Date: 18th January 2018 at 4:53pm
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It’s cold, it’s miserable, it’s terrible, and the weather ain’t much cracking either. Some fans have been conditioned and seem happy with recent results and seem to accept a mediocrity in life, and it is this time of year when the weather is as it is, making a trip to Valley Parade, difficult let’s say. There’s been many a time I look out towards the hills beyond Midland road and watch the traffic as it trundles along on a much more exciting journey than the one developing below right in front on the pitch.

The Chairmen have said it’s ok to lose to bottoms teams as long as we beat teams around us which seems a strange comment to make, I’ve never ever heard anyone in over 30 years of supporting the game, manager, footballer, supporter or chairman to make such a desperate comment. Some supporters are getting split on the input of Rahic and Rupp, but one gesture they have come out with this week, no one can knock. They have accepted the run we have had isn’t good enough and have offered free travel down to Bristol. I got to take my hats off to the club for that, and if honest, how much it does cost to travel to away grounds, it is something that should be offered more often throughout the leagues. Coach travel can be put on a lot cheaper as I have experienced in the past personally booking travel for large groups. I’ve spent thousands over the years watching football mainly in Bradford, but matches across the UK, even going to see teams such as Stoke and Sunderland several years ago. Times I love and breathe my club, other times I envy mates watching better leagues and players, hence why games up the North East or in the West Mids.

Fans are split on the club, the players, the chairmen and McCall, even the fitness coach, Chris Short. As is typical City, you say something and evidencing with facts, be it something bad or good you will get blind fans that retort to childish comments and become keyboard warriors trying to get as many likes as their most recent photos of a mug of coffee on their facebook starts a frenzy of mouse clicks for their own ‘popularity’, and always fearing in life to say or be different. But, the comments being made about the chairmen I think are crazy and will not fuel anything said. Lawn had some comments directed at home that were unjust, even the Rhodes family. Mention Richmond and some fans choke and turn red, but if we honest to ourselves, who would have run City different in that summer of 2000. I would have taken a gamble, and I can’t remember 1 person moan about free signings such as Carboneat the time. Not a single one. Agree with Rahic and Rupp or not, they may not have that public image of Rhodes. Whatever the intentions, surely it is moving forward. Football isn’t an industry to make money from.

A positive to come out of Valley Parade
Is it a bad time? Some fans would have you believe we are the only club in the country to have injuries at the moment, we haven’t lost to any poor teams of late, we are on an acceptable run playing acceptable quality football, and we are aiming to sign Premiership and Championship players. McCall, some may have picked up on I don’t rate and whilst some think he is the best thing since sliced bread and has never ever done anything wrong (not even as a player), but you know what? I kinda like McCall in situations like this. Why? At a glance, I can’t see us winning on Saturday, but McCall, if he has the fight that he had 20 or 30 years ago will love the challenge and stick 2 fingers up to the form book and the bookies. With a bit of a gee up for the supporters from the Chairmen with the free travel, there is something to be positive about regards our club in all this bleakness this past week, the support down in the South West. The Bantams will be in fine voice backing the team and manager and will be singing loudly before the whistle blows. McCall can be the difference this weekend, in fact he can be the only difference come Saturday and buck what is becoming a bit of a trend and get a much needed 3 points. Let’s not forget, McCall has already masterminded a 3-1 victory already this season against Rovers, at which time they were higher in the table and not having a bad run at all, in fact, McCall dished out their only loss in a run of 6 games, the other 5 they had won including a cup upset away at Fulham. McCall wouldn’t like anything more than a Rovers double this weekend. Can he do it? Of Course, don’t forget City’s impeccable away form under McCall. The Bantams would top the table if we worked on just away games, if our game on Saturday finishes before Blackburn’s, McCall could be the first manager in the 3rd division to notch up 10 away wins in the league this season.

Plenty of reasons for Bristol to be positive.
20000 fans booed McCall and the players off the pitch last weekend after yet what is becoming a normal standard. 20000 Bradfordians can’t be wrong! Or can they? Well I’ve never booed a single time in 3 decades, not a single once whilst at a match at my team. I’ve had plenty of opportunities, but booing never helps. Maybe the couple of people that like to make a noise whilst never going to a match won’t understand why the faithful are getting frustrated and angry. We were a 4th division club 5 years ago, hey, who cares if we don’t take this golden opportunity to get back into the 2nd division? Some great positive conditioned mentality there. It is this little thinking that will hold a club down. Just as I’m happy to go watch Avenue in none league for the next 50 years, are some happy to see City in the lower leagues rest of their lives whilst Jim or Bob next door get to go watch Man U and Liverpool? Northampton, Yeovil, Wimbledon, Plymouth, Bury, Oldham have all beaten the bantams this season, some of which were carrying massive injuries at the time and all are below the Pirates in the league status. The Bantams are rocked heavily at the moment by injury with a lack of depth, which of course is nothing to do with the manager of any club by putting all of his eggs into a small basket. After the final whistle at Valley Parade with how supporters have reacted, it wouldn’t take much for Rovers to ignite the fuse of the fragile backing of their opponents. The Bantams are vocal for better or worse, and at times can work against us. I’ve seen many a time City players cringe or curl up whilst on the pitch because of our own crowd. Rovers are unbeaten in their last 4 and that includes a win against Portsmouth. How many betting people would fancy Rovers on their accumulator? I study tables, forms both recent and historical, geography etc and this is one game I would bet on the team further down the table. We won’t win every game every year, we didn’t under Parkinson and we won’t under McCall, and this is one of those I tip to see us empty handed. In recent seasons, we haven’t done too badly either against the Pirates. Also with things as they are at the moment, will McCall play for and accept a draw?

