Bradford fairytale proves that football dreams do come true
The Bantams provide evidence that even in modern football there is room for romance
BRADFORD CITY'S run to the final of the League Cup has been hailed as a footballing fairytale and an antidote to the domination of the modern game by a handful of big clubs.
The Yorkshire side made it to Wembley after beating Premier League Aston Villa 4-3 over a two-legged semi-final, despite losing the second match 2-1 at Villa Park last night.
It was an extraordinary feat from a team 62 places below Villa in the league, and which cost a mere £7,500 to assemble - no more than a day's wages for some Premier League stars.
Bradford, nicknamed the Bantams, are the first team from the fourth tier of English football to reach a major final since 1962, when the game was far more egalitarian.
But this was "compelling evidence that dreams can come true in the unforgiving, ruthless modern game," said the BBC's Phil McNulty. "Bradford's achievement in this cup campaign can stand comparison with any of the great giant-killing tales dotted throughout English football's history."
There is a human aspect to Bradford's journey too. "This is a club and a city that have known great tragedy - 56 people died and many more were injured in the fire at Valley Parade in 1985. It is a history that will add poignancy to the joy of their day at Wembley," said McNulty.
The Daily Mail was also incredulous. "Things like this aren’t supposed to happen in modern football," it said. "Teams from the fourth tier aren't supposed to reach major cup finals," it marvelled. "Bradford City, however, play by their own rules and another night of heroic football saw them through to a Wembley final at the expense of a truly dismal and demoralised Aston Villa."
Bradford's recent travails make the achievement all the more impressive, commented The Guardian. "For Bradford, 10th in League Two, bucket-collection skint a few years back and grateful still to be in business, it is difficult to imagine how they could possibly top this moment. Unless, that is, they go to Wembley and actually win the damn thing."
The cup run could lead to some changes at the Bantams' home. "There is a '1911 Lounge’ at Valley Parade, commemorating the club's FA Cup triumph, and the decorators may need to get started on a 2013 Lounge," noted the Daily Telegraph. "They could even qualify for Europe."
The result even made waves across the Atlantic, where CNN reported on Bradford's "fairytale story" and told how the rag-tag team showed "bravery, courage and no shortage of skill to do the unthinkable".
But spare a thought for Villa, who join Wigan and Arsenal on the roll-call of Premier League clubs beaten by Bradford on their amazing run. Results like this "are the reason why so many of us love football so dearly," said Goal.com. "Yet, for every giant-killer, there must be a giant's corpse. It will be hard for Aston Villa to see the romantic side."