Sunday, 19 May 2013

It's Just Bantam

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 18 May 2013 at Wembley Stadium
Bradford City 3 Northampton Town 0
League Two Playoff Final
My sixteenth visit to the “new” Wembley and my first game for several weeks (due to work commitments!).  It is the second time I have sat among Bradford City supporters.  The last time was at the end of 2001-2 when I managed to suppress my elation at Igor Balis’ stoppage time penalty winner at Valley Parade as West Brom took a giant step towards a first season in the Premier League.
Pre-match preparation
Bradford City have had a remarkable season, reaching the League Cup Final (and losing to Swansea) and sneaking into the final playoff place.  Both they and Northampton beat higher-placed opponents in the playoff semi-finals.  Bradford may find their Wembley experience to be an advantage, though to be fair that’s what West Brom thought after their FA Cup Semi-Final as they went on to lose narrowly to Derby County at the end of 2006-7.
This match in one sentence
Bradford City nailed the win in the first half-hour and this was as close to a stroll in the park as you could get for a Wembley final.
So what?
Bradford City are promoted to League One.
The drama unfolds
I had chosen the highest-altitude ticket in the stadium and took my place in block 527 high above the half-way line.  Here’s a scene-setter clip taken during the early sparring.  Bradford are in gold and black, Northampton in maroon.  Both sides have half-chances and long throws from Northampton pose an early threat.

Bradford City took control of the game in the 15th minute.  An overhit cross from the left fell to Garry Thompson on the right of the penalty box and he chipped it intelligently back to the far post where James Hanson had a fairly simple header to open the scoring.  1-0 after 15 minutes

It was only another four minutes before something similar happened.  This time the overhit cross was driven to the near post from the right by Nathan Doyle, and this time Rory McArdle stole a yard of space and glanced a header home.  2-0 after 19 minutes

The game was effectively over as a contest before the half-hour mark.  Kyel Reid had acres of space for a left-wing cross which was headed back unselfishly across the 6-yard box by Thompson to Nahki Wells who finished easily.  3-0 after 28 minutes and at half-time

The second half was largely forgettable for the neutral.  Northampton keeper Lee Nicholls made a fingertip save to stop a fourth, and although there was plenty of effort.  I took another couple of clips as the party atmosphere grew to my left and the right side dispersed in disappointment.  The last one has Northampton's final chance for a consolation followed shortly by the final whistle.  Final score 3-0

The programme

Something random
For readers not paying attention to my Twitter feed, the reason for my absence from the groundhopping world for a month or so is a change of job.  I made a leap back into a full-time teaching position as Director of Science at a large comprehensive school in Hertfordshire, and so the work-life balance has been disturbed and has not yet reached a new position of equilibrium.  Ofsted turned up on my eighth day!  I will be back in the summer with a readjusted blog, probably with more tangents as I try to make sense of the world of education in England once again.  I have some stories to tell.
Hopping for Moorfields Update
188 goals in 54 matches and the 12th three-goal game of the season.  The day of reckoning is not too far away, sponsors – my enforced recent break means that the final value of each penny-a-goal pledge will be around the £2 mark.
Mars Bar Watch 2013
An utterly outrageous £1.20 for a standard 58g bar in the concession kiosks on Wembley Way.  I think they rioted for less provocation than this in 1789 in Paris, or was that marzipan? I’m not sure.  Earlier this week the Shell service station on Breakspear Way in Hemel Hempstead was running a special offer of 3 standard bars for £1.50.  Capitalism, eh?  Shell must be getting a backhander from the independent dentists.
What Next?
Off to Wembley again for Yeovil Town v Brentford on Sunday!

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