Head to head and form
13 wins Bristol Rovers
7 draws
5 Bradford City wins

History is definitely on the side of Rovers winning more than half the games between the 2 sides. The last game was earlier this year, a 3-1 win for City at home thanks to a Charlie Wyke hat trick before Billy Bodin got a consolation. Last season was a 1-1 affair at the Memorial Stadium, Chris Lines opening the scoring only 15 minutes into the game only for Nicky Law to get the equaliser not long after. The last Rovers win at home was 3 attempts ago in this fixture, Jan 2012 2-1 going 2-0 up with goals from Lee Brown and Eliot Richards before Rob Kozluk was sent off after the hour for City, minutes before Dave Syers pulled a goal back making it 2-1. City has never won in this fixture with the last double back in the 1995/96 season for Rovers. The pendulum is definitely on the side of Bristol, but is it all Bristol? NO!!! In the last 5 games City have won twice the other 3 games ending in stalemate. City did earn a 4-1 win at Valley Parade 5 years ago. Could we see a 4th draw in 6 games between the 2?

Rovers Last 6 DWDDLL
Rovers last 6 home WLWWLL
City last 6 LLWWLL
City last 6 away LWLWWW

Bradford City are a double edged sword at the moment, we are one of the best teams on the road throughout the leagues, even recent form on the road is quite impressive, but that is just black and white stats with no consideration for anything else. For me, it isn’t the form, but who we have been losing to of late and the last game on the road was the embarrassing and forgettable trip to Huish Park losing to a 2nd string Yeovil team, a game where you would have even expected Bradford Park Avenue to give it a real good go and possibly even win. City you can look at 2 things, form, and who the results, both losses and wins have been against. Rovers have had an upside down season, started well, and now seem to be dragged into the relegation battle. Rovers again you can look in 2 perspectives, they are unbeaten in their last 4 or you can look at them winning just the once in their last 6 games. So either way, this game is at a good and at a bad time for both clubs.

Rovers last 6 results
Blackpool (A) 0-0 draw
Portsmouth (H) 2-1 win
Oldham Athletic (A) 1-1 draw
Walsall (A) 0-0 draw
Doncaster Rovers (H) 1-2 loss
Gillingham (A) 4-1 loss

City’s last 6 results
Northampton Town (H) 1-2 loss
Yeovil Town (A) 2-0 loss
Fleetwood Town (A) 1-2 win
Oxford United (H) 3-2 win
Peterborough United (H) 1-3 loss
AFC Wimbledon (A) 2-1 loss

Last 6 league encounters between City and Town
Sep 2017 – City 3-1 Rovers
Feb 2017 – Rovers 1-1 City
Sep 2016 – City 1-1 Rovers
Apr 2013 – City 4-1 Rovers
Nov 2012 – Rovers 3-3 City
Jan 2012 – Rovers 2-1 City

Goals in numbers, last 6 games
For – City 8, Rovers 4
Conceded – Rovers 7, City 12
Blanks – City 1, Rovers 3
Clean sheets – Rovers 2, City 0

Goals in numbers Rovers home/City away (last 6)
For – Rovers 9, City 7
Conceded – City 7, Rovers 10
Blanks – Rovers 1, City 1
Clean sheets – Rovers 1 ,City 1

Leading scorers
12 Charlie Wyke (City)
11 Billy Bodin (Rovers)

League placings difference
City – 12 places – Rovers

Boz’s match verdict: Home win

5 Fun Facts

1. The last time a double was achieved was in the 1995/96 season going the way of Rovers. The game at Valley Parade, in which current Bristol Rovers assistant manager, Marcus Stewart got onto the goal sheet. The result ending 2-3. Stewart started his career at Rovers before being sold to Huddersfield Town for £1.2m in 1996 before earning further big money transfers of £2.5m to Ipswich in 2000 and £3.25m to Sunderland in 2002.

2. The last time Rovers finished above the Bantams in the football league was the 2011/12 season. City finished 18th in League 2 under Phil Parkinson whilst Rovers finished 13th under Mark McGhee. City started the season under one of Marcus Stewart’s earliest managers, Peter Jackson, who at the time many thought was one of the best managers in the game. Jackson ended up with probably the poorest managerial record, definitely in recent history.

3. Did you know that Rovers actually had a player called Bradford. Geoff Bradford spent his entire career at Rovers making 462 appearances scoring in over half of the games, 242 times he hit the net which is a club record. Bradford earned 1 international cap for England, scoring the 5th goal in a 5-1 win over Denmark in 1955. Bradford also has the most number of goals in a single season for Rovers with 33. Bradford never played against Bradford (City), leaving Rovers 5 years before the maiden meeting between the Pirates and the Bantams.

4. Bristol Rovers was the first club to sell a goal keeper for £1m, Nigel Martyn in 1989 when Crystal Palace came calling for him. Martyn had an illustrious career having played in the Premiership for clubs such as Leeds United who paid £2.25m for him and then onto Everton. After his playing career, Nigel Martyn spent 3 years as goalkeeper coach in recent years at Bradford City.

5. Rovers have introduced some big and successful names into the world of football. Both Tony Pulis and Ian Holloway started their senior careers at Bristol Rovers. Pulis had 2 spells at the end of the 70s and start of the 80s hanging up his boots 26s years ago and gone on to manage clubs such as Stoke. Pulis’ team mate at the time, Ian Holloway hung up his boots in 1999 finishing at the club he started and has managed clubs such as QPR, Leicester and Palace. Pulis has never managed Rovers, but he did have spell at their bitter Rivals, Bristol City at the turn of the millennium.


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