The 2002-2003 season

The season on the field

"I made it"
Dorothy Parker picking up a live time achievement award after a career that outlasted all her peers and a number of suicide attempts.

City improved over the course of this season or perhaps we did not improve so much as we forgot. We forgot that in the summer we had no players, we forgot that the season before we said we would struggle to stay in the division without Stuart McCall, we forgot that players went unpaid and that many of them had cause to be disenchanted at the very least. As we trotted out on the final day of the season against Portsmouth incapable of doing anything but equalling last seasons points tally we forgot that some of those victories in 2001-2002 came from the boot of a 40,000 Italian not a 200 a week kid from Kieghley.

That Nicky Law got within a yard of what was achieved last season is achievement enough for now. Looking at stupid losses such at the home defeats to Gillingham and Walsall City and Law can take a fair bit of criticism. More professional performances and more astute tactical approaches could have shoved us a dozen or so points up the table but this season that is forgivable. The best bet of the season, according to one bookie, was City to go down.

City were blighted by the usual problems with goalkeepers. Gary Walsh picked up an injury early season and never recovered, Aidan Davison is adequate at best. Loan boy Steve Banks made some impressive stops including a last minute penalty save against Norwich before he had to go home injured, fellow loanee Boaz Myhill just couldn't cut the mustard and was shipped back to Villa as defective goods.

Gus Ulhenbeek did a Gunnar Halle of a job at right back looking useful but never really that effective. His sending off against Sheffield United saw him tail spin into a two month spell of bad form in what turns out to be a season long cameo for the Bantams. The left back spot was as always best used by Wayne Jacobs supporting a midfielder going forward.

David Wetherall had his usual abortive season but word has it he is fit for the full 46 next term. One hopes so, when Wetherall played City were an oasis of calm, when Robert Molenaar took to the field chaos ensued. Good Ole Bob is leaving City at the end of this season and while no one would question his commitment he was never worth the 12,000 a week. For every Nottingham Forest at home there was a Nottingham Forest away.

Andy Myers on the other hand is more talented than Molenaar but seems lazy in his approach to the game and will not be missed from the City backline. Defensive sucess of the seaosn was Mark Bower who bounced back from a dip in form with character and verve proving his staying power in the side he is one player who will have to stay looking up the leagues, not down, when transfer offers come in for him.

The right side of midfield has been a problem position. Andy Gray lacked the pace to impress, Simon Francis has made the role his own with some superb displays doing a Ryan Giggs on the wing against Ipswich. Ben Muirhead looks like he would take the place next season after impressing against Burnley, previous occupant Jamie Lawrence performed well in central midfield before shooting off to Walsall with our thanks for five years good service.

The ghost of Stuart McCall hung large over central midfield, especially after ready fit replacement Tom Kearney missed the lion's share of the season with injury. Peter Atherton ended up doing a fine job as anchor man with Simon Francis showings he adaptability to perform the role towards the end of the season. Liverpool's Stephen Warnock spent sometime in the role reasonably before being returned to Anfield claiming to have been a left back all along.

The attacking midfielder role was to be filled by Paul Evans who's season peaked early at Ipswich leaving the road open for Claus Jorgensen to put in a virtuoso display breaking from the middle to get into double figures for the season. When he got the role it looked like Jorgensen would be shipped out to the lower divisions in June, now he will be unlucky not to find a Premiership club. Good luck to him we say, he was our Player of the Season.

Left wing was taken by whoever had no roles elsewhere so Jorgensen, Danny Cadamarteri, Jamie Lawrence and Lewis Emanuel all took the job on. Emanuel did best at it and looks to be set to officially move further forward and be a full time left sided midfielder. City tried getting a new Peter Beagrie in Harpal Singh, it did not work.

Up front City floundered. Ashley Ward's three goals showed the sort of season he had. Michael Proctor looked so good Sunderland took him back and started to play him in the Premiership. Andy Gray saved our skins when he moved into the forward line and got fifteen odd goals and the emergence of Danny Forrest with his three goals in the back end of the season has done much to shape the future of the club kick starting the nameless new era of Bantams football.

Next season everyone is looking for more from the Bantams. Gordon Gibb talks of a play off challenge and Nicky Law seems to quietly believe there is more to come from his side but this year considering all that went on staying in the division was the only realistic target.

We made it.