With the 2015-16 season fixture release looming this Wednesday, we have crafted an article taking us back through the years as we take a look at City’s last few opening day fixtures.
Last season, Phil Parkinson's men began their League 1 campaign in the most dramatic fashion possible at home to Coventry City.
James Hanson stuck in the final moments of the game with a bullet header to secure all three points after his earlier goal and a penalty from debutant Alan Sheehan had been cancelled out by two efforts from Coventry defender Reda Johnson.
Hanson's late match-winner in the summer sunshine came virtually straight from the restart after Johnson's second equaliser.
The previous season saw us take on newly relegated Bristol City at Ashton Gate; we had just achieved promotion back to League 1 after a six year absence and Bristol City had recently been relegated from the Championship putting an end to their 6 year spell in the second tier. Scott Wagstaff gave the hosts the lead before Nahki Wells equalised before half time. Jay Emmanuel-Thomas fired his side ahead once more before Rory McArdle earned a point for the Bantams with a glancing header from Raffa De Vita’s corner.
Prior to that game at Bristol City, City had suffered four consecutive opening day defeats – not a statistic to live long in the memory. Our history making 2012-13 season was certainly one to remember but the opening day defeat at Gillingham wasn’t the greatest start to the campaign. Danny Kedwell’s bizarre goal gave Martin Allen’s men the lead before he doubled up from the penalty spot; Nahki Wells’ spot kick pulled one back for City but Myles Weston’s fine strike wrapped up a 3-1 victory for the Kent club.
A disappointing start to the 2011-12 season under Peter Jackson was kicked off by the 2-1 home defeat to Aldershot Town on the opening day. Danny Hylton’s goal and Robbie Threlfall’s own goal gave Town a 2-0 half time lead and James Hanson’s stoppage time goal proved merely a consolation. The previous two years saw City undone by hat-trick heroes.
A Jake Robinson hat-trick gave Shrewsbury Town a 3-1 home victory after teenage Norwich City loanee Tom Adeyemi had fired the Bantams ahead early on; the year before early League 2 title favourites Notts County proved their worth with an emphatic 5-0 victory over City at Meadow Lane, Lee Hughes was the hat-trick hero on that warm summer afternoon in Nottingham. Ironically the opening fixture to the previous season was also against Notts County, but the Bantams recorded a 2-1 home victory thanks to Peter Thorne’s double that set them on their way to some great early season form.
The 2007-08 season was the first of the League 2 era and the very beginning of Stuart McCall’s managerial tenure at Valley Parade, a large number of season tickets had been purchased and the average crowd that season was close to 14,000. Much hype surrounded the home opener with Macclesfield Town and it was the visitors who took an early lead through Francis Green. City pressed and got themselves a penalty; the resulting attempt from Barry Conlon was kept out but Guylain Ndumbu-Nsungu tucked the ball away with the follow up to earn a 1-1 draw.
Another Nottingham opener to speak of, this time at The City Ground in 2006 – home of Nottingham Forest. Labelled as one of the early League 1 promotion favourites, Forest eventually missed out in the play-offs but got off to a flier with a 1-0 victory against City, Julian Bennett’s 10th minute goal proving decisive.
The City of Nottingham has been mentioned a fair bit in this article but another place visited twice by City on opening days between 2004 and 2005 was Hartlepool. The Bantams went down 2-1 at Victoria Park in 2004 when late goals from Adam Boyd and Hugh Robertson cancelled out Dean Windass’ opener but amends were certainly made the following season.
The 2005-06 season began with a 2-0 victory away at the Pools; an early strike by prolific forward Dean Windass was added to early in the second half by Dutch winger Bobby Petta.