Bradford long for happy end to fairytale Cup run
By Sonia Oxley ,ReutersBRADFORD, England -- An excited youngster stocked up on flags for his Wembley trip and the players spoke of fairytales as Bradford City prepared for the last chapter in a giant-killing run that has lifted the gloom around the club.
February 21, 2013, 12:04 am TWN
A fourth-tier team featuring a former supermarket shelf-stacker, a cancer survivor and players released by top clubs are hoping to beat a Premier League outfit for the fourth time this season when Bradford take on Swansea City in Sunday's League Cup final.
“It's going to be the biggest game we've played in our lives,” right back Stephen Darby told Reuters on Tuesday.
“Over the last few years the football club hasn't had a lot to shout about but it's going to be a massive day for everyone, it's great for Bradford City and the people of Bradford.”
The Bantams are the first fourth-tier side to reach a major English cup final for 51 years and will be making only their second Wembley appearance — the previous one being the 1996 third-tier playoff final.
After several miserable seasons since relegation from the Premier League in 2001, including two spells in administration, the feat of a fourth-tier team beating Arsenal, Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa en route to Wembley is the stuff of dreams.
The club, whose only major silverware is the 1911 FA Cup, is also probably best known for tragedy rather than glory after a 1985 fire at its Valley Parade ground killed 56 fans.
It is not just the football club that has lived under black clouds. The West Yorkshire city has been harder hit than many by the economic downturn, it has higher-than average crime rates and is also still remembered for race riots in 2001.
“Bradford is known for bad things like riots. There are no shops, there's a lot of negative,” fan Julia North said after giving her 12-year-old son Liam money to get the club's claret and amber flags.
“It's great there's now something positive.”