STUART McCALL could have been forgiven for looking on with envy at Bradford City’s Cup adventures under Phil Parkinson.
Victories over Chelsea and Sunderland in the FA Cup plus the stirring run to the 2013 League Cup final were in stark contrast to how the Bantams fared in the former Scotland international’s three years at the helm from 2007.
Three first-round exits in the League Cup were followed by two wins and three defeats from five FA Cup ties.
To be fair to McCall, this merely continued what had been a largely wretched record in knockout football stretching back 20 or more years – something that made the subsequent triumphs under Parkinson such a joy to behold for supporters.
“It was pride, not envy that I felt,” he replied when asked by The Yorkshire Post about his emotions as the Bantams earned headlines around the world. “To see Bradford City enjoying such great days in the Cup was brilliant.
“In the Chelsea game, I remember being really pleased to see that Bradford had scored. As a young lad, I had been in the Bradford team that lost 4-1 at Manchester United (in 1983) and remember how pleased we were just to get a goal.
“So, I thought, ‘Even if Bradford get beat now, at least they will always have that goal’. But then the equaliser went in and I saw later that it had finished Chelsea 2 Bradford 4. Incredible stuff. No-one could have envisaged that.
“I was at the Reading home game (in the 2015 quarter-finals). What an atmosphere, probably the best I can recall at Valley Parade. We didn’t get an atmosphere like that even in the Premier League.
“The game itself was poor but the occasion was so memorable. To see 24,000 Bradford fans create an atmosphere like that was special and why I am sure the supporters want another day or two like it.”
Accrington Stanley, City’s conquerors in the League Cup less than three months ago, stand between McCall’s side and a step towards the third round and a possible glamour tie.
“We are determined to go through,” added the Bradford chief, who was on crutches yesterday following a minor knee operation. “Accrington are a good side, they beat Burnley after us and then only lost in the last minute to West Ham in the next round.
“But we want to be in the third round. There are the financial benefits but it is also great from a football point of view.”