BEING the public face of a struggling business is not easy. Just ask Mark Lawn.
A little over three years ago, the Bantams joint chairman had his car vandalised by irate fans after a defeat at Accrington Stanley.
The disgraceful incident left Lawn, a lifelong fan who joined the board in 2007, contemplating his future at Valley Parade.
Thankfully for City, he decided to stay put as the withdrawal of his £1m loan would have had serious repercussions and there is a very real chance that the club might not have even been around to enjoy what has been a stunning turnaround in fortunes.
A second trip to Wembley inside three months awaits Bradford today with the prize at stake being a place in next season’s League One.
For Lawn, too, there has been a realisation among supporters of the role he has played in keeping the Bantams going – as was evident after the semi-final second leg win at Burton 13 days ago when the 1,700 visiting Bradfordians sang his name.
“It was nice to get that sort of reaction off the fans,” admits the businessman, who away from football has endured a difficult time due to wife Yvonne’s ongoing fight against cancer. “I really wasn’t expecting it.
“I hadn’t wanted to be on the pitch but I’d made a promise to my son. He was in with our fans behind the goal and I promised to go and get him if we reached Wembley. I tried to put it off but my daughter made sure I went to get him.
“As I walked across and applauded the fans, that is when they started singing. It was very touching and gave the whole family a lift during what is a really difficult time with what is happening to my wife.”
Lawn’s arrival at Valley Parade came during the summer of 2007 and just a few weeks after the club had been relegated to League Two.
Since then, the Bantams have played 319 league and cup games and, until this season, memorable ones had been few and far between. That has, of course, all changed thanks to the heroics of a team who made history by reaching a major domestic final from the basement division.
Promotion today would be the fairytale ending and Lawn believes Bradford can prevail against the Cobblers.
He said: “The experience of playing at Wembley should help. I have read that Aidy Boothroyd disagrees with that but I think it will stand us in good stead.
“We are going down there to do a job. Football-wise, this season has been great. Two Wembley trips is beyond anyone’s wildest dreams but we have to finish the job. It would be a shame to let it slip now, especially after all the hard work that Phil and the players have put in.
“The bottom line is that if we play like we did in the away leg at Burton, we will go up. But if we play like we did at Valley Parade in the first leg, we won’t.”