The Roland Harris Column

Friday 6 June, 2003

Richmond back in football with my best wishes

Geoffrey Richmond is back in football. He is staff now, staff at Notts County and will pick up his pound a week and be a happy chap. I'm happy for him.

Richmond is the devil of course. Everyone has said so. The City Gent bash him on a regular basis and the mention of his name is greeted with a flurry of distain. Me, I like the man.

"Am I an idiot", "Don't I know what he did to City", "Have I no idea how much he took out of the club". Yes to all of the above. I was there. I saw City turn into a battle between the chairman and the crowd and I saw the crowd win.

Winners always write the history books.

Geoffrey Richmond was a pox on City and ruined the club. Say it with a straight face I dare you.

We all know Richmond's crimes. Benito Carbone and "the summer of madness", taking football consultancy fees after promotion that should have gone on bids for Per Frandsen and Marcus Stewart, taking the club into administration although I've never been able to understand if we are supposed to hate him for the act of doing that or just for being in that situation.

Who cares about the change in the game that has done for more clubs than Bradford City? Who cares that City's debts in August 2002 of 33m were less than the assets of 42m in August 2000 and that administration was caused by the collapse of the transfer market rendering those assets worthless?

No one is interested in the truth, just in spinning the truth to back up his or her own arguments. I know this because I can, and have, argued the toss on why Richmond was the best thing that ever happened to Bradford City (I don't think he was but as regular readers will know, I like a good row) based on taking things that people see as bad and making them sound good. You could argue that without Richmond taking us to the Premiership and getting the crowds up from 3,000 to 15,000 that kids like Danny Forrest would be at Elland Road, not interested in the Bantams. You can argue anything if you want, especially where Geoffrey is concerned.

One thing that you can't argue about the old chairman though is this. He has raised the bar at Bradford City.

There was a time when this was a club happy to make do. We chugged along in the lower leagues hoping that one day we might get enough young lads through at the same time to have a Stuart McCall/John Hendrie side. We got by.

Gordon Gibb and Nicky Law are looking at the play offs next season and people are talking about sacking Law if he does not make it. If penniless Bradford City are not in the top 26 teams in the country then the manager is sacked. That is a raised bar.

Geoffrey Richmond woke this club up to what it could be. He raised the bar and he gave this club, this City, something it never had had in my shirt lifetime: Self-belief.

So he is back with Notts County. I hope he does well.

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