Bradford City v Northampton Town: Bantams look to apply winning gloss to tributes to Bobby Campbell

Bradford City manager Stuart McCall, third from left, seen with the late Bobby Campbell on his left in 1997 when the Queen opened a new stand at Valley Parade (Picture: Bruce Rollinson).
Bradford City manager Stuart McCall, third from left, seen with the late Bobby Campbell on his left in 1997 when the Queen opened a new stand at Valley Parade (Picture: Bruce Rollinson).
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A FEARLESS and lion-hearted leader of men, Bobby Campbell’s defiance and determination to win on the football field knew no bounds.

His former Bradford City team-mate Stuart McCall will remember those qualities when everyone of a City persuasion pays tribute to the life of a claret-and-amber cult hero this evening –with McCall’s hope being that the hosts can deliver a performance befitting of Campbell’s redoubtable qualities.

McCall acknowledges that, in a perfect world, it will see James Hanson – the closest player that City have to the prototype that was Campbell – providing a winning goal with a trademark booming centre-forward’s header, the like of which the club’s record scorer would have been proud.

It remains to be seen if that transpires, but City boss McCall is sure of one thing: that those who step out of the home dressing room will not be short of inspiration when Bradfordians remember their legendary No 9, following his sad passing last week at the age of 60.

A poignant farewell to the Northern Irishman, who scored 143 goals during two spells with City spanning seven years, and also counted Huddersfield Town, Halifax Town and Sheffield United among his other clubs, will feature a celebration of his life in the ninth minute.

Fans will be urged to chant ‘One Bobby Campbell’ and light up their mobile phones, while earlier, at 7.30pm, a two-and-a-half minute video montage of his City career will be shown on the club’s new giant LED screen.

Members of Campbell’s family will also lay a wreath in the centre circle before kick-off followed by a minute’s applause.

On City players hopefully during their bit to honour the memory of Campbell with a fitting victory, McCall said: “I would like us to give a performance that is brave, courageous and battling with a few goals – all that Bobby was about.

“Leadership in football is definitely going out of the game as are genuine characters. Bobby was both.

“The club, allied with Bobby’s family, have got it spot on with the minute’s applause – rather than a silence – and the ninth minute tribute.

“It will be an emotional night, but I don’t think the family will want it to be sad or sombre. It’s a joyous occasion.

“There will be supporters coming through the turnstiles still visioning Bobby out there. I can still picture his goal against Liverpool in 1980 when he followed in the knock-down.

“It will be fitting if we can put in a proper performance and big (James) Hanson puts one in from the penalty spot – if he is playing or coming off the bench.

“We are going to mark it respectfully, but also in a celebration of Bobby’s life rather than a sadness.”

Campbell’s sudden passing may have affected deeply over the past week those with Bradford City in their hearts, but countless joyous memories of time spent alongside the legendary striker in the Eighties have provided McCall with an antidote to the grief.

McCall said: “Bobby was larger than life and a character.

“It’s very sad that he is no longer with us, naturally, but you don’t have to dig deep to think of good things about Bobby, too.

“Every time someone mentions Bobby to me, it brings a smile to my face. You think of so many things that happened on and off the football pitch.

“You remember the goals, the antics, the anger on the pitch – we won 6-2 and he had (John) Hendrie and (Mark) Ellis by their throats because he never scored.

“I could say so many stories from my apprenticeship from 16 to 18. Bobby helped me in so many ways to become a footballer.

“Hopefully, it will be a good night for him. It will be nice to toast him afterwards with a beer in celebration of a win.”

While a home victory tonight would prove apt on such an emotional night, City are also motivated by events from the weekend, when they went down to a 3-0 defeat at Southend, the heaviest defeat of the McCall reign so far.

It represented a reality check according to midfielder Josh Cullen, who admits that he and his team-mates will not be short of incentives this evening.

Cullen said: “The scoreline at the weekend was not a fair reflection, but it is a wake-up call.

“It was the first really disappointing day we have had in the league this season.

“Obviously we lost at Oxford, but that was in the last minute.”

On the evening’s wider significance, he added: “It will be emotional.

“The tribute that the players can pay to Bobby Campbell is putting in a good performance and getting three points for him.

“It will be a special night and hopefully we can do it justice.”

Last six games: Bradford DWLLWL, Northampton WWWDLL.

Referee: C Sarginson (Staffs).

Last time: Bradford 1 Northampton 0; April 6, 2013; League Two.