The Glory Fades
The next three chapters take us through the inter-war years. These mark the gradual decline of Bradford City both financially and on the football field. At the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 the club was playing in the lowest tier of English professional football.
1 The Glory Fades - The 1920's
In 1922 City were relegated to Division Two and by 1927 the famous Cup winners had sunk into Division Three. Attendances slumped, leaving little in the coffers to reverse the slide. In response to a financial crisis in October 1927 the supporters organised a carnival and bazaar - as well as precious funds, it raised morale and over 10,000 copies of the handbook were sold.
record 128 goals. The following season back in Division Two was a struggle, though City survived by a single point, the renowned attack had only scored half the goals of the previous campaign and the defence was the worst in the division. The squad desperately required strengthening. Sadly, as the decade came to a close, iconic manager Peter O'Rourke resigned in frustration when the directors refused to sanction signings
2 Paradise Lost? - The 1930's
The result was a loss of goodwill with the supporters who condemned the club's lack of ambition. A reluctance to invest in the team when City were top of the division in 1933 was often cited as a glorious opportunity lost.
1937 was a bleak year for Bradford football. City were relegated to Division Three (North), the start of a 48-year exile in the lower divisions. Avenue had survived by the skin of their teeth, finishing one place and three points above relegated City.
A bold plan to break Bradford's footballing stagnation by merging City and Avenue and moving to a Continental style stadium at Odsal was rejected. Local pride was placated, but at what cost?
The 1939-40 season was only three games old when war broke out on Sunday 3rd September. One of these games was at New Brighton on August 30th when City lost 2-1. Four days later football was suspended by order of the government.
As war clouds gathered over Europe, humble dreams of success at Valley Parade were replaced by the nightmare of another World War.
3 The Fight for Survival - The 1940's
For much of the conflict Valley Parade was requisitioned by the Army. However, City had access on matchdays, but the games were little more than morale boosters for the civilian population. Avenue star - and City fan - Len Shackleton provided a rare highlight to wartime football. On Christmas Day 1940 he played for Avenue at Leeds in the morning, then turned out for City at Huddersfield in the afternoon - he even managed to score for his beloved Paraders
The Bradford derbies continued to draw the crowds; Avenue had managed to keep the bulk of their side together, whilst City's were scattered across the globe serving in the forces. As a result, the wartime derbies were often mis-matches - such as in December 1942 when City lost 10-0 at home to Avenue!
Former City player Ernest Tuckett was killed in 1943. The other losses were Alfred Keeling and Sidney Pugh who had 'guested' for City in wartime games.