AN indication of just how much of a tailspin Bradford City’s 2006-07 season descended into came with the Player of the Year award going to someone who had left in January.
Nathan Doyle, then just a couple of weeks into his 20s, was the player in question after being recalled by parent club Derby and sold to Hull City just a few hours later.
City had been 14th in League One when Doyle left, but just two wins in the final 15 games saw the club slide into the basement division, a level they had last left a quarter-of-a-century earlier.
Six seasons on and the Bantams are still there, Doyle having gone on to spend two-and-a-half years at the KC Stadium and then three years with Barnsley.
Released by the Reds last summer, Bradford manager Phil Parkinson pulled off something of a coup to bring Doyle to the basement division and the midfielder is delighted to see the smiles have returned to Valley Parade.
He said: “I still get that ‘wow’ feeling when I wake up and realise we are going to play at Wembley in the League Cup final. It is a massive achievement in anyone’s career.
“When I came to Bradford (last summer), I could never have predicted this. A League Two club just doesn’t go to a Wembley final like this.
“It is nice to have helped make this happen, as I was gutted when I saw what happened to Bradford after I left (in January, 2007). The club was in mid-table so it was not nice to then watch Bradford get relegated. I was at Hull, but my heart sank every time I saw them edge closer to going down. I knew what impact relegation would have on everyone.
“That was the downside of football and it can be cruel.
“But this is the other side of the game and let’s hope we can get the result everyone at this club deserves because so much hard work has gone into transforming things.
“The facilities at the training ground are massively different to my first spell. We used to travel from the ground to training every day back then, which wasn’t ideal.
“We now have a base (at Woodhouse Grove School) and also have a lot more staff now – the sports science, physios etcetera. Bradford City has really kicked on.”