Date: 19th June 2017 at 10:07am
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Players we have, players we’ve had, we all have our favourites and bang on about how good our idols are, or that some fringe players were never given a chance. The proof is in the pudding after their Valley Parade career and the path they choose. Some of our best players struggle even in none league, some of our ex players that were never given a chance have moved onto bigger and better things, so in a 2 part series, let’s look today at some ex City players and managers and see who will look back at 2016/17 with a smile.

Bradley Jones – Feyenoord Rotterdam
Who would have thought it? I thought Jones was one of the worst keepers we have had in recent memory, but I am so chuffed for him to go to a massive club and go on to win the Eredivisie. What a fantastic achievement and goes to show we didn’t see what Jones was capable of at Valley Parade for whatever reason. Unbeaten at home in the league (sound familiar) and winning the title by a single point. Champions league football next season.

Andre Wisdom – FC Redbull Salzburg (loan from Liverpool)
Sent out on a season long loan to FC Redbull Salzburg, young Wisdom has won a bit of silverware, winning both the Austrian Football Bundesliga and the Austrian Cup gifting young Andre his first titles and trophies at senior level. The league was a canter finishing 18 points ahead of Austria Wien. The cup final ended FC Redbull Salzburg beating SK Rapid Wien 2-1.

Michael Flynn – Newport County
The Welshman went to Newport South Wales to assist a friend, what transpired, 2016/17 was turning out to be a horrid season for the Exiles, as it was looking like the Welsh club might be exiled from the league. Flynn took over as caretaker and results soon improved which encouraged the owners to give the position to Flynn permanently. It was looking certain, the doom and bloom of getting kicked out of the league for not being good enough. Michael did an amazing job in turning the club around and avoiding relegation and has to be up there this season in managerial accomplishments. Did you know ex City chief Lennie Lawrence is the first team management consultant at the Exiles?

Billy Knott – Lincoln City (loan from Gillingham)
This past season wasn’t anything to write home about for Knott, well the first half anyway, but come February Billy was sent out on loan to Lincoln City. 13 games for Lincoln yielded 1 sending off, 1 goal, 1 loss and most importantly, automatic promotion to the 4th division winning the Conference title.

Nahki Wells – Huddersfield Town
Before the start of this season, Wells has played in the 2nd-4th divisions in the English game, least forgetting a spell in none league, already has 2 games under his belt at Wembley which includes a win in a play off final. This past month, Wells has finally realised his dream, a shot at the Premiership. He may not have been as prolific in front of goal as we’d expect from Nahki, netting 10 times in 47 games, but Wells has got another Play off final winners medal and a chance now at the promised land come August.

Simon Francis – Bournemouth
Going on 15 years I still moan that Francis isn’t still playing in the amber and claret, young Simon was one of the better youth players we have developed and bled into the squad, unbelievably now he is 32, time sure flies. 99% of City fans will not realise the ex youth player is plying his trade in the Premiership or that he was one of the few good things in those dark days just after the millennium. This season, Francis helped Bournemouth to finish in the top 9 in the English game, as a player this is his highest league finish.

Mark Bower – Bradford Park Avenue
Bower has had quite a bit of success in recent years in none league, but his exploits this season caught my eye. Mark entered management with Guiseley and got them promoted to the National Conference. This season started, he lost his first 5 games, got sacked, so why am I including him on here you may ask? This is where Park Avenue comes in, it had been a shocking season for Avenue, losing to everyone and their granny, cannon fodder and sure fire candidates for relegation. Since Bower was appointed as manager, form was initially sketchy but soon picked up closing the gap to safety. What seemed an impossibility, Bower took the worst team in the division and started to get wins even getting results against the best in the division, and produced a fantastic escape from relegation finishing in 16th spot. A job very well done by Bower and one that needs highlighting and exposure.

Nicky Law – Burnley
After a decade managing Alfreton Town, Burnley offered Law the opportunity to be the head of national recruitment for 17-23 year olds. This should prove a great opportunity for our ex manager and father of current midfielder Nicky Law, so this in turn should prove a good year for Law senior. Just wish the 2 Laws spoke with each other and pass a message onto McCall about potential signings.

Josh Morris – Scunthorpe United
What has to be one of the shocks in the English game this season, Morris who has managed 11 goals since his debut 7 years ago, hit the net once for us last season and really wasn’t all that. But this season, 15 goals in his first 21 games and ending on 20 come season end. Guess he had his 3 shredded wheats or some Ready Brek last autumn. Morris’ Scunthorpe lost in the play offs to Millwall after finishing 3rd, but at one stage looked to be walking away with it.

Phil Parkinson and Filipe Morais – Bolton
Parkinson has to go down as one of the best, if not the best all time City manager, so it was terrible news his tenure ended at Valley Parade 12 months ago. Bolton was in the long term a safe bet, but short term presented some challenges like a transfer embargo. To add insult to injury, Phil took Morais after he was released by McCall a few months ago but I was genuinely happy for both of them achieving automatic promotion at the first time of asking. Another feather in Parkinson’s cap.

Jason Kennedy – Carlisle United
Jason helped Carlisle to finish 6th in the play offs so it has been a positive season fighting at the right end of the table. Even though Carlisle United fell just short, 2016/17 proved to be Kennedy’s most prolific in front of the net in his entire career, the midfielder scored 11 times throughout the campaign.

Aaron McLean – Ebbsfleet United
I actually like the guy, he will work, work and work some more, but as a striker, even before we signed him, I felt he was way past it and was a mistake by Parkinson, McLean proved me right. But I am happy to report McLean has had a good 2016/17, helping Ebbsfleet to 96 points in the league and reach the play off final. McLean starred in the final at Stonebridge Road helping The Fleet beat Chelmsford 2-1 for a place in the Conference next season.

Simon Ainge – Harrogate Town
Just a quick mention, the Harrogate Town defender has been utilised as a striker, it may not have been a great season for Town, but on a personal note, Ainge has caught the eye as a striker, even from some league clubs. 20 plus goals this season to his name.

Chris Kamara – Everywhere
Is it just me or is Kamara’s face everywhere at the moment? It’s always a good year when Kammy is about.

James Hanson and Chris Wilder – Sheffield United
Blades manager Wilder is proving a very successful manager at all levels he is having a hand at. Hanson was growing stale at Valley Parade and a shock move to Bramall lane developed a few months ago. I would never deny these 2 success and I take my hat off and say well done on promotion well earned and the 2nd division title.

Gareth Evans – Portsmouth
Evans may be a player that most Bantams might have forgotten about, but a player I still respect and rate. Gareth is a grafter, he is usually at the heart of the engine, and competing in 46 games this season has helped Portsmouth in achieving automatic promotion by narrowly winning the 4th division on the last day.

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