Bradford City was formed in 1903 but the sports club that ultimately became City, Manningham Rugby League Club, were established in 1880 and were winners of the inaugural Rugby League championship in 1895. By the time of the change over from Rugby to Association Football Manningham had fallen on hard times and in 1903, after resorting to a series of archery contests to keep the club afloat, a more permanent solution to the financial problems was hit upon. Manningham changed code from rugger to soccer and after doing so were welcomed into the recently formed Football League. The League, seeking the chance to establish a foothold in the uncharted and previously rugby stronghold of the West Riding, welcomed the renamed Bradford City Football Club into the second division without a ball being kicked.
City’s home is Valley Parade which dates from 1886. It was developed in 1903 following City’s election to the League, one of the first English football grounds to be redeveloped in the last decade and Bradford City are fairly unique in so far as they chose to remain at their traditional location. Following the tragic events of May 1985 Valley Parade were at the forefront the new era of reform and redevelopment of football grounds. At a time when many clubs have taken the opportunity (or excuse) to move from their traditional homes, City have chosen to remain at their traditional location – albeit succumbing to the corporate new world by renaming the stadium The Bradford & Bingley Stadium.
Bradford City is the only League club in England to wear claret and amber. The colours were inherited upon the conversion of Manningham FC from Northern Union rugby to soccer in 1903 but no-one seems able to explain the circumstances which led to the original choice of these unique colours. However whereas Manningham traditionally wore claret and amber hoops City have worn stripes. The reason for the adoption of claret and amber may never be known. It could have been the idiosyncratic choice of a senior Manningham committee member or it could have been the case that jerseys in those colours were available for use. It has been suggested that the colours had military origin relating perhaps to the Belle Vue Barracks in Manningham. Maybe the use of claret and amber brought the claim that they were the colours of ‘blood and mustard’ – a metaphor for fighting qualities, fire and strength.
It has also been suggested that the choice of claret and amber was probably based on the resemblance to the colours of wine and ale… For that matter there is the resemblance to rhubarb and custard. Could it be that the Manningham Management Committee ‘enjoyed their drink’ and the Manningham players trained on a diet of rhubarb and custard?
It is for certain that forerunners Manningham FC adopted claret and amber in 1884 before the move to Valley Parade in 1886. Manningham had originally worn black shirts with white shorts and the first game in claret and amber was against Hull on 20th September 1884 at Carlisle Road. Presumably we must conclude that claret and amber was chosen by Manningham for the purpose of being distinctive in the same way that Tranmere Rovers AFC wore maroon and orange for a few years from 1889 in order to dazzle their opponents. Anyway, Bradford City have worn claret and amber with either white or black as a tribute to Manningham FC. Whatever the origin of claret and amber it was a choice of good taste!
Bradford City celebrated the return to top division status in 1999 after a 77 year exile with a new strip designed by Asics. Sadly the purists take the view that this is not in the correct colours and indeed Asics describe it as ‘burgundy and gold’. Given the fact that City’s colours are so unique surely any self-respecting marketing executive would pay attention to the detail…
The distinctive colours were certainly not derived from the civic identity of Bradford given that the primary colours of the Bradford coat of arms were red and blue with gold. The Bradford coat of arms was used as the club’s formal crest until the early 1960’s. With no offence to you City supporters we include the lovely saga that comes with these arms to another club illustrious club that has embraced the same insignia, Bradford (Park Avenue). Repetition here will be …well…repetitious.
City’s present badge features a bantam sitting atop a shield with the letters BCAFC, set against the club colours. Prior to that City’s badge was based around the club’s initials B and C in a graphical style that was en vogue during the early 70’s. In 1974 City adopted a contemporary style crest with the boar’s head peacefully, and very dead, resting on top of a shield including the letters BC. This design gave way for the bantam identity of the club, only to be re-introduced at the start of 1985/86 season and this was retained until the end of 1990/91. Apart from this relatively short period a bantam has been the main feature of City’s crests since the end of 1981.
Bantam identity? Yes. Bradford City’s ‘Bantams’ identity arose from the suggested resemblance of their claret and amber colours to the plumage of bantams. There was no objection to being associated with the small but fearless fighting creatures and the nickname was encouraged by the club.
The shirt which was worn by City in the First Division, from 1908 to 1922, and the 1911 FA Cup Final was probably designed to reinforce the bantams identity with the broad amber yolk on the claret shirt seeking to resemble the neck and chest of the bird. By contrast, Manningham’s claret and amber hoops had earned them the nickname ‘The Wasps’ although at one stage they were also called ‘The Robins’.
Newspaper reports from early 1903 also refer to Manningham RFC as the ‘Paraders’ – a nickname subsequently adopted by Bradford City. Manningham had played at Valley Parade from 1886 until the formation of Bradford City in 1903. During the inter-war period ‘The Paraders’ identity was more frequently used in preference to ‘The Bantams’ and it was also adopted as the title of the club’s programme from 1931 until the outbreak of war. In the 1950’s the ‘Bantams’ identity was revived and the Burlington Terrace offices overlooking the Kop were adorned with a hoarding on which a bantam character with ball, similar to the Spurs crest, was painted. After 1966 the club actively marketed ‘The Parader’ identity. By the early 1980’s however ‘Paraders’ had an empty resonance given the state of Valley Parade and in December, 1981 the club relaunched the ‘Bantams’ as the official identity.
In the early years City were also referred to as ‘The Citizens’ A lesser used nickname was ‘The Woolwinders’, derived from the city of Bradford’s status of the ‘Worstedopolis’ and there are examples of this in away programmes from before the First World War.
Mention should perhaps be made of one other insignia currently used around the club – The City Gent. This mascot type figure wears the bowler and carries the brolly of a main sponsor of the club. We leave it to you to decide when it comes to the Annual Mascots’ Steeplechase whether a man with a bowler or a large chicken are more in keeping with the fun element.