Its always been said that football supporters are the unofficial 12th man of any club. Providing an atmosphere to thrive in, giving players that much needed motivation to go the extra mile and offering an everlasting identity.
But this season’s Capital One Cup has given a stark reminder as to the importance of supporters and the crucial role they play in the success of a club. Bradford City will lay testament to that as they prepare to contest a semi-final against Premier League giants Aston Villa.
The Bantams barmy army have followed their beloved team to Notts County, Watford and Wigan in the cup this season and watched them come away victorious on each occasion. When at Valley Parade the noise generated by the 25,000 screaming Bradfordian’s has been intimidating enough to knock Arsenal off their kilter in that unforgettable semi-final triumph that those orange and maroon-wearing disciples will treasure until the day they are laid to rest.
For all the glitz and glamour of the cup the Bradford fans have supplied the customary spatter of romance. It’s almost become a time-honoured tradition for a lower league club to upset the odds, capture the heart of the nation and taking on a legion of neutral fans pitching for them to topple the soulless, money orientated top-flight monsters.
In no uncertain terms the Bradford supporters represent the salt of the football earth in this season’s competition. The essence of what it means to be an underdog. Through thick and think they’ve been an unrelenting charm to their side, a source of strength and inspiration for players to draw upon when the moral meter is running out of juice. They’re there to top it up and spur their heroes to hit new heights.
Amongst the four remaining teams, they’re purely along for the ride, the thrills, just as they have been as they’ve successfully transcended each and every round. In their heart of hearts they know the trophy is well out of their reach. But they’ll never admit it. They’ve never conceded defeat even when forced to sit through a mentally gruelling penalty shootout at Wigan and nail biting spot kick lottery against the Gunners. They’ve never looked down and muttered ‘this is it’.
On both occasions their rally cries, clapping and unabated positivity has been the common denominator. Each and every time they’ve roared their team to success and they’ll continue to do so until their throat is hoarse and hands are bleeding. It’s the kind of unequivocal support many clubs wish they could drum up. Such a valiant effort deserves commendation and, while the players will be the ones to take the plaudits, Bradford’s loyal patrons merit some serious praise for their role in propelling the club to implausible heights. And there is no doubt they will continue to do so until their final League Cup breath and beyond.