Sixer’s Bradford City Soapbox: Bantams powerless to stop 10 man Sunderland

Malcolm Dawson writes…..there is an air of quiet satisfaction floating around Sixsmith Towers this morning, as the staff quietly go about their duties, secure in the knowledge that their young master is full of the joys of the season following his charabanc trip yesterday and with the prospect of Toronto Wolfpack and Featherstone Rovers, both in action later today to keep him occupied.

Following his civic duties, bringing the news of the day to the good folk of Shildon, but before his Sunday morning breakfast of kedgeree, devilled kidneys and chitterlings Peter Sixsmith found time to dash off his account of proceedings in what was an eventful day in West Yorkshire.

The man himself


My age-old newspaper reading habits have taken a knock recently. The Northern Echo is a mere shadow of its former self and is often finished before my bowl of porridge and round of toast have been devoured, while The Guardian Sports section is full of the usual Premier League guff so it is largely ignored.

On Saturday, while cruising down the A1 and after having avoided pieces on Jose Mourinho and how difficult it is spending money like water and then dropping the players that money has been spent on, how a new Arsenal are evolving at Ashburton Grove and the trials and tribulations of Tottenham at Wembley (all to be repeated ad infinitum), it was a pleasure to read about how Jack Ross has settled into the job at Sunderland and how, every time that we win, an anonymous Sunderland supporter donates a goat to a charity that distributes them to villages in Africa – or maybe Eldon Lane.

Who said you’ll win nothing with kids?

After a thrilling game at Valley Parade, the African goat population has increased by one and, if the season continues in this vein, there will be a surfeit of goats in villages and the locals will be urging the donor to send PlayStations instead.

This was the proverbial hard-fought win. We went in 1 up at half time, never looked in trouble, conceded a poor equaliser, retook the lead within two minutes, saw our new captain give away a penalty and get sent off, watched as the penalty was saved, comfortably survived an aerial bombardment not seen at Valley Parade since the days of Ian Ormondroyd before we closed the game out while witnessing a brawl that was more in keeping with the original use of the ground as a rugby league venue. No wonder the coach travellers slept on the way home; we were knackered.

The first half was another example of how Ross would like us to play. The ball was knocked about, forcing the City players to chase and harry and use up lots of energy while we passed and passed. At times we stretched their defence and chances were missed although the referee did not pass up his chance to book Cattermole with a mere ten minutes on the clock.

It was for an innocuous foul, one which other players would have got away with (and did) but it seems that there is a policy amongst the lower league referees of “let’s see how early we can book Cattermole.”

He now had to play 80 minutes without one false move, something which he accomplished with considerable aplomb and made some of us believe that the earlier the yellow card for Cattermole, the more effective he is because he has to concentrate on his game and not do anything silly.

Finding new ways to score

He contributed to the opening goal with a fierce shot which was going fractionally wide until Maja turned it in as it brushed past his left kidney. The Goat Shop were preparing the next departure to Africa by half time as we controlled the game and Bradford’s huffing and puffing barely disturbed anxiety levels amongst the 2,900 who had made the trip.

The second half was a different experience and the goat looked as if it might be staying in the UK when we failed to defend a long throw and O’Connor hooked the ball into the net. However, its passport was out again two minutes later when the ball bounced around in the box and Jack Baldwin opened his account for the club with a firm shot.

In the next ten minutes we could have wrapped the game up and the goat could have caught an earlier boat. Max Power had a shot well saved by O’Donnell and Tom Flanagan (who formed a very effective central defensive partnership with Baldwin) had a header pushed over.

It all changed in the 66th minute when Power was sent off. Being at the other end and thinking of the goat saying its goodbyes, I did not see what had prompted the newly appointed skipper to kick out at Jack Payne. But I did see the kick and the subsequent red card for Power who will have now missed more games through suspension than he has played. I foresee an anger management course for him before he returns and he may not get his place back if we continue to purge the national goat herd.

West Yorkshire Police not licensed for this fixture! (The sign reads “Sorry no alcohol at this kiosk.”)

Up stepped Payne, the protagonist in the Power situation, to take the penalty. He is a confident, nay cocky, youngster, but he was not good enough to beat the Magnificent McLaughlin, who pulled off a tremendous save or the Fantastic Flanagan, whose tackle as Payne lined up to slot home the rebound was as good as the original save.

Maja was replaced by McGeouch and we proceeded to give an almost master class in game management. The ball was retained when we needed to and despatched to the other end of the field when that was necessary. Honeyman came on for McGeady and his running and energy played an important part in preventing a limited home side from putting any real pressure on us.

When he signed for us, some supporters were distinctly underwhelmed by Chris Maguire, claiming that a man who had flopped at Bury was not for us. He has shown that if he is on the right stage, he is a match winner. That turn against Peterborough where he set up Sinclair was a as good as anything I have seen since the halcyon days of Johnson and Summerbee and today, he made sure that the sting was taken out of City by holding the ball up, winning free kicks and generally winding up players who were unsure of how to handle him. He is enjoying being at Sunderland and we are enjoying watching him.

Both full backs did well. Matthews has formed a good partnership with Maguire and gets forward well while Reece James, now third choice in that position, was targeted by Bradford and Sean Scannell in particular, never missed an important tackle and did really well.

Always a sad reminder

In fact, there were no weak links in this team. All worked hard, none more so than Lee Cattermole, who won umpteen headers and tackles and was always there to fill a gap, pass a ball and generally wear down the opposition. I gather he is happy at Sunderland but the size of his wage packet and the length of his contract may be a factor in any possible transfers to a higher division.

