Bobby Olejnik cuts a lonely yet bright figure.
A few days after the derbyshire trip I had another trek up the M1 to Bradford for the game against Torquay. I hadn’t made it up their before with the mighty yellows. Bradford were only charging a fiver to get in. So I picked JB up from his den of pornography in Crouch End and we headed up the motorway. We left it a bit late and then started to hit traffic in the usual places. Things were getting a bit tight time wise. Another new motorway for me. I’ve never been on the M606 before. A quick zoom into the centre of Bradford which gave me the same lack of thrill when I saw Leicester for the first time all of those years ago. Grey miserable skies with drab stone buildings and decaying 1960s concrete structures that aren’t even remotely of note.
We pulled up to the ground after getting the first glimpse of it from the retail park below. The wrong side of the valley after the Tom Tom suffered yet more brain fade and tried steering us through the German Quarter. The Valley Parade, from below is a rather impressive structure even with Tesco in the foreground and murky, horrible weather doing it’s level best to mask it. After an extra bit of traffic I did a left into Queen’s Road and then another into Manningham Lane. I tried parking down several streets but had no joy. I then found myself stuck in traffic with ten minutes to go in the infamous Lumb Lane. Band of Gold, Samantha Morton and a cut price £3.75 for a wank. I pulled off the Lane into yet more traffic. 6 mins til kick off and then finally found a car park a good 5 minutes walk uphill to the ground.
We got there at 5 minutes past. A good 5 minutes for my ample frame is more like 8 or 9 minutes. JB striding ahead like Patrick Viera and me knackering myself out before we took our seats.
The Valley Parade. A mish mash of different styles.
The ground certainly is one of the more impressive grounds you can visit in the football leagues basement division and would still look impressive enough the Championship or even the Premier League. As it currently stands Bradford have little hope of getting back there anytime soon. They’ve been on a downward spiral ever since the days of Benito Carbone. Their crowds are high only because of artificially low season ticket price and match day tickets (we payed a fiver). Word has it that the upkeep of the Valley Parade is crippling the clubs finances and they are looking to move to a more sustainable stadium. A ground share with Park Avenue would perhaps make more sense than another spell at Odsal.
So onto the game. Two sides short on confidence, skill and application. 0-0 and destined surely to stay that way. Then the turning point. Torquay’s tiny winger, Danny Stevens received a firm pass before displaying the first touch of a rhinoceros and inducing a two footed lunge from the Bradford right back. The referee ran over and after little deliberation showed the red card. Boos from the sizeable home crowd rained down. Seasoned football fans will know that a sending off affects the team who are down to ten men in one of two ways. They either capitulate meekly or the sending off galvanises them and they play like 300 spartans. Unfortunately for Torquay it was the latter.
It’s hard work keeping your spirits up in games like these. Torquay mounted a bit of pressure. Bradford soaked it all up and then looked very dangerous on the break. They scored a cracking goal and then defended like wounded animals. Torquay looked short of skill, tactics and confidence.
Mutterings from the usual idiots started. The usual Football Manager types started offering helpful hints and strategies. Personally I would have done what I did with Alpay when I had him at Aston Villa. I shoved him in the reserves, stopped his training and fined the clueless lippy shite every two weeks.
Instead of losing my rag and venting spleen I choose to focus on something trivial instead. Like, why the fuck do Bradford City have traffic lights on their floodlight pylons? Is it something like the scene in the Rick Moranis film Strange Brew? Or is it a tribute to the Def Con meter in War Games?
Traffic Lights on the floodlight pylons?
Thankfully the referee blew up on time and put us out of our collective misery. The highlight of the day being Pie and Chips from the world’s best chippy. The North Sea Fish Bar in Chesterfield (near the new Chesterfield ground) is unparalleled in it’s excellence. I think the haddock is harpooned by Japanese Whaling ships rather than being “line caught”. Myself and JB scoffed our tasty haul in a lay-by on the main Chesterfield to Mansfield road. I almost lost my pie when a National Express coach thundered past at 70mph and the steak pie almost got sucked off the dashboard of the mazda by the turbulence.
Michelin Star deserving North Sea Fish Bar in Chesterfield. Order large chips at your peril.