City meet Sunderland in league competition this afternoon for the 39th time, dating all the way back to the clubs' first meeting 110 years ago.
Since then, the Mackems have spent almost all of their time in England's top two divisions - prior to their relegation to Sky Bet League One.
From joining the Football League in 1890 all the way through until 1957, Sunderland were a Division One side. This meant there were only 10 years when the Bantams and today’s visitors met in league competition throughout that period. That was during City's golden era, between 1908 and 1922, with the first official meeting on October 24, 1908, as around 20,000 watched Sunderland win 2-0 in Bradford.
FIRST VICTORY AND SUBSEQUENT MEETINGS
City would not have to wait long for their first victory against today’s opponents, though, with Jimmy Speirs and Robert Whittingham (twice) scoring in a 3-1 win at Valley Parade on December 11, 1909. Defeats at home to the Mackems were rare throughout the period both teams were in Division One; in fact, all the way through to 1988, City were only ever beaten three times by Sunderland in Bradford. But after City's relegation to Division Two in 1922, it would take over 60 years for them to meet again in the league. There was a League Cup victory at Sunderland in 1969 in between that, but given how this is only Sunderland's second-ever season in the third-tier of English football, it wouldn't be until 1986, when City fought their way back into Division Two, that they played a league fixture against them. Martin Singleton and John Hendrie scored the goals in a 2-0 win at Leeds Road, Huddersfield.
LEAGUE MEETINGS THIS CENTURY
Fast-forward to the turn of the century, and life in the Premier League was a struggle initially for City - which included a 4-0 home defeat to Sunderland almost 19 years ago to the day on October 2, 1999. However, Paul Jewell's side eventually secured their top-flight status that season, thanks largely to a run of three wins from the final four games. It entailed a John Dreyer goal on April 24, 2000, which proved to be the winner in a 1-0 victory at the Stadium of Light. Our next, and most recent, four league meetings had far less favourable outcomes. They included a 4-1 home defeat on Boxing Day 2000, followed by a 0-0 draw at Sunderland a few weeks later as City were relegated from the top-flight. City's most recent league clash with Sunderland was all the way back on Boxing Day, 2003, when they were beaten, this time 3-0 at the Stadium of Light. Earlier that season, they were defeated 4-0.
MOST RECENT MEETING
While the Bantams haven't played Sunderland in a league game for over 15 years, we did meet the Mackems on one very special afternoon in February, 2015. Having already eliminated FC Halifax Town, Dartford, Millwall and, of course, Chelsea in the FA Cup, Gus Poyet's Sunderland were our opponents in round five - and they were also put to the sword on a memorable afternoon in Bradford. A John O'Shea own goal broke the deadlock against the then-Premier League side, before Jon Stead made it five goals in six games in the FA Cup for City with the second to set up a quarter-final for Phil Parkinson's side against Reading.
Two former Bradford City players return to the club on Saturday afternoon and, while one is currently injured, one member of our legendary 2012/13 ‘history makers’ will almost certainly play. Unfortunately, a knee problem sidelines heritage number #1221 Charlie Wyke, who scored 22 goals in 62 appearances for the Bantams before leaving for Sunderland this summer. However, Jon McLaughlin (#1061) should be involved. He made his debut all the way back in May 2009 against Chesterfield, and was involved in some of the most special memories in the Bantams' recent history. McLaughlin made 145 appearances in all competitions for City.