After Mr. Backhouse had added on seven minutes and Ross showed his tactical acumen by sending on Ozturk to bolster the defence, the final whistle went and, at a certain goat farm somewhere in England, a Ms. N. Goat was shaking hooves with her friends and hugging her family as she began the long trek to Africa. Her final words were “Don’t worry. We won’t be apart for long. I can see another 25 of you joining me before the first week in May. Ha’way the Goats.”

My journey home was a pleasant one. All on the coach behaved, there was good conversation and the icing on the cake came as the we paused at the traffic lights at Thinford and Alexis Sanchez scored the winner at Old Trafford.

No goats for the black and whites then………

11 thoughts on “Sixer’s Bradford City Soapbox: Bantams powerless to stop 10 man Sunderland”

  1. Have to say thank you to Peter Sixsmith
    for enriching the start of my day and to all the contributors
    for an excellent read and discussion .Tbat’s it .

  2. I think we are just going to have to accept that all refs in this league are atrocious. However, SAFC players like Max Power should know better how bad they are in this league. Still I thought it funny that Bradford’s No. 22 was allowed to kick Sinclair up the jacksy, foul given, yet no card red or yellow. Bizarre.

  3. Just to add a bit about the ref (again!) On the Coote Refereeing Accuracy Performance Indicator (coote ==0%) I reckon he rated between 20-30%. After booking Cattermole in a non-threatening position within a minute he was excusing a Bradford defender as he prevented Maja bursting into the box. He seemed to allow free-kicks and throw-ins to be taken from where the player chose. But we won anyway and as for thinking the abysmal Mr.Coote would face some kind of punishment for Tuesday’s debacle, he in fact refereed the Norwich v Stoke game, so presumably the assessor felt his performance was OK Support once again magnificent and when the rest of the results were known it felt like a major turning point for the season. I hope so anyway. A friend of a friend and City season ticket holder said that was the best City’d played all season.

  4. Not convinced about some of our ‘wonderful’ support. 3 or 4 young lads near me were constantly swearing at Maja, despite the fact that he was better at holding the ball up than recently, They forget he is a teenager and still learning every week. yes, he gives the ball away more than he should but he has 9 in 12 games and is improving other aspects of his game. We were near the touchline and I have no doubt he could hear the abuse at times. That is not going to help. As for the moron who decided that it was funny to shout at Ruiter ‘that’s why he isn’t in the team, he is shit’ when McGeoch misplaced a pass during the half-time subs warm-up, I hope he never comes to a game again.
    The vast majority are excellent but we don’t half have some idiots.
    The position we were in near the touchline was very different to what I am used to and we felt really involved particularly when we scored the second and the whole team celebrated right in front of us. It also gave us a chance to see Chris Maguire close up for the last 20 minutes when he was simply magnificent. I saw a tweet last night along the lines of ‘Dear League 1, we have Chris Maguire, you don’t’. Spot on.
    Finally stopped for fantastic Fish and Chips on the way back at Murgatroyds. Joined by a group of lads in a minibus who had managed to get hold of the matchball and decided to have a kick about by the main road. Nice end to a good day.

  5. Not to denigrate Lee Cattermole one bit but, given his age, I wonder how attractive he’d be to a higher-division club? Especially looking at our prospects of promotion back to the Championshop next year. If he’s happy at Sunderland – and his productivity certainly indicates that – then presumably he’s happy enough with his money, too. I certainly hope so. I wouldn’t want to see a parting of the ways any time soon. What I would like to see is referees giving him more of the benefit of the doubt. And maybe the captain’s armband back.
    Oh, and that goat-donation idea is brilliant. If they ARE going to Eldon Lane maybe there’s a part-time goatherding job available for Sixer.

  6. Another very entertaining read. We still have problems with set pieces, with red cards and with Catts receiving yellows.

    The winning nothing with kids had me chuckling.

  7. I watched with a mate who is a Villa fan amongst the home supporters in the opposite corner to the Safc fans. It was enjoyable. Catts was my MotM. We were the better team however BCFC had some good moments. Both reds were harsh.

    Loved the home fans version of Anarchy in The UK. Didn’t love the tom tom drumming. Saw Kevin Ball having pics taken with Safc fans unadorned with red n white…..or they could have been KGB on holiday…we all looked suspicious without team colours. I reckon another 200 Safc fans were in amongst the Bantams. All v good humoured. City like us have suffered. They have sold more season tickets this year than last. 19000 is a good crowd in the 3rd Division. I wish them well…but still glad we won

  8. Pleased that Matthews and James both had solid games and that Ozturk and Honeyman too added extra energy and solidity when they came on. They have been easy targets for those who get some sort of pleasure out of publicly berating specific individuals and focusing on perceived (and often imaginary) negatives.

    All players are going to make the odd mistake but I suppose it’s too much to expect some people not to be vocal in their criticism and just to jump on the negative bandwagon as far as some players are concerned.

    It’s a bit much though when the Echo starts publishing headlines such as “80% of supporters don’t want this player in the team” based on a few tweets from these negative types.

    At the risk of being labelled a Jack Ross sycophant I love the way this group of players is all pulling together and the delight they have in sharing their successes with the fans.

    Not only is this team working their socks off but at times they are also producing some of the best football we have seen for almost 20 years.

    With a bit more consistency, a bit more self control and continued hard work on the training ground to cut down the defensive errors we will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.

  9. My first away game of the season. It was precisely as you describe it. I know our support has been praised before but it needs repeating that the positive noise they made after we went down to ten men really helped though why they wasted even one breath on “Your support is f…… s…” I don’t know.

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