Bradford City beating Arsenal will without a doubt go down in both club’s histories for drastically contrasting reasons. The primary reason being that Bradford were no less than 65 places below Arsenal in the English league pyramid at the start of play (Bradford 4th in league 2, Arsenal 7th in the Premier League).
In the build up to this match there was a strange feeling between the home fans that something magical was on the cards. Not many fans were willing to rule their team out.
I was reminded of the scale of this quarter-final Capital One Cup clash by the presence of Sky Sports; a sight Bradford fans almost never see. The gulf in resources was also made apparent by the temporary shack-like structure that had been erected for Sky to work in. Whereas the Emirates stadium possesses an area specifically designed for TV.
From the outset of this match, Arsenal fans felt they were here to pick up a routine win. These feelings were enhanced when the announcement of the starting line-ups was made, revealing that manager Arsene Wenger had gone with his strongest possible line-up.
When the game kicked off, explicit chants from the 4,000-strong Arsenal following filled the stadium as Gunners fans mocked the city, citing their overwhelming urges at wanting to leave.
The fans followed these chants with “You only came to see the Arsenal” chants. In part these chants had substance as the stadium had all but met its capacity with a match featuring an attendance of 24,000. The club’s usual attendance is 10,000, which is impressive for a League Two side. But this game’s attendance was their record attendance for 60 years, surpassing any of their Premier League attendances.
The final score was, without a doubt, a resounding victory for Bradford’s team, which cost approximately £7,500. Arsenal’s team cost £65 million to build.
Bradford’s victory against Arsenal shows the true romance of the English game and what is possible for any underdog in any sport.