France-Belgium 2014

And so the fourth annual bantamspast trip to the battlefields of the Great War is over. A party of twenty-six travelled around northern France in glorious sunshine, paying another pilgrimage to recognise the sacrifice and tragedy of those lost fighting in what should have been the war to end all wars.

The poignancy of locations such as Vimy Ridge, now a Canadian national historic site, where 3,598 Canadians lost their lives taking the strategic ridge, or France’s Notre Dame de Lorette Cemetery where 22,970 French soldiers have found their final resting place, is impossible for even the most casual visitor to ignore. However, equally effecting are places such as the tiny British cemetery at the village of Ors where Wilfred Owen, one of the greatest war poets, is buried, or the Le Trou Aid Post Cemetery, the beautiful last resting place of three Bradford Pals.

At many of the locations we visited research by members of the group ensured that we were able to pay our respects to Bradfordians buried so far from home. Their surnames and the streets where they lived were familiar to us. From Exeter Street to Leeds Road; Manningham Lane to Toller Lane, we stood and remembered our fellow townsmen. The one Bradford City link came at Bethune where we visited to grave of John Ayrton, the son of Bradford City’s first ever chairman Alfred Ayrton. We were asked by his niece (Alfred’s granddaughter who still lives in Manningham) to lay flowers at his grave. We were delighted to do it and remember a man whose father helped found our football club and even came up with the name ‘Bradford City’.

Next year we begin to enter the period where the centenaries of the deaths of the nine Bradford City players killed in the Great War begin. The first will be Gerald Kirk, who died on 24 April 1915. We hope to be at his graveside in Belgium one hundred years to the day after his untimely death.


bantamspast Re-opens in a Book

A History of Bradford City AFC in Objects

A 330+ page, all colour book; planned publication at the end of September/early October, 2014.

The book records the changing match day experience at Valley Parade and the acceleration of change in the last thirty years, coincidentally since the fire disaster. The content of the book promises to be unique in comparison to histories previously written about football clubs in Britain, let alone Bradford City AFC. This is not a statistical record about players or games, it is literally an illustrated history of the club in objects but not limited to the popular '100 objects only' formula.

A History of Bradford City AFC In Objects has been written and compiled by John Dewhirst who has one of the largest and most comprehensive private collections of BCAFC memorabilia. The book will include items from his collection supplemented with that provided by other collectors and supporters as well as material previously featured in the bantamspast museum. Most of the content has never previously been displayed or included in earlier publications.

John was co-founder of The City Gent in 1984. He previously compiled City Memories in 1997 and has assisted with a number of books about the club including Of Boars and Bantams in 1988, Along The Midland Road in 1996, Glorious 1911 in 2010 and Paraders: The 125 Year History of Valley Parade in 2011. John has also been involved with a number of projects celebrating the history of the club and in April, 2011 he organised the sell-out dinner at the Midland Hotel to commemorate the centenary of the FA Cup triumph.

Profits from the sale of the book will go to Bradford City AFC. Proceeds of badge and book sales will fund historic displays in Valley Parade to keep the club’s history alive and accessible.

Subscriber copies can be ordered until 31 August, 2014. Subscriber copies will have a different cover to those which go on general sale in the autumn.

Ordered copies can be collected from Valley Parade either at a launch event (tba) in the 1911 Club or from reception. Copies can be posted to those unable to collect in person.

We are also promoting a number of limited edition badges. These are strictly limited to one each per person. The badges will be posted separately to the books.

If you wish to collect the badges in person before a forthcoming game at Valley Parade then please notify by email to

glorious1911 at

Payment can be made by paypal through prior arrangement. Otherwise please make cheques payable to bantamspast.