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Heartbreak ' of '85 fire still lives with us; Sunday Mirror Sport looks at what it would mean for one of WEMBLEY SPOTLIGHT these two great clubs to win the Capital One Cup next Sunday. Ken Gorman and Lindsay Sutton give their expert opinions.

Byline: LINDSAY SUTTON

THE long wait for Bradford City fans is nearly over.

Our club is 110 years old and we've been waiting 102 years to get back into a major cup final.

The Valley Parade men did win the FA Cup in 1911.

And thereby hangs a tale, told to me as a young Bradford lad by my Great Uncle Albert - the 'Sage of Cleckheaton, the Fountain of All Sporting Knowledge'.

Great Uncle Albert and his brother Arthur, witnessed 'The Great Day' when Bradford City punched above their Bantam weight to put Newcastle United's Magpies to flight in the FA Cup Final replay at Old Trafford.

They had drawn 0-0 in the Crystal Palace Final - Wembley wasn't opened until 1923.

What was even better was the fact that Albert and Arthur got in for nowt, after the Old Trafford gates burst open under the pressure of the Bradford hordes that had crossed the Pennines by train and charabancs.

Next Sunday, a similar band of Bradford brothers - and their sisters - will follow in the footsteps of Albert and Arthur for a Grand Day Out, to see the lowly Bantams take on the high-flying Swans in the Capital One Cup Final showdown at Wembley.

Swansea have to be favourites. but the Bantams are no featherweights and, already, they have wrung the necks of three top-flight clubs - Wigan, Arsenal and Aston Villa.

It seems a long way from the days when I first watched Bradford.

That was way back in their last year in the old Third Division North. After that followed the miserable diet of Fourth Division clogging fare, when City played on a quagmire pitch that resembled the Mississippi Delta.

Only when I first went away with them to Barnsley did I realise football could be played on dry land.

In the midst of this virtually perpetual gloom, Great Uncle Albert decided I'd suffered enough and took me to see a young lad called Denis Law (below) play at Huddersfield.

It was the equivalent of Saul's conversion on the road to Damascus. The scales were lifted from my eyes.

Then Uncle Ron took me to Burnley to see the top-flight Champions play a brand of football I'd never experienced before - on the deck, accurate passing, purposeful, and full of flair.

But I still stuck with Bradford City as my first love. There were some great moments: beating Manchester United in the old League Cup; seeing off Everton and Spurs and drawing with Burnley, in epic FA Cup encounters.

The heartbreak of the 1985 fire that claimed 56 lives still lives with us, but so does knocking on the top-flight door soon afterwards. Plus that wonderful, but short-lived promotion to the Premier League in 1999, proving Great Uncle Albert wrong for once.

Back in 1922, when the Bantams were relegated from the top flight, with Manchester United, he predicted: "We'll be back soon enough."

The Reds got back considerably sooner than us.

But Swansea should beware. Our motto is: "Keep calm and wait for penalties." We haven't lost in our last nine shoot-outs - and hope springs eternal in Bradford. It has to.

LINDSAY SUTTON

CAPTION(S):

HOURDisaster struck, and sadly 56 fans died in the Bradford fire of 1985 sDARKEST
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 17, 2013
Words:539
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