Connor Wood has no complaints over Bradford City’s hectic schedule

Bradford's Connor Wood. Picture: Jonathan GawthorpeBradford's Connor Wood. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Bradford's Connor Wood. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe
It is not unusual to hear complaints about the amount of football in this ridiculously hectic 2020-21 season, but Connor Wood’s only complaint is that there is not enough.

Not since August 10 2019 have Bradford City played a minute of League Two football without left-back Wood on the field, so it makes the 24-year-old smile when he hears those higher up football’s food chain with their pristine pitches and high-tech recovery methods complain about too many games.

After only five matches in the last seven weeks thanks to the weather and Covid-19, Wood is looking forward to getting back on the Saturday-Tuesday treadmill now both seem to be improving.

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“Having played every minute, especially in a league like this where you’ve got a 46-game season, the pitches aren’t in the best of conditions like in the Premier League – they’re a lot heavier, especially at this time of year so it takes a lot more out of your legs – you do look at it and take it with a pinch of salt when those managers higher up are complaining,” says Wood, who plays in arguably the most physically demanding positions of the modern era having been a wing-back under Stuart McCall and a full-back under his successors Mark Trueman and Conor Sellars.

“But I’m just focusing on myself and as long as I’m available every game and playing 90 minutes, I’ll be happy.

“I feel like it’s a lot easier when the games are coming thick and fast, just going game by game Saturday to Tuesday and you can get into that routine. You have less time to think about how tired you are.

“With (Bradford’s recent) postponements and a two-week gap between the games it is hard, and you especially feel it in the first half, you’re blowing out the cobwebs a little bit because you’ve lost a little bit of game sharpness.

“It does throw you off a little bit.

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“I count myself very lucky and fortunate that I’ve been fit for that long and not even had any niggles or anything lie that and been able to make myself available and I’m grateful that whatever manager we’ve had at the time has had the belief to start me in those games.”

The root of Wood’s durability comes from the first lockdown, where he showed a professionalism that would put some of his higher-paid counterparts to shame.

“April, May last year when football was still up in the air for us as a league and there was still the possibility of completing the (2019-20) season so I told myself whatever happens it’s going to be horrible for the body,” he explains.

“I just said to myself you’ve got to be fully prepared because like you saw with the return to the Prem at the end of last season there were loads of injuries.

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“There were no gyms available so I got online and ordered any weights I could find because it was like trying to buy gold at that point.

“Luckily where my mum and dad live down south we’ve got a big field behind us with football pitches so I was fortunate to be able to get out every day and do my fitness.

“The main thing was getting into a routine. That was the main obstacle I found in the first lockdown, trying to get into a routine. On my phone I made a note of a routine I’d do every week and told myself to stick to it.

“I did that for a few months, did my runs, did my gym work. It was only a few hours a day but enough to stay in shape and keep fit.

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“It was easy to motivate myself because otherwise I’d just be stuck in the house all day with nothing to do. It was the only time I had to get out and do something because that was the only thing you could get out and do at that time.

“I just can’t sit still at home, I’ve always got to be doing something and the more I did the easier it was for me, especially mentally. Exercising was a way to let off steam and have a bit of time to myself because otherwise you’re on top of each other with no free time to yourself, which I thought was important for me at that time.

“I hadn’t lived with my mum or dad for five or six years so it was a big difference to what I was used to and it gave them some space as well. It cleared my head a bit. Sometimes I’d go out for a bike ride just to clear my head and the mental side was just as important as the physical side.”

That Trueman and Sellars, McCall and his predecessor Gary Bowyer have all wanted Wood as a mainstay in their City teams speaks to more than just his staying power.

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“We’ve had several managers and to have all of them believe in me and play me week in, week out, it’s a massive confidence boost,” he reflects.

“There’s been different positions – left wing at one point, left-back and left mid(field), even centre mid.

“It’s massive for the confidence and the self esteem to know the managers who have been here have really believed in me in any position I play and have trusted me.”

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