Capital One Cup: The return of romance in cup football
Bradford City’s Capital One Cup run has rekindled the romance of football. For Mike Harrison, editor of the Bradford City fanzine, The City Gent, the League Two club’s remarkable journey to the Capital One Cup final is a timely tonic for fans disillusioned by the ever-growing gulf between rich and poor.
Bradford’s thrilling exploits have captured the imagination of fans all over the country and provided compelling proof that even the most fantastic dreams can come true.
With the Premier League currently led by the three richest clubs in the country and with attention increasingly focused on the top division, Harrison admitted football has lost some of its romance, but he believes Bradford City’s feats will reassure fans at every lower league club that it is still possible to achieve incredible things.
“It has rekindled the romance many thought had been lost in the game,” said Harrison, who first published the City Gent Fanzine back in 1984. “It’s a timely boost for fans of small clubs across the country. It reminds us that you can dare to dream. These stories seemed to have disappeared, but while there will be some envy, I think most football fans are pleased for us because it gives every League Two, One and even Championships club hope. There is no logic in the side that beat Aston Villa in the semi-final lost 2-0 to Barnet a few days earlier.”
Bradford have been put into administration twice since their relegation from the Premier League in 2001 and have struggled to such an extent in the fourth tier that they were almost relegated to the Conference last season.
“There have been some tough times for Bradford over the last ten years or so,” added Harrison. They haven’t been an easy club to support for the die-hards like me. Our last major cup upset before this season was against Everton 16 years ago. We’ve been in League Two for six long years and suffered more than anyone since relegation from the Premier League.
“This amazing cup run makes up for that. We could never have imagined when we were 2-0 down to Burton with 20 minutes left to play in the First Round. After each round we’ve thought it can’t get any better than this, but it has done. They’ll talk about this cup run in 50 years and it so nice for the young fans who can’t remember us playing in the Premier League to experience something like this.”
While Bradford have enjoyed a remarkable run whereby they have claimed three Premiership scalps, this year’s Capital One Cup has seen other teams pull off dramatic giant-killings on a unprecedented level. Leeds United defeated Everton and Southampton in the competition, knocking out two Premier League sides. Swindon Town defeated Championship sides Brighton and Burnley, and also travelled to the Britannia for a historic victory over Stoke. It has been a remarkable season for giant-killings and the romance of the cup has been reignited. Bradford’s run sees them become the first fourth-tier team to reach the League Cup final in over 50 years – the last being Rochdale in 1962.
It remains to be seen whether they can go one further and lift the trophy at Wembley, but you certainly wouldn’t bet against them giving it a good shot.