Bradford (Park Avenue) have a fascinating history. Whilst their story isn’t shared as widely as perhaps it should be, it provokes intrigue from anyone fortunate enough to stumble across a supporter or article that explains the story.
The club have been represented by the first-ever footballer to receive the Victoria Cross, Donald Simpson Bell, the ‘Clown Prince’ Len Shackleton and former England manager Ron Greenwood. They have been watched by crowds in excess of 20,000 many times, and a remarkable 82,771 turned up to watch a 1-1 draw with Manchester United in the 1948/49 campaign.
For a club as steeped in history as Bradford are, landmark dates and anniversaries of significance come around often. The beginning of the 2018/19 season, however, marks an unforgettable anniversary that symbolises the great strides that the club has made.
Fourteen years after shareholders agreed to liquidate the company with debts of £57,652, the club was reformed and joined the West Riding County Amateur League. Although a Sunday side had been born out of the ashes of the original club, it disbanded shortly after Bradford reformed, and business was resumed.
This marked a new era for the club, and despite having to move out of Bradford to find facilities, the club remained resolute and continued to operate. A move to the Horsfall Stadium was eventually made and progress continued. Despite suffering successive relegations in 2005 and 2006, the club bounced back with promotions in 2008 and 2012.
The 2018/19 season will be Bradford’s seventh since their return to what is now known as the National League North, and the future has never looked brighter. In a division swamped with full-time sides and sizable budgets, manager Mark Bower recently guided the club to a 7th place finish, allowing Bradford to compete in the play-offs for the first time since their promotion to the division.
Despite falling to a 1-0 defeat to Brackley Town in the semi-finals, the evident potential in Bower’s side has given supporters a reason for optimism. Season ticket prices remain great value for money and the club recently made the momentous decision to adopt a modern version of the club’s former badge, whilst reinstating brackets to the club’s name. The move was described by CEO Rob Stanley as a case of ‘stepping back to move forward’ and the change is symbolic of yet another new era for Bradford.
Bradford (Park Avenue) are no longer just a football club. Despite no longer being known as a ‘community football club’, they remain one in spirit. The Horsfall College of Sport is now in full operation, ensuring that young people in Bradford have opportunities to better themselves and forge bright futures. Some prospects have already featured in the first-team as teenagers but the club’s providing of educational opportunities ensures that those who don’t are not left behind. The ‘BPA in the Community’ scheme works in tandem with the College, sharing its ethos of being more than a football club and being at the heart of the community. The team has a constant presence in Bradford, giving as many young people in Bradford the opportunity to be a part of the club as possible. Horsfall Stadium is called home but Bradford (Park Avenue) are wherever the city of Bradford and its young people need them to be. The club’s owner, Gareth Roberts, is keen to leave a legacy in Bradford and it is in the process of being established.
Bradford (Park Avenue) are providing a football team, community team and College that the city can be proud of.
Get yourself down to the Horsfall Stadium, opportunity awaits!
Season tickets: http://bpafc.com/supporters/season-tickets/
Horsfall College of Sport: http://bpafc.com/horsfall-college-of-sport/horsfall-college-of-sport/