Fifty years have now passed since Bradford (Park Avenue) were embarking on their final campaign in the Football League, to be voted out at the end of the season by the other member clubs following a fourth successive application for re-election.
The opening game against Aldershot at Park Avenue was won 2 – 0 but that turned out to be one of only six League victories that season. Another year spent propping up the rest of the League as the bottom-placed club proved to be one too many for a side which had once graced the First Division and rubbed shoulders with the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal.
In Bradford, the rivalry between Avenue and City was intense, coming to a head each derby day, of which there were 52 in total, with Avenue just edging them with 21 victories to City’s 20.
While all that remains of the original Park Avenue football stadium is part of the field, and terracing long since overgrown with vegetation. It was there that the final act was played out as Avenue spent three of those last four years entrenched at the bottom of the League. The ultimate penalty for having to seek re-election was administered in 1970 when Cambridge United obtained more votes at the annual meeting and took their place.
A new book soon to be published, ‘Diary of a Lost Cause – Bradford (Park Avenue) AFC 1966-1970’, records the final four years of the club in the Football League. Covering all the day to day news, match reports, statistics, analysis and opinion, it also contains substantial present-day interviews with personalities involved at the time. These include former Avenue player and Director of Football Terry Dolan, Kenny Hibbitt who had a very full playing career and became a legend at Wolverhampton Wanderers, Bobby Ham who served both Bradford clubs with distinction, and the late captain and manager Don McCalman, amongst many others. Each of these Avenue men have their own tale to tell which reveals an unfolding human story among all the strife.
Avenue supporter and author Jeremy Charnock has this to say about the five years he has spent diligently researching his subject: ‘Writing the book has been a thoroughly rewarding experience, not only in re-living season by season all the trials and tribulations, but in meeting and interviewing the many Avenue men who gave all they could in what was ultimately a lost cause. Their memories help to bring the period alive again and are the perfect compliment to the rest of the book. I hope readers will take pleasure in following these personal journeys and find the book a worthwhile tribute to the club, its staff and its supporters.’
A limited edition, it is available only through ordering in advance by the revised date of 30 September. To ensure you don’t miss this opportunity for an early Christmas present, for details email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to the author, Jeremy Charnock, at 22 Rylands Avenue, Bingley, West Yorkshire BD16 3NJ. Names of subscribers will be printed in each copy and a launch night is expected in November. The price of the book in hardback format is £25 (+£5 postage where applicable) for around 400 pages of nostalgia.
An earlier book on the club, ‘The Avenue – Bradford Park Avenue Pictorial History and Club Record’ by Malcolm Hartley and Tim Clapham was responsible for the enthusiasm which led to the present club being re-formed after the passage of fourteen years. Should the current book spark anything like a similar wave of interest, it could prove a shot in the arm as the club searches for the extra support needed to make the next step up the football pyramid.