Our final ‘In Focus’ features Bradford City, who enjoyed a memorable season which finished with play-off victory at Wembley.
Phil Parkinson – Parkinson was appointed Bradford City manager in 2011 after a three years with Charlton Athletic.
The 45-year-old, who played for Southampton, Bury and Reading as a footballer, was handed his first managerial role in February 2003 at Colchester United. After guiding the U’s to an unlikely promotion to the Championship, Parkinson joined Hull City and later the Addicks before making the move to Bradford two years ago.
During his career Parkinson has won promotion with Colchester United, finished as runner-up in the Capitals One Cup and won a play-off final.
Phil Parkinson lifting the play-off trophy at Wembley back in May
Key and notable players:
Nahki Wells – Wells joined Bradford City in 2011 after a successful trial period at the club.
The 23-year-old striker, who had a spell with Carlisle United prior to his move to Valley Parade, scored 18 goals last season as he helped guide Parkinson’s men to play-off victory. Wells also scored three times across the two play-off semi finals against Burton Albion and later netted in the final at Wembley.
Wells has been subject to interest from a host of Championship clubs this summer although the player has re-iterated his desire to stay in West Yorkshire.
Gary Jones – Jones was given the captain’s armband as soon as he arrived at Valley Parade in June 2012, after he ended an eight-year association with fellow League 2 outfit Rochdale.
Jones made a total of 39 appearances in his debut season for Bradford City and played a key role in leading the Bantams to both the Capital One Cup final and the League 2 play-off final.
Jones was named Bradford City’s Player of the Year for his impressive performances last season.
James Hanson – Hanson is currently one of Bradford’s longest serving players having made over 150 appearances for the club since signing in 2009.
Hanson, a 6ft 4in centre-forward, has scored 41 goals for the Bantams in his four seasons with the side – 10 of which came last season. Hanson scored the first goal in Bradford City’s 3-0 play-off final victory over Northampton Town.
One to watch – Alan Connell. Connell struggled to nail down a first team place behind Nahki Wells and James Hanson last season but the former Swindon Town striker still managed to find the net 8 times. Connell is well-known for scoring from the bench and he will be looking to do the same this season.
Stadium: Coral Windows Stadium (25,136)
Nickname: The Bantams
Kit: Amber shirt, claret shorts, claret socks
Bradford City were formed in 1903 after a series of discussions between the Football League and a local rugby League, aimed at promoting the sport in rugby dominated area. Despite never playing a football game before, Bradford managed to sustain their place in Division Two in their first year and then in 1911 they went on to win the FA Cup.
Since then, Bradford have competed in all of the Football League divisions, winning eight promotions, two of which as champions. Bradford’s last promotion to the Premier League was in 1999, although they were relegated two year's later.
Bradford City are one of the Football League’s most notable sides and still play at the well-known Valley Parade stadium, which is now named the Coral Windows Stadium due to sponsorship.
Even the most ardent Bradford City supporter couldn’t have predicted the season the Bantams had in 2012/13.
Despite a positive start in the League, it was City’s Capital One Cup form which took centre-stage for most of the year as they made it all the way to final, seeing off three Premier League sides in the process.
After defeating Notts County, Watford and Burton Albion in the opening three rounds, Bradford City provided their first scalp by defeating Premier League outfit Wigan Athletic on penalties in October. The victory over Wigan, though, was upstaged by a penalty shoot-out victory over Arsenal live on Sky Sports a month later. Parkinson’s Bradford then saw off Aston Villa 4-3 on aggregate in the semi-finals to set up a final with Swansea City at Wembley and although the Bantams were beaten heavily in the final, their brave cup run saw them earn plaudits from all over the country.
Unlike most sides who enjoy cup runs, Bradford still managed to maintain their League form and they secured their place in the play-offs with a strong March and April. The West Yorkshire-men knocked out Burton Albion in the semi-finals to set up a tie with Northampton Town, who they comfortably beat 3-0 in the final to book their place in League 1.
The first bit of business for Bradford City this off season was to secure the services of manager Phil Parkinson, which they did in May by signing him to a three-year deal along with his backroom staff.
Parkinson then released young striker Adam Baker, who made just four appearances from the bench for the Bantams last season while agreeing a deal to keep defender Andrew Davies at Valley Parade for two more years, in a relatively quite close season in West Yorkshire.