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Club News

BANTAMS HERITAGE: CITY v WALSALL

15 December 2018

Having spent only seven seasons in English football's top two divisions in their entire history since Bradford City were formed in 1903, Saturday's opponents Walsall have met the Bantams in league football 42 times before.

From the first meeting in XX to the most recent clash just a few months ago, here's City's history with the Saddlers.

Early meetings

While City and Walsall first arrived at the same level of league football in 1927, the Saddlers' location in the country meant it would be a while longer before they met. With Division Three being regionalised into north and south competitions for much of the 20th century, Walsall moved between the north and south variations on numerous occasions. 

That meant it wasn't until as recently as 1960 when the sides actually met in league football for the first time - a forgettable year for City, as they were relegated to Division Four. The first meeting with Walsall was arguably just as forgettable: a 4-0 defeat at Fellows Park, before Walsall won the return meeting at Valley Parade 2-1.

City spent the majority of the 1960s not only in Division Four, but fighting for re-election to the Football League on two separate occasions - meaning it wouldn't be until the final months of the decade, after City had finally escaped the bottom tier, that they met again. This time, it was much more memorable; as two penalties from Tony Leighton and a John Hall goal helped City to a 3-0 win.

Walsall, much like in the modern day, became a consistent presence in Division Three in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. City spent much of their time there too during that period, meaning meetings were somewhat regular; highlights for the Bantams included a Bruce Bannister hat-trick in a 3-0 win in October 1971, as well as a 2-1 win in February 1984 which saw Stuart McCall score one of his first Bradford City goals. 

Modern meetings

As the 1990s began, and City started their climb towards finishing the decade a Premier League side, meetings with the Saddlers became somewhat more sporadic. In fact, the only season City and Walsall were in the same league throughout the decade was 1995-96, when Chris Kamara's side eventually secured promotion to Division One via the play-offs. That season, Neil Tolson's winner helped City to a 1-0 win at Valley Parade, before a Tommy Wright penalty proved to be mere consolation in a 2-1 loss at the newly-built Bescot Stadium. 

It would be 2001 before the sides met again; with City's two-year sojourn in the Premier League over, goals from Eoin Jess and Juanjo - his one and only goal for the club on his debut! - helping the Bantams to a 2-0 win. However, two seasons later, both sides were relegated to League One - and they have both remained in the bottom two tiers of professional football since then. 

One of City's first victories upon promotion back into League One in 2013 was against the Saddlers, as James Hanson plus an infamous Kyle Reid strike helped Phil Parkinson's side to a 2-0 win at the Bescot. Hanson liked scoring against Walsall; he scored a hat-trick in our 4-0 win against the Saddlers in April 2016 - a game which started a run of five games against Walsall without defeat: a run we carry into Saturday's huge clash against Dean Keates' side.

Top scorers against Walsall

In total, 36 players have scored league goals for Bradford City against Walsall - with only six scoring more than once. Those players, with their heritage numbers attached, are: 

Four goals: James Hanson (#1065). Three goals: Bruce Bannister (#599), Bobby Campbell (#710). Two goals: Tony Leighton (#629), Les O'Neill (#642), David Wetherall (#910).


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