Bradford City FanZoner Lee Norton is still pinching himself after the Bantams fine start to the season.
Bantams building on cup heroics
Well it's the middle of November and unbelievably Bradford City are still in with a shout of the quadruple (League, FA Cup, League Cup & Johnstones Paint Trophy). Okay that might be a little bit ambitious but our cup form this season has been nothing short of tremendous.
I have a suspicion that we have a new penalty coach, who going on recent success, must be German. Tuesday nights FA Cup victory against Northampton was the eighth, yes EIGHTH penalty shoot out victory in a row. I've never known anything like it, I grew up hating penalty shoot outs after watching the England national side get knocked out of competition after competition. Now that dreaded phrase "... and the match will be settled by penalties" fills me with confidence, we're clinical from the spot.
I think the main difference is the mentality of the team, the confidence and the togetherness. They battle right up until the last second and never give up. I've talked before about the negative spiral, players playing poorly, not showing any fight, fans moan and groan, get on the players backs, players get more negative, end up playing worse. That has been the case at Valley Parade over recent years but now it's the opposite. The fight shown by the players lifts the crowd and that in turn lifts the players.
You can see this in the league games too as we've continued to pick up the points. We're currently in 4th spot just a few points of the automatic promotion places. The only concern is that the physio's treatment room seems to be getting a little crowded.
Both our first choice centre backs (Andrew Davies and Luke Oliver) are pretty much out for the rest of the season. Winger Kyel Reid has been out for a while Zavon Hines, James Meredith and Gary Jones all picked up injuries in the FA Cup tie. We've brought in a couple of loan players to try and fill the gaps and I wouldn't be too surprised to see a couple more new faces given the latest spate of injuries.
All in all though, our league form is looking very positive and the next couple of months are going to be crucial in ensuring that we go in to next year with a firm footing to be able to continue the push for promotion.
Going back to our cup success, I might as well mention the game in that other cup we're still in... a massive League Cup quarter final against the mighty Arsenal at Valley Parade. Finally, after years of poor cup draws we've got one that has this City going crazy, a money spinner, live on Sky Sports, that is undoubtedly the biggest game for this club in over 12 years.
Tickets for the game went on sale earlier this week. There were massive queues at the ticket office and 40 minute waiting times to buy tickets online. After just 8 hours the club had sold over 6,500 tickets, which goes to show just how much the fans have been waiting for a game like this.
Saying that however, I don't think any City fans expect much from the game but we have nothing to lose. Nobody expects us to do anything, Arsenal are expected to come to Bradford, field a reserve/youth side and still win comfortably. We're talking about a top Premier League side visiting a team that has been stuck in the basement division for years.
As long as we don't lose by double figures it'll be fine. But then you start thinking, what if? What if it did happen? What if we somehow managed to hold out and take the game to penalties? What if we continued our amazing shoot out run? This is football after all... and anything can happen, can't it?