The battle of Valley Parade


It’s not often Bradford make the national news but since Tuesday night we’ve certainly had our fair share of coverage, unfortunately for all the wrong reasons. As the full time whistle blew on Bradford’s latest defeat this time against Crawley Town the red mist descended and what followed was nothing short of remarkable. The pictures and footage which thousands of people witnessed would be more a kin with watching a royal rumble or a Friday fight night with Hayemakers reigning in all over the place.

It’s not fully clear what sparked the mass brawl, Crawley have a certain style and everyone is aware of what Steve Evans brings to the party. He’s like a jack in the box on the touchline, bellowing for absolutely everything. I can’t imagine he’s won many friends throughout his time in the football league. The five reds cards distributed after the final whistle matches previous records for dismissals in a domestic English league fixture.

The melee appeared to start when City’s centre half Andrew Davies who has collected two red cards already this season, reacted angrily to something, he charged at Crawley defender Claude Davis who clearly forearms Davies in the face quite aggressively but what follows was shameful from both clubs. Davies partner at the back Luke Oliver came steaming in and landed a right hook on Davis, as players traded blows City keeper Jon McLaughlin joined the party and started trading blows with Crawley’s Pablo Mills, who was giving as good as he got by throwing punches freely.

As the ref watched the chaos unfold, he duly noted down the offenders and subsequently sent the players off in the referee’s room after the match. Crawley saw Davis and Mills both receive red cards whilst Bradford received reds for Davies, Oliver and McLaughlin. Davies will receive a five match ban whilst the other two offenders for the bantams will receive three games. Both clubs will expect a heavy fine from the FA for failing to control their players along with other charges, yesterday the FA charged Pablo Mills with violent conduct and also charged fellow defender Kyle McFadzean. With the bantams struggling badly in recent weeks, the events on Tuesday night couldn’t have come at a worst time the club needs all hands on deck not sat in the stands unable to help the team.

On one hand the fact that McLaughlin and Oliver stuck up for Andrew Davies after he got hit is honourable but they over stepped the mark by a country mile. On the other hand all three could potentially cost Bradford their place in the football league next season, with City racking up defeats for fun in recent weeks it has left Bradford hovering dangerously close to the drop zone and now have to contend with missing three key players for a minimum of 3 and 5 games, which could quite easily be extended by the FA should they deem fit.

For the record Crawley won the game 2-1, but going forward will anyone look at this fixture and remember the score line?…I suspect not, it will be remembered just like the fixture between Sheffield United and West Brom for the mass brawl that brought shame on our national game.

On top of the suspensions fellow defender Marcel Seip has been ruled out for the season and left back Matt Fry is struggling with injury which will pile extra pressure on Phil Parkinson’s shoulders. Saturday’s fixture against fellow strugglers Plymouth is a huge game, as the club not only needs a win to keep clear daylight between themselves and the relegation zone but also to move on from the chaos of Tuesday night.

City need wins and quickly with a tough run-in starting against Plymouth, it is only hoped that what happened against Crawley will galvanise the squad to produce the goods on the pitch and ensure survival is reached. As the season reaches its climax, performances aren’t what it’s about its results and three points in the bag…without a doubt City have under-performed badly again this season which surprises me as Parkinson has signed some good players which on paper should do very well in League Two but for whatever reason it hasn’t happened and yet again for the second season running although this time around it is a lot closer than last, City find themselves stuck in a relegation battle.

Personally, I’m not overly enthusiastic with the gaffer but he should be judged on next season. Hopefully we will have stayed up and over the summer he can rebuild and try to mould a squad that he believes is good enough not only to survive but to be successful at the top end of the table. If once again City struggle then without a doubt he’ll come under pressure but for now I’m sure he has the backing of the majority of fans, who for the remaining games need to be the 12th man like they always are.

The City fans have endured dour season after dour season in recent times we deserve some success and the first part of that success can start with staying up!

Written by Mark Scully, We Are Going Up’s Bradford City Blogger

Mark tweets at @scully87

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