Has there been any other lower league side that have managed to match the number of cup upsets that Bradford have achieved in the past decade?
The Bantams kicked off their heroics in the 2012/13 season by beating Arsenal and then Aston Villa to become the first side from the fourth tier of English football to reach the League Cup final in 51 years. Despite being thrashed 5-0 by Swansea City at Wembley Stadium, Phil Parkinson’s side used the result as a driving factor to achieve promotion, which they achieved via the play-offs at the end of the campaign.
A moment in time – Bradford City vs Chelsea, 2015
A poor showing in the knock-out competitions upon their return to League One saw Bradford fail to make it past the first round in both the FA Cup and the League Cup yet a year later, they were back to their old ways, but this time it was to occur in the former rather than the latter.
Parkinson’s side recorded no fewer than three giant killings on their way to the quarter-finals yet one, in particular, stands out from the rest. After defeating Millwall in the third round of the FA Cup, the Bantams faced a daunting trip to Chelsea who were on their way to securing a double under the guidance of Jose Mourinho in 2015.
The Blues initially cruised into a two-goal lead courtesy of strikes from Ramires and Gary Cahill and must have thought that they were heading for the fifth round. Bradford forward Jon Stead, however, had other ideas, firing in from 18-yards just before half-time to give his side hope. What followed was one of the most extraordinary halves in recent FA Cup history.
Filipe Morais equalised for the Bantams before Andy Halliday put them in-front at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea’s attempts of salvaging a replay saw them leave gaps in defence which were eventually exploited by Mark Yates who added a fourth for the League One side, completing a famous victory. Bradford went on to beat Sunderland in the next round before eventually succumbing to a 3-0 defeat to Reading in a replay of their quarter-final tie.
However, despite earning considerable TV revenue to complement the £180,000 in prize money from their FA Cup exploits (via the BBC), the Bantams failed to capitalise on the momentum gained over the next two seasons as they lost in the play-offs on both occasions after securing back-to-back fifth-placed finishes in the third tier.
The departure of Parkinson to Bolton in 2016 saw a downfall in the club’s fortunes which has ultimately culminated in the position that they currently find themselves in.
Bottom of League One and edging ever closer to relegation this season, their heroics in the world’s oldest domestic cup competition have been replaced by concern over the club’s future.
By beating Chelsea in 2015, the Bantams were given a golden opportunity to kick on as a club yet a myriad of issues has led to them instead to move backwards, creating an understandable level of concern amongst their supporters.