When the player who scores the winning goal was working as a shelf stacker in a supermarket a couple of years ago, along with a manager who reportedly earns $1500 a week, you know something very special has happened when the team makes it all the way to a cup final at Wembley Stadium. Knocking out not one, not two but three Premier League sides along the way – Wigan, Arsenal and finally Aston Villa.
In a recent article I reported on the fairy tale of Bradford City Football Club. This week the fairy tale came true and little Bradford City beat Aston Villa 4-3 (on aggregate) to make it to the final against Swansea City at Wembley Stadium on February 24th. Making them the first fourth-division side to reach the final of the competition since Rochdale in 1962.
To put this into context –
In the red corner – Aston Villa
Year founded: 1874
Manager: Paul Lambert
Nickname: The Villa
Division: Premier League
Position in division: 16th (62 places above Bradford)
Next Opponents: Millwall in the 4th round of the FA Cup
Cost to put squad together: $163m
Club high: Winning the European club in 1982
Club Low: Relegation to the 3rd division in 1969, along with their dire performances during 2012.
Prospects for 2013: Trying to avoid relegation from the Premier League.
In the blue corner – Bradford City
Year Founded: 1903
Nickname: The Bantams
Manager: Phil Parkinson
Division: League two (old division 4)
Position in division: 10th
Next Opponents: Wycombe Wanderers
Cost to put squad together: $12,000
Club high: Winning the FA Cup in 1911.
Club Low: Aside from the fatal fire at the stadium in 1985, lows for the club include - eleven years out of the Premier League, falling into administration twice while continuing to live on the edge of permanent financial disaster.
Prospects for 2013: Aside from a trip to Wembley stadium, the clubs biggest task is trying to avoid relegation from the football league.
Whether Bradford City will victoriously raise the Football League Cup in the final on February 24th remains to be seen, but what ever happens it has been an amazing journey for the small team from West Yorkshire. As for Aston Villa, things can only get better, right?