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Nationwide Division One
Saturday, 7th February 2004

Bradford City 1
West Ham United 2

by East Stand Martin

You are going to have to be patient, with the preamble to this report, because the trip to Bradford for me was somewhat of a pilgrimage.

A long time ago…

Way back in 1980, a North London boy arrived in Bradford for the very first time. For reasons best known to him, he decided that he would study in that town and live there for three years. A massive culture shock occurred; not only had he never been north of Watford before, but he had also only been used to living in a white English community. All was to change.

Nothing seemed the same - the curry house Bradford style was very different to that in London. No sign of flock wallpaper here. In fact, no sign of tablecloths nor cutlery. Just a bowl of slurry, which was disturbingly described as ‘keema’. Your task was to scoop up this stuff with a chappati and hope that the following morning’s consequences were not too disastrous. The ‘Keema-therapy’ usually brought a whole new meaning to that classic Roxy Music number, “Both Ends Burning.”

Deprived of the means to follow his beloved West Ham (except when they happened to be playing up north), a decision was made to adopt Bradford City in their attempt to lift themselves out of the old fourth division.

Yes my friends, ESM’s second club is Bradford City. I saw them secure promotion to division three. I stood in that old half condemned stand with my college mates watching the weather closing in from across the moors, just like it did yesterday. I stood in the Belle Vue pub that used to be at the top of the road (now a derelict looking Islamic Cultural Centre), supping a pint of Tetley’s and betting on which stripper would have the longest appendectomy scar.

I also saw a young prospect for the first time, barely out of school, who I like to think I spotted as a real talent in those days. That prospect, Stuart McCall is now reaching the end of his career, but his continued presence does make me feel that I'm not completely past it. When he hangs up his boots, then I’ll know I’m really f**ked.

Football is a matter of life and death

The new ground in Bradford is, of course, totally different but one place I had to visit with ESM Junior was the Memorial to those that lost their lives in the terrible fire of 1985. This happened one year after I had left the town to return south. I discovered not long after it happened that the fire broke out almost exactly where we used to stand.

The names were all there etched in gold on the black marble. ESM junior noticed that some that lost their lives that day, were the same age as him. My eyes were drawn to a family whose name was Ormondroyd. A very Yorkshire name, it looked like that a father and his two boys perished together that terrible day. Rest in peace.

If I was feeling a little sombre upon entering the ground, my spirits were soon raised by the spectacle of the Bradford mascot, who is called the ‘City Gent’. He is a basically, a fat b*stard with a mullet, wearing a bowler hat, twiddling an umbrella and fitted out in a XXXXL Bradford kit. Highly amusing.

But let's cut to the chase, and analyse what turned out to be a classic game of two halves.

No Matty

The first thing that worried me about this game was that Matty Etherington did not appear. Apparently it was a warm-up injury. I think that he has been a revelation recently, and I was concerned that his omission would hurt us.

In his place arrived a rather emaciated looking youngster. It was the boy McAnuff. But apart from this, the team looked pretty much as expected, with Deano given the nod over Zamora. I was content with that, because I think Deano has been superb of late.

The game started like many games I have seen this season. We looked bright enough and Marlon, in particular, looked very lively down the right wing. However, at the same time, the warning signs were there as Bywater was forced into making two top class saves: first from the head of Alun Armstrong following a corner and then from Armstrong again, who found himself one-on-one with the increasingly impressive young keeper.

“Ohhhhh, the Reo-Coker…”

Down the other end, Reo-Coker hit the right hand post when it looked easier to stick the ball home. Despite this miss, he gave a very accomplished performance over the 90 minutes. He looked good at Upton Park last week, and he showed real drive and commitment throughout the game today. He has the look of a leader to me and I would not be surprised if at some point in the future he became West Ham captain.

The other thing about Reo-Coker is that he does not take any sh*t from opposing players. He and Andy Gray were really at each other throughout this game and we had a good view of various kicks and foot stamps that each were giving out. Rio-Coker doesn't seem to follow the Moncur school of thought though, as he was smiling throughout. The red mist did not descend. He just seems genuinely happy to be at West Ham.

Bradford went close again on a couple of occasions before they bagged their goal 10 minutes before halftime. It came from a long ball, which the centre of defence failed to deal with. The ball came out to Atherton on the right-hand edge of the box and he fired a very good shot into the top left-hand corner. Bywater had no chance and was in no way at fault.

Do something drastic

So there we were of the halftime, feeling very unhappy with life. We were missing Matty, and McAnuff looked out of his depth. Deano was winning a few balls in the air, but we only looked dangerous when the ball was given to Marlon. Connors was fairly absent, and it looked pretty uncompetitive in midfield.

