off final.
However, lightning struck twice for McCall’s men, as they were narrowly beaten 1-0 by Millwall, who were also victorious over the Bantams in the previous season's play-off semi-final.
Last Meeting: April 14th 1990
The last competitive meeting between the two sides ended in a 1-0 victory for Rovers at Valley Parade in 1990. 
A Gavin Oliver own goal separated the two teams, as Rovers reached the play-offs, whilst the Bantams were relegated from Division Two.
The clubs also played out a goalless draw in a pre-season friendly in the summer of 2014 at Valley Parade.

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