Valley Parade ground
Name: Valley Parade ground
Description: Valley Parade ground
Collection: Bradford City
Contributor: West Yorkshire Archive Service
Rights: West Yorkshire Archive Service
This page summarises the fascinating history of the football club.

Bradford City football club started out in life in 1880 as the Manningham Rugby Club (from the disbanded Manningham Albion Club). The club first played at the Carlisle Road ground up until 1884 when its home became Valley Parade. The team strip in 1880 was black and white but changed on 20th September 1884 to the famous claret and amber colours.

The club as it is known today was officially established on 25th May 1903. With a breakaway of Manningham into the formation of the Rugby League in 1895 and a need for a bigger presence of football in the West Riding, Bradford Observer sub-editor James Whyte was a driving force in creating a new club for its supporters. Within just five years, Bradford City had been promoted to the top Division One. The run-up to the First World War saw the team fight to stay at the top, even propping up their concussed goalkeeper whilst defending against Manchester United, and then achieve their most successful season to date in 1911 - the club won the FA and finished fifth in the league.

The decades following the First World War were unfortunately not as successful as the previous twenty years. By 1927, Bradford City had dropped to the Division Three, rising again to the top flight in 1933 but only to fall back down again by 1937. The club developed a reputation of selling many of its valuable players and wasting its opportunity in the Division One. By the end of the 1940s, having spared a significant number of the team to fighting across the globe, Bradford City finished bottom of Division Three - a humbling result.

It seems that this was a sign of things to come, although not forgetting the huge achievements of reaching the fourth and fifth rounds of the FA Cup 1958-1960. The 1960s were a decade that saw the club finish right at the bottom of the English League, chairman Grenville Hair collapse and die during a training session and the last derby with local rivals Park Avenue.

By the time the 1980s came around, there was to be a change in the club's fortunes. A staggering victory over European Champions Liverpool in a Cup match greatly boosted morale, despite City losing at Anfield in the second leg. Having escaped a financial crisis in 1983, Bradford City returned to Division Two after a 48-year absence at the end of the 1984/1985 season. This momentous turning point would have been celebrated widely had it not been for the massive tragedy of the fire that engulfed Valley Parade on 11th May 1985. 56 people lost their lives that day and 265 were injured (please see Valley Parade page for more information).

In the years following the fire, the club miraculously fought to stay mid-table in Division Two despite having to play their home games at Huddersfield, Leeds and Odsal. By 1997, Bradford City were back in Division One. It is certainly an era that the club are quite rightly very proud of and that the supporters will think of with great fondness, achieving the unbelievable in such times of adversity.

Bradford City currently play in the Second Division (the old Division Four) having enjoyed several years in the Premier League (the old Division One) around the Millennium. It is not known what the future holds for the club but what is clear is how well loved and respected it is in Bradford and beyond.