BILLY KNOTT says the prospect of being just 90 minutes from a potential Wembley appearance will be all the inspiration Bradford City need in next month’s FA Cup quarter-final.
The Bantams, fresh from adding Sunderland to Chelsea on their list of Premier League scalps claimed this season, were last night paired with Championship side Reading
City will host the Royals over the weekend of March 7-8 as the lowest-ranked side still remaining in the competition.
Elsewhere, Manchester United will host Arsenal as Aston Villa take on West Bromwich Albion at Villa Park.
Completing an intriguing-looking last eight that has opened up the possibility of two Football League teams making the semi-finals is Blackburn Rovers’ trip to Liverpool.
From a Yorkshire perspective, however, it is Bradford taking on Reading that is the main talking point.
Taking on a side that sits 17th in the Championship offers a golden chance to reach Wembley, especially as City have already beaten Leeds United and Millwall from the second tier this season.
For manager Phil Parkinson, the tie will be a chance to take on a club where he spent 11 years of his career as a player and made 425 appearances. He was also voted into Reading’s greatest all-time XI by supporters.
The Bantams’ boss and several of his players had made it clear in the wake of seeing off Gus Poyet’s men that they fancied another home tie after relishing the atmosphere that helped City claim a second top-flight scalp in as many rounds on Sunday.
Victory over Steve Clark’s side would be enough to book a return trip to Wembley in the last four.
Knott, one of several heroes in Sunday’s Cup humbling of his old club Sunderland, told The Yorkshire Post: “It is hard not to think about Wembley.
“You have to have an incentive and Wembley as a possible semi-final venue is huge. A perfect one, as every boy dreams of playing there.
“I have never played there, though obviously I know a few of the boys have.
“I have been there a couple of times, but only as a fan, sitting in the stand like a little boy.
“To walk out there would be fantastic and if we do get there we will fully deserved it. I would love to get to Wembley and we will be giving 100 per cent to get there.
“With the fans behind us 100 per cent, we can achieve anything. We have shown that already by winning at Chelsea.
“The next game is like a final. We will work hard, like we do every game. Everybody is starting to see that we are the underdogs in games, but (Sunday) we didn’t look like it, to be honest. We deserve to be where we are.”
As revealed in yesterday’s The Yorkshire Post, City’s coffers will be swelled considerably by the victory over the Black Cats.
Prize money of £180,000 has already been secured, while all four ties in the next stage will be shown live which will earn the Bantams a broadcast fee of £247,500.
Then there will be the gate receipts from taking on Reading to add to the £100,000 banked from the Sunderland win and the £400,000 boost to the coffers that came via the fourth-round visit to Stamford Bridge.
Plus, if City can beat Reading in the quarter-finals, the club would receive a further £360,000 in prize money. The winners at Wembley in April will then get an additional £900,000, double the fee of the side that bows out.
For the players’ satisfaction levels, however, monetary reward is way behind the professional plaudits that are deservedly coming the way of Parkinson’s men during the club’s first run to the last eight since 1976.
Southampton beat City, then of the Fourth Division, at Valley Parade to end that particular run, but Knott believes the current crop has proved in the last two rounds that they fear no one.
He said: “We were so professional (on Sunday) and, credit to the Sunderland players, they clapped us off at the end.
“Everyone on that pitch deserved to win the game and it was a great performance for the city. The atmosphere was fantastic.
“Chelsea was one of those surreal days when we were surprised to win, as anyone would be. But, against Sunderland, I thought we deserved it.
“The fans played their part. That cheer as we came out for the warm-up was the biggest we have had all season, even bigger than the Leeds game at home.
“Throughout the game, they were loud and it was a great day to be proud of.”
Knott is adamant that the fans can play their part once more against Reading at Valley Parade.
He said: “I wanted a home tie. Teams don’t enjoy coming to Valley Parade because our fans get at the opposition and so do we. We play the pitch well.”