Bradford City’s Play-Off Winners Then and Now

Bradford City's Play-off winners
Bradford City fans celebrate after winning the English League 2 Play-Off Final football match between Bradford City and Northampton Town at Wembley Stadium in London on May 18, 2013. Bradford City won 3-0. AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or “live” services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

As Bradford City make a devastating return to League Two, after six seasons in League One, let’s look at Bradford City’s League Two play-off winners who were aptly dubbed the ‘History Makers’. A team that created so many wonderful memories by winning promotion via the play-offs and making it to a national cup final.

After finishing 18th in League Two for two consecutive seasons, Bradford City finally pulled themselves up by the bootstraps under the guidance of manager Phil Parkinson and assistant manager Steve Parkin.

Bradford were promoted to League One after a late surge that saw them clinch the last play-off place in the 2012/2013 season. Bradford beat Burton Albion over two legs and went on to beat Northampton 3-0 at Wembley in the play-off final.

It is a season that is full of cherished memories for Bradford City and Steve Bowyer and Co will have to match the desire, determination and work ethic that made Bradford City’s 12/13 team so great.

Bradford City’s Play-Off Winners Revisited

Manager/Assistant Manager – Phil Parkinson & Steve Parkin

Then: Parkinson and Parkin took the reigns at Bradford in 2011 and led the club to safety in the league finishing 18th and Parkinson stated his ambition for promotion in the next season. Parkinson and Parkin were with Bradford for four years and 286 days making Parkinson the fifth longest-serving manager in English league football at the end of the 2015/16 season.

Now: The management duo are currently contracted to Bolton Wanderers, who have recently suffered relegation from the Championship and are currently undergoing an ownership crisis.

GK – Jon Mclaughlin

Then: McLaughlin signed for Bradford City in 2008 and went on to make 145 appearances for the Bantams. McLaughlin played the full ninety minutes in the League Two play-off final and kept a clean sheet.

Now: McLaughlin is now enjoying life as Sunderland’s first choice goalkeeper in League One. McLaughlin has made 44 appearances to date, as Sunderland seem destined to compete for promotion via the League One playoffs.

RB – Stephen Darby

Then: Idolised by Bradford fans and known as ‘Mr. Consistent’, Darby was a stalwart in defence during his time with the Bantams. Darby made 239 appearances for City and captained the side over two seasons.

Now: Stephen Darby has retired from professional football, after tragically being diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease. MND is a degenerative condition that affects how nerves in the brain and spinal cord function. Darby is fondly remembered at Bradford for his professionalism, determination and endeavour.

CB – Rory McArdle

Then: McArdle signed a two-year contract with Bradford City on the 6th of June 2012. McArdle became known for his aggressive defending and knack of scoring important goals. Including scoring for Bradford City’s play-off winners. Playing over 231 games for Bradford, McArdle was a core member of Phil Parkinson’s ‘History Makers’.

Now: After contract negotiations broke down with Bradford, McArdle signed for fellow League One side Scunthorpe, and is currently battling against relegation.

CB – Andrew Davies

Then: Andrew Davies was renowned for his heading ability and tough tackling nature. His attitude and character gave him a lovable persona and Davies repaid fans with imperious defensive displays.

Now: Andrew Davies signed for Dundee United in January 2019 on an 18-month contract. Shortly after signing for the club, Davies broke a metatarsal during a training match and was confirmed to be out for 8-10 weeks. Davies has yet to make an appearance for the club.

LB – James Meredith

Then: Meredith excited Bradford fans with his relentless forward play. As a fullback, Meredith would often make forward runs offering an attacking outlet as well as being defensively solid.

Now: On 29 May 2017, Meredith signed for newly promoted Championship club Millwall on a two-year contract. Meredith is still with Millwall who finished 21st in the league, four points clear of the drop.

RM – Garry Thompson

Then: Garry Thompson scored some important goals for Bradford, his back-post goal, at home to Arsenal, was particularly fantastic. Thompson also created two goals for Bradford City’s play-off winners in the final against Northampton Town.

Now: Thompson is still playing at the age of 38 and has recently signed for Northern Premier League club Workington.

