Bradford City v Sheffield United: Reunion with Parkin produces fond memories for Clough

THIS afternoon will see friends reunited on the touchline at Valley Parade as two former England Under-21 team-mates look to get one over the other.

Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough.

Sheffield United manager 
Nigel Clough and Bradford City assistant Steve Parkin made four appearances together sporting the Three Lions in 1988.

The pair have remained pals ever since but that friendship will be put aside today as Clough urges his Blades side to make up for their last derby no-show.

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“I played with Steve in the Under-21s,” said Clough, who went on to make 15 appearances for the Under-21s to the five caps earned by Parkin. “It was about 27 or 28 years ago, I think.

“He was at Stoke at the time and the Under-21s had over-age players. I am sure he won’t appreciate me for saying this but he was one of them.

“He looked a little bit older than us all, as he does now to be fair. I have come across Steve plenty of times since and he is a really good bloke. A top football man but a nice bloke, too.

“I have a lot of respect for Steve and he is very knowledgeable. Sadly, I can’t give you any dressing room secrets about him – because, to be truthful, I can’t remember any.

“There will be some, I am sure. But I struggle to remember last week, let alone nearly 30 years ago.”

Both clubs will go into today’s televised fixture with memories of a disappointing derby clash fresh in the mind.

For Bradford, it is last Sunday’s 3-1 loss at Barnsley. United, meanwhile, crashed to a 3-2 defeat at Chesterfield a fortnight ago in a contest that saw both teams reduced to 10 men.

Michael Higdon misses the visit to Valley Parade as a result of that defeat to the Spireites, the striker being due to serve the last of a three-game ban incurred for his dismissal on the half hour.

Clough, who was not in charge of United when they lost 2-0 at Bradford early last season, is calling for a big improvement from the disappointing showing in north Derbyshire that saw his side fall three goals behind before launching a belated comeback that proved to be just too late.

The United manager said: “Bradford are a good club and it should be an exciting game. They are a big club and we are going to a big stadium. My players who do that every other week should look forward to that.

“They know how to handle the occasion, albeit we might not have done that before at Chesterfield (in our last derby).

“Sometimes, you do just need a little reminder to yourself every now and then. Hopefully, that was ours.”