Valley Parade


Architectural plan of the ground
Valley Parade was constructed from a bare hillside in the summer of 1886 by Manningham Rugby Club. They had been displaced from their Carlisle Road ground to facilitate the construction of Drummond Road School.
The basic 18,000 capacity ground opened on 25th September 1886, when visitors Wakefield Trinity narrowly defeated Manningham in front of a near capacity crowd.
Unfortunately it wasn't long before the ground's shortcomings were exposed. On Christmas Day, 1888 during a local derby against Heckmondwike, a surge in the packed crowd caused a barrier to collapse on the Midland Road. Several boys were trapped and 12-year-old Thomas Coyl was killed.
The ground on which Bradford City played their first fixture was virtually unaltered since its opening, seventeen years previously. On 25th September 1903, Gainsborough Trinity arrived at football's newest venue and once again Valley Parade's big party was spoilt by a visitors' victory with Trinity winning 3-1.
v Manchester City, 1908
It was City's promotion to the First Division in 1908 that sparked a huge building programme. During the summer of 1908 the ground was almost completely revamped.
The 'Manningham End' terrace was doubled in size to provide the Spion Kop. The club purchased two properties in Burlington Terrace adjoining the Kop for use as offices and dressing rooms. A tunnel was built from the cellars to provide access to the pitch.
Valley Parade in 1922 - picture shows the West Riding Cup being presented to Huddersfield Town, with the Kop in the background
A new Main Stand with 5,300 seats and terracing for 7,000 should have been the centrepiece. However, the elegant gabled Midland Road stand, though it had no seating, caught the eye and became the backdrop for decades of team pictures - including the famous Cup winners of 1911.
During the Second World War Valley Parade was requisitioned by the military (in 1944 the ground was only available to the club for first team fixtures on Saturdays). By the time that League football restarted in 1946 City were the owners of a ramshackle stadium and were forced to appeal to supporters for contributions to its Ground Repair Fund.
In August 1948, Bradford Corporation ordered a 75% reduction in the capacity of the Midland Road stand to a mere 2,000 spectators. The decision was based on structural weaknesses. In late August 1951, work began on dismantling the stand. The frame of the stand was sold to Berwick Rangers for £450 and it was transported by rail to Shielfield Park where its erection cost Rangers a further £3,000.
Valley Parade remained three-sided until 1954 when a modest plain cover was erected and later that year City's first floodlights were installed on telegraph poles along each side of the ground.
In 1960 the Midland Road was subject to a structural survey, City were unable to afford the £12,000 necessary to make the stand safe and the Council ordered its demolition.
In March 1960 the club spent £14,000 on second-hand floodlights from West Ham United. The old lights were installed at Myra Shay where they were used by City to illuminate the training ground.
In 1961 work to the value of £45,000 commenced on the construction of the current changing rooms and the Bradford End was also covered.
The ground remained three-sided until the summer of 1966. 32-year old chairman Stafford Heginbotham rolled up his sleeves and led a team of volunteers to undertake the ground improvements. The buildings at the bottom of Burlington Terrace were finally demolished during the 1966 close season and the old tunnel was sealed.
The narrow strip on the Midland Road side remained open to the elements until completion of the now 'famous' shed in February 1968.
Valley Parade in 1971
Throughout the 1973-4 season, the ground was shared with Bradford Park Avenue.
Valley Parade remained virtually unaltered until the fire disaster of 1985. For a while it seemed that City were destined to leave Valley Parade; however, the fans thought otherwise and were central to the return on 14th December 1986, when City played an England XI in a reopening friendly.
A new Main Stand on South Parade and an extensively rebuilt and covered Kop were the centrepieces of the new stadium. The Bradford End and Midland Road, though heavily rebuilt, were almost unaltered.
In 1991 work commenced on providing seating accommodation at the Bradford End. The new double-decker stand was built to a tight £600,000 budget. Though it didn't increase the ground's capacity, it at least brought the Bradford End up to an acceptable standard.
Another eight years would pass before Geoffrey Richmond announced the construction of a 4,500 seater stand on the Midland Road. It opened on Boxing Day 1996 for the Yorkshire derby against Sheffield United.
The stand was officially opened by Her Majesty the Queen on 27th March 1997.
View from the Kop, 1999
City's promotion to the Premiership sparked a rebuilding programme almost on the scale of the 1908 transformation. Work began on the new Kop stand in December 1998, the £2.5m two-tier stand. With a capacity of 7,486, it was first used for a pre-season friendly against Barnsley in the summer of 1999.
The corner between the Kop and Main Stand was filled in, adding 2,300 to the ground's capacity. What became known as the North West Corner opened on Boxing Day 2000 when Sunderland visited Valley Parade.
The final piece of the Premiership developments was the complete rebuilding of the Main Stand, which commenced in the summer of 2000. Costing some £7.5m, it took the ground's capacity to over 25,000. Unfortunately, when it was fully used for the first time for a pre-season friendly against Blackburn Rovers in the summer of 2001, City had been relegated to Division One (currently The Championship).