CM – Gary Jones

Then: Gary ‘Evergreen’ Jones was a midfield engine that was the physical embodiment of the type of team Phil Parkinson and Steve Parkin set out to build. Jones was courageous, determined and would run his socks off for the team. Bradford fans adored the midfield magician and there was no better captain to drag the club out of the basement league than the magic Gary Jones.

Now: After playing over 700 games, Jones retired from professional football in 2017. Jones is now working outside of football, as a support worker with a company called Lifeways. Jones often interacts with Bradford fans on Twitter and is still, and will always be, held in high regard with the Bantams.

CM – Nathan Doyle

Then: Nathan Doyle formed a strong partnership with Gary Jones in a dynamic midfield. Doyle made 76 appearances for the Bantams and was integral to the history-making side.

Now: Doyle is now 32 and playing for Northern Counties East League side Bridlington.

LM – Kyel Reid

Then: Kyel Reid had blistering pace and wowed fans at Valley Parade with some wonderous goals in his time with Bradford. Reidy is fondly remembered and played over 100 games for the Bantams.

Now: The 31-year-old is currently playing for Chesterfield. The Spireites have just suffered relegation from League Two.

CF – James Hanson

Then: Chants of “He used to work at the Co-op” would ring through Valley Parade after big James Hanson would score, usually a trademark bullet header. The target man cut a marmite figure by the end of his time with Bradford but left the club with a fantastic record of 335 appearances, 91 goals and a legacy of spearheading the Bradford front line for the ‘History Makers’.

Now: James Hanson is currently playing for AFC Wimbledon as they look to ensure their League One survival. Hanson has played 28 times, scoring five goals for The Dons.

CF – Nahki Wells

Then: Nahki Wells formed the other half of the little and large forward partnership. After a very successful three seasons with the Bantams, Wells attracted interest from bigger clubs. Huddersfield Town eventually lured Nahki away with the offer of playing at a higher level. Wells ended his Bradford career with 112 appearances and 53 goals. Nahki was integral for Bradford City’s Play-off winners by scoring four goals in the play-offs games.

Now: Nahki Wells is contracted to Burnley but is on loan to Championship club, Queens Park Rangers. At the age of 28, Nahki still has plenty of football left in his career.

SUBS

Matt Duke

Then: The popular shot-stopper became a hero for his penalty-saving heroics for Bradford and was a key figure in Parkinson’s team.

Now: Matt Duke last played for Alfreton Town in 2015/16 season and since leaving has retired from professional football. Duke is currently the academy goalkeeping coach at Sheffield United.

Carl McHugh

Then: Carl McHugh was the fresh-faced, versatile defender that scored a crucial, thumping header against Aston Villa, in the league cup run. Carl enjoyed a connection with the City fans and was a consistent performer for the Bantams.

Now: The 26-year-old is currently playing for Motherwell.

Michael Nelson

Then: Nelson came in to offer some experience and strengthen the squad depth. Nelson made only 13 appearances for the Bantams.

Now: The 39-year-old is still playing football with Chesterfield, who, after suffering consecutive relegations, will be playing in the National League next season.

Ricky Ravenhill

Then: Ricky Ravenhill was City’s jack of all trades. Filling in the gaps when needed and often doing the dirty work that went underappreciated. The tough-tackling midfielder was tenacious and helped the Bantams on their famous League Cup run.

Now: Aged 38, Ravenhill is currently playing for Mickleover Sports after spells with Northampton, Mansfield and Buxton.

Will Atkinson

Then: Will Atkinson ran hot and cold for the Bantams and was often criticised but a revival in his form altered this. Atkinson played in every game on Bradford’s run to the 2013 League Cup final.

Now: The 30-year-old is currently contracted to Mansfield town. Although being transfer listed at the end of the 2017/18 season, Atkinson is still with the Stags.

Alan Connell

Then: Alan Connell had a great first touch, lovely passing ability and was fairly skilful but he cut a controversial figure due to his lack of goals. He played 43 games for the Bantams scoring only eight goals.

Now: Alan Connell retired from professional football in 2016 finishing his career at non-league side Poole Town. Connell is currently a youth team coach at Bournemouth.

Zavon Hines

Then: Hines signed for Bradford in 2012 and was part of the team that beat Aston Villa 3-1. Hines went onto make 32 appearances and scoring two goals for the Bantams.

Now: Zavon signed for Bromley in 2018, making six appearances, but retired on the 4th of February 2019 due to an injury.

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