Date: 20th June 2017 at 9:48am
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My previous article looked at some of our ex players and managers that have had a good year overall and highlight some of the good for this past season. So, where do I go on from there? 2016/17 is a season to forget for some ex Bantams, and for good reason, here is a selection of some sorry tales from this past season, but could anything be worse than relegation?

Colin Todd – Esbjerg fB
Colin Todd was quoted as saying that if we didn’t sack him, we wouldn’t have suffered relegation to the 4th division, and you know what? I think he was right, I felt it a rash decision at the time. So what of this season for Todd, has he been behind the scenes of a club close to home helping out, not exactly, he has been in Denmark managing Esbjerg fB, now at 68 years old and 20 years to the season after he won the 2nd division title with Bolton taking them up to the first division, the then fairly new rebranded Premiership, I feel Todd has long seen his best days. 2016/17 in the Danish Superliga, Todd was unable to get his team off the foot of the table and consequently sacked in December. If it is any consolation for Todd, the team went on to finish bottom and get relegated to the Danish 2nd tier.

Mark Stewart – Raith Rovers
The biggest mistake in the entire history of Bradford, and not just linked to the football club. A tribunal went in the favour of Falkirk and forced us to pay almost £1/4m for the signing of him, what turned out to be an expensive player turned out to be a crap expensive player. Raith Rovers finished 2nd bottom due to a worse goal difference than Dumbarton and therefore relegated, he may have contributed to Rovers getting relegated, but I am certain they didn’t pay a stupid sum for the pleasure. Stewart has recently signed for Dumbarton for the 2017/18 season. There are not many ex players I like to see struggle, but because of the circumstances when we signed him and to show how ridiculous and a farce tribunals can be, this is one player I will never lose sleep over no matter how bad his career goes. Hold your head in shame.

Gary Jones – Southport and on loan to Altrincham
Is there anything worse than relegation in a single season? Ask Gary Jones and I am sure he will swear at you. Jones has to be our most successful captain of recent times, it was only 4 years ago he played twice at Wembley, one of them in a major cup final, now fast forward the clock to 2016/17 and Jones is plying his trade in the Conference for Southport. The season proved challenging for the Sandgrounders propping up the table for a good part of the season, so a loan move to Altrincham may prove a bit more positive in the Northern Premier League, well to be honest, no it wasn’t. Jones wasn’t happy at finishing bottom of the pile just once this season with Southport, he has somehow managed to double the suffering finishing bottom with his parent club Southport AND Altrincham this season. So I ask again, is there anything worse than relegation in a single season? The answer is yes, two relegations.

Kyel Reid and Nathan Clarke – Coventry City
I was sorry to see Reid go 12 months ago as I will admit I am a fan of, same with Nathan Clarke, I felt he offered something to the squad, but a player I felt was at City at the wrong time and struggled to become first choice, shame as I highly rate Clarke. Reid came in for some pathetic stick from some of the Sky Blues supporters because he treated himself to a new car and took photos, there must be some unwritten law that I am unaware about that if your team are struggling, so should you in your private life. Clarke we palmed off onto Coventry in the January window, a deal that benefited both player and City. What is surprising, with the some of the players Coventry City had they suffered relegation quite easily, giving up the fight entirely towards the end finishing 11 points from safety. Coventry now join the small list of ex Prem clubs that have since played in the 4th division (or will do come August), the others are Bradford City, Portsmouth and Blackpool. It isn’t all doom and gloom for Reid, he did win the Football League Trophy at Wembley beating Oxford United 2-1 lasting the full 90 minutes.

Tom Cleverley – Watford (loan from Everton)
13 appearances for England, won the Premiership in 2013 with Man United, so a player used to winning things and fighting for things whilst playing with some of the best players around. So what of this season? Struggling at Everton, maybe his true quality exposed, sent out on loan to Watford, an experienced Cleverley found himself in a situation he is a bit unfamiliar with, in a relegation fight. Although Watford beat the drop finishing 6 points and 1 place above Hull, it is a far cry from turning out for the Red Devils and playing for the 3 Lions. Definitely a season to forget, but is this going to be a new trend for one of City’s most illustrious and successful youth players?

Scott Loach – York (loan from Notts County)
A young Loach we had on loan from Watford back in 2008, such was his impressive form, the faithful was singing Loach to play for England, he made 163 appearances for the Hornets and went on to play for some quality clubs such as Ipswich. In the past 5 years Loach has made 68 league starts at various clubs, and the past couple of seasons is even struggling to make the grade in the 4th division. What had made things worse, Scott was sent out on loan to York due to lack of game time. In his time at the Minstermen, Loach who is still in his 20s helped a recent league club get relegated from the Conference finishing 1 point from safety below Guiseley. Loach has only recently signed for relegated Hartlepool and will be plying his trade in the conference for 2017/18. Just of note, ex Bantam Matt Fry was part of the relegation team for York.

Nathan Doyle – released by Luton Town
Doyle has not played a game since December 2015 where Luton lost away to Peterborough in the FA Cup, this past season he has spent the entire campaign out injured with threats and support and last chances by his manager to prove his commitment to the club. In the January window the now 30 year old has been released by his club and now finds himself unattached. It really is a crying shame to see a player of his ability have his career cut short or put to the sidelines. It really is a loss for the football league if Doyle does decide to hang up his boots, a very unfitting end for one of our history makers.

Matthew Bates and Billy Paynter – Hartlepool United
Hartlepool’s 95 year stay in the football league has finally come to an end thanks in part to 2 ex Bantams. Bates has now spent 3 seasons at Victoria Park and Paynter 2 with the club narrowly avoiding relegation last season. A final day win over Doncaster Rovers wasn’t enough as Newport beat Notts Co. meaning the gap to safety remained at 2 points. It was a case of too little too late as the Pools managed 1 win in their last 9 games which included 6 losses compared to Newport’s 5 wins in their last 7 games. The good news for SKY sports pundit Jeff Stelling, he can still watch his beloved Hartlepool United on BT sports, something tells me it will be on his tablet under his desk while presenting SKY.

Scott Brown
Signed as a youngster from Clyde as one for the future, things didn’t exactly go to plan. After 3 appearances in the FA Cup Brown went back North of the Border, and this past season has been far from his best. Played for Peterhead in the Scottish League 1, they finished 2nd bottom qualifying for the Scottish League 2 play offs in which he scored in the 2nd leg of the final against Forfar. Peterhead lost the game 1-5 therefore getting relegated and being replaced by Forfar.

Reece Burke – Wigan Athletic (loan from West Ham)
Burke was very instrumental for us last season and one of the higher quality players to don the amber and claret in recent years. So what of 2016/17? A loan move to a higher division with newly promoted Wigan should prove a sterner challenge. Due to injuries, Burke only made 10 appearances for the Latics and with very little input was part of a side that was looking at certain relegation for the great part. 9 points off safety, only Rotherham proved to be a worse team than Athletic in the 2nd division. Just to mention, ex City loanee, Stephen Warnock signed from Derby last summer, played in 48 games this season, but was unable to prevent the drop to the 3rd tier. A season for both players to forget.

Which ex Bantams deserve a mention for 2016/17?

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