Promise of derby days adds drive to Bradford City

AS a player, Glynn Snodin enjoyed some titanic tussles with Bradford City.

Glynn Snodin. Picture: Dan Westwell

He also had a happy knack of scoring against the club where he is now Simon Grayson’s assistant.

One of those goals came late in the 1980-81 season that would end with Doncaster Rovers promoted for the first time under Billy Bremner.

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Another settled a fiery Boxing Day derby clash at Valley Parade that ended with the visitors down to nine men.

Bradford went on to clinch the Third Division title that season, meaning Snodin’s subsequent move a couple of years later to Leeds United via a stint in the top flight with Sheffield Wednesday provided a resumption of a rivalry that had always been kind to the left-back.

Sure enough, Snodin marked his first season at Elland Road with another quality strike against the Bantams in a New Year’s Day triumph that had seen the gates locked well before kick-off with hundreds still outside.

Being taken on a stroll down memory lane by The Yorkshire Post understandably brings a smile to the face of the 58-year-old.

What it also does is underline the point City’s new management team have already made to their new charges about the big bonus that will accompany promotion this term.

Bradford City manager Simon Grayson. Picture: Simon Hulme

“The prospect of all those big derbies in the Championship should be a great incentive,” said Snodin.

“No disrespect to League One, where there are admittedly some cracking clubs like Blackburn and Wigan who have been in the Premier League recently, but the Championship is where you want to be.

“There are some excellent players and teams in that division and Bradford should be up there with them.

“I played in some belting derbies against Bradford over the years, with big crowds and some great battles.

Bradford City manager Simon Grayson. Picture: Simon Hulme

“We are trying to get that over to the players, about just what they could have next season. There are so many big Yorkshire teams up there.

“Sheffield United are in the play-off (spots) and could go up. But, even if that happens, it still leaves a lot of other teams such as Wednesday, Leeds, Barnsley and Hull to face in derbies. I know from experience, as a player and coach, just what big occasions they can be.”

Snodin’s first taste of derby action came at Belle Vue, where he spent nine seasons and made more than 300 appearances.

Two promotions under Bremner were the clear highlight, even for someone who twice finished a season as Doncaster’s top scorer from full-back.

“We had some cracking games with Bradford when I was at Doncaster,” he recalls. “We had Billy, God bless him, as our gaffer and some very gifted players.

“Bradford were a good side, too, and we both went at each other in those games. Greg (Abbott, City’s head of recruitment) was obviously in the team back then, a tough player and very passionate.

“Stuart (McCall) was a lovely footballer as well and had some great battles with (Snodin’s brother) Ian, while I often seemed to be up against John Hendrie.

“I would try and get in the winger’s head a lot of the time and ‘Jocky’ was no different. I’d say to him, ‘Come on then, run at me and let’s see who is the fastest’. I would always back myself in a situation like that. He just looked at me as if I was mad.

“Later, we ended up as team-mates at Leeds. When he got the job at Barnsley, he also wanted me to go there. He is a great lad.”

When Snodin returned to the Broad Acres with Grayson last month it was not those past derby tussles that first sprang to mind, but a previous stint coaching in the county.

“The situation we found here wasn’t a million miles from the one at Huddersfield (in February 2012),” he said.

“We could tell straight away that we had inherited an honest bunch. Stuart, Kenny (Black) and Greg had put together a good squad who are all desperate to do well for the club.

“The mood certainly hasn’t been downbeat. Obviously results have not been good and that is why we are here.

“But we just need to tweak little bits and that is what we are trying to do. There is no need to come in and go crash, bang, wallop because a lot here is right.

“There seems a bit of a mental block at the moment, that’s all. Which is exactly what we found at Huddersfield a few years ago.

“Lee (Clark) had built a good squad and the club was in a good position. It just needed a few tweaks and the problems were minute, more mental than anything else.”

City fans must be hoping the similarities between their club today and Huddersfield six years ago extend to Snodin being back at Wembley in a few months, celebrating a play-off triumph.

This is certainly the aim as Grayson targets a fifth promotion from League One. Three of those came alongside Snodin, the one at Leeds in 2010 made that little bit sweeter by both men being lifelong fans and former players with the Elland Road club.

The enmity many Bradford supporters feel for their United counterparts could, of course, have led to the welcome afforded the new management team being less than warm. Snodin, however, insisted it has been the very opposite.

“Everyone has been brilliant with us,” said the former defender, whose mobile phone ringtone of Marching On Together has raised more than a few eyebrows at previous clubs down the years.

“It was the same at Huddersfield. Obviously, there is a big rivalry there and yet we never had one problem.

“I think people appreciate that everyone supports a team and, obviously, Simon and me support Leeds.

“But our only priority is to do well for our own club. We took Huddersfield up and are every bit as proud of that promotion as the one at Leeds.”

Which begs the question: have the corridors of Valley Parade or City’s Apperley Bridge training ground yet been reverberating to the familiar sounds of Leeds’s club anthem?

“I have got Elvis on my phone now,” says Snodin with a smile. “No one can get upset by that.”