“Pardew needs to do something drastic”, said the bloke next to me and it was clear that this what was going to happen when the team came out for the second half. Zamora was on for Deano and Nowland came on for McAnuff.

What followed next made you wonder why Pardew hadn’t started with the second half line-up. In a nutshell, Zamora made an immediate impact on this game. So did Nowland with a long range volley that was saved well by the Bradford keeper. We looked so much more determined and enjoyed a great deal of possession.

The Z-factor

The thing that most struck me about Zamora was his pace. I recognise that he was playing against relatively pedestrian defenders, but on one occasion he started 4 yards behind a defender and ended up 2 yards in front of him to gather the ball. It took 20 minutes for him to open what I hope will be a prolific account with our club. A cross came over from Christian Dailly (or ‘Giggsy’ as I call him) and there was the Z-man with a header that sent us all into a frenzy behind the Bradford goal.

Mullins had another shot wide before the pressure finally told with Connolly slotting a pass out to the right hand side of the box, where Marlon picked it up and hit a powerful shot from a tight angle. He went mad. We went mad. You simply cannot deny that Marlon knows how to score goals, if that doesn’t sound too much like a cliché.

Bradford tried to grab an equaliser but there was only around 12 minutes left when our second goal went in. They thought they had got one but this was ruled offside. Then in true West Ham style, there were one or two panicky moments in the final minutes as Bradford fired in a few hanging crosses into the box.

I heard Pardew say afterwards that six weeks ago we would have lost a game like that. If we had carried on playing the way we had in the first half we would have probably not even pulled off a draw. The extra factor, which I felt was brought to the team by Defoe could well be compensated for by Zamora, if this game is anything to go by.

As the game ended, the song went up that summed all of this up: Zamora, woaoooo, Zamora woaooo, he comes from White Hart Lane, he’s better than Jermain…” Let’s hope that this proves to be right, although I did see a certain goal go in on The Premiership last night at White Hart lane as well….

(Following player comments by Teeside Hammer, player ratings by Sicknote)

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Player Ratings

Stephen Bywater
Had a excellent first 15 minutes with two great saves then not much else to do apart from in injury time, when he made a good one handed save from a header.


Christian Dailly
Set up Zamora's goal but struggled defensively. Given the disarray at Forest right now I would definitely look at Dawson as an alternative.


Jon Harley
A fair game from the loanee.


Nigel Reo-Coker
Struggled in the first-half, but playing on the left side of "three" in midfield in the second-half transformed his game. Full of energy, good close control and hilarious when stamping on Gray & Wallwork's feet at the near-post for our corners!


Tomas Repka
Strong, read the game well and was well up for it.


Hayden Mullins
Has had his critics on KUMB but I thought he stuck at it well today. Is better going forward, but at the moment is the best we have got in that position.


Michael Carrick
Excellent game - always wanted the ball. Carrick's passing was excellent - and he was unlucky not to score in the second half.


Brian Deane
Did okay but when he plays it is to easy to use him as a long ball option. The team played better without him in the second half (not a criticism of him as he gives 100% whenever he plays).


Jobi McAnuff
Only on for 45 minutes; didn't see enough of the ball and only playing due to Etherington's late injury. On the plus side, he looks very quick..


Marlon Harewood
Similar to Reo - first half, struggled out wide on the right but a real threat up front in the second half with Zamora.


David Connolly
Lively display, frequently hacked down by Bradford's defenders. Played well behind Zamora and Harewood in the second half.


Substitutes


Adam Nowland
(Replaced McAnuff, 45) Again, very good first impressions. Nowland likes to play the ball into the feet of strikers and looks an intelligent footballer; looking forward to seeing more of him.


Bobby Zamora
(Replaced Deane, 45) Really enjoyed his goal, he wants to play for us and his performance showed that. Quicker than I thought and could be our inspiration for promotion.


Andy Melville
(Replaced Connolly, 90) Only on the pitch for a matter of seconds.


Rami Shabaan
Did not play.


Anton Ferdinand
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: M.Halsey.

Attendance: 13078.

Man of the Match: Tomas Repka.

West Ham United

Goals: Bobby Zamora 65 Marlon Harewood 77                

Booked: None booked.           .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

Bradford City

Combe, Francis, Wetherall, Gavin, Heckingbottom, Summerbee, Atherton, Wallwork, Farrelly, Gray, Armstrong.

Substitutes: Windass (Summerbee 71), Branch (Armstrong 88).

Subs not used: Bower, Evans, Muirhead.

Goals: Atherton (36).

Booked: Wallwork (55).

Sent Off: None sent off..

 
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