History Revisited

Who We Are – new bantamspast book by Jason McKeown


who we are cover

Ask a hundred fans of a Premier League football club what it means to be a fan of their club and you could get a hundred different answers. Ask a hundred Bradford City fans what it means to be a Bradford City fan, however, you probably won’t, and Jason McKeown’s excellent book “Who We Are: Exploring The DNA Of Bradford City” explains why.

In late 2018, when it feels necessary to understand who we are, what we want to be and what our club should represent, Jason’s book paints a clear picture of how the club and its supporters have, against the odds, together reached the present day from the early days of the twentieth century.

The history of the club, the city and Bradford’s other sporting institutions are woven together cleverly but also lightly, without getting bogged down in minutiae, and the stories of those involved in the club’s rise between 2012 and 2016, especially, are essential reading. It’s no surprise to learn that those who not only brought success to the club during that period, but also infused the supporters with positivity and expanded the club’s fan-base dramatically, all had a deep understanding of the city, the club and the supporters.

Only time will tell whether the positivity and togetherness of the recent past can be repeated, but regardless, Jason’s conclusions should remind us supporters that when we unite we are a powerful force and can help the club to succeed both on and off the pitch.



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WHO WE ARE is the fifth volume in the Bantamspast History Revisited series.

Between them, the different books provide a definitive record of the origins of sport and professional football in Bradford, its development and historical context through to the modern day. By revisiting the evidence the series debunks the myths and superficial narratives that have been told previously. The five titles each address distinct themes and are all original in their coverage. They provide a unique collection that is indispensable reading for City supporters wanting to better understand the heritage of their club. 

Jason’s previous book, REINVENTING BCAFC (2016) was the second volume in the History Revisited series. Further details on this website.

The History Revisited project

1914-04-27 BPA cartoonWhilst researching his book A HISTORY OF BCAFC IN OBJECTS during 2012-14, author John Dewhirst realised that a lot of what had previously been written or said about the history of Bradford City AFC and its predecessor, Manningham FC was either grossly simplistic, misleading or simply incorrect. The legend of Park Avenue and the story of the original Bradford Football Club was equally distorted. This prompted the objective to publish a series of books to debunk the myths and superficial narratives that have been told about the origins and history of sport and professional football in Bradford.

The intention is to publish a collection of books to provide a definitive history of Bradford soccer from the beginnings until the present day. Where possible the books will incorporate a wealth of illustrative content to allow long forgotten artefacts to be featured. The series is self-published. Financial budgets are set on the basis of achieving break-even rather than profit which means that wherever possible content does not have to be sacrificed to satisfy a publisher’s targets. In so doing we have the freedom to publish what we want rather than comply with inflexible formats. However we are committed to producing books of high quality, in particular with hard cover subscriber editions. A further principle is that each of our books has been produced and printed wholly in Bradford by a local printer, in this case the long-established firm Hart & Clough based in Cleckheaton. Accordingly we are proud to demonstrate a commitment to the local economy rather than seek economy options offshore.

We are delighted to announce the release in October, 2018 of a fifth volume in the series by Jason McKeown. For details about WHO WE ARE: EXPLORING THE DNA OF BRADFORD CITY AFC check the drop down menu on this site.






Life at the Top (vol 4)



LIFE AT THE TOP continues the story of the Bradford FC and Manningham FC rivalry, covering their their secession from the rugby union and the background to their conversion to association football. It challenges existing explanations of how and why the Northern Union – precursor to the Rugby League – was formed in 1895. It is of equal interest to rugby and soccer fans and also provides a fresh perspective to the urban and social history of Victorian Bradford.

This book covers the controversial merger debate of 1907 when Bradford City members opted to remain independent and reject a move to Park Avenue. It continues through to the following year when Bradford City won the championship of Division Two and achieved a place in the sun with promotion to the first division.

Room at the Top and Life at the Top were featured among The Guardian Review of the Best Sports Books of 2016


Room at the Top (vol 3)


The third volume, ROOM AT THE TOP by John Dewhirst  tells the origins of professional football in Bradford and the nineteenth century rivalry of Manningham FC and Bradford FC that shaped their twentieth century relationship as members of the Football League.

It challenges a number of the superficial narratives that have been told previously about the rivalry of the two clubs but provides coverage of the origins of activities as diverse as cricket, gymnastics, rowing and cycling. It also tells the long forgotten military heritage of Manningham FC and Bradford FC and the story of how Valley Parade and Park Avenue were developed.

Review in the RL Journal



Reinventing Bradford City (vol 2)


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“Rather than paraphrasing their recollections, he just lets people speak. It makes for quite a wordy read but a fascinating one.

“There is a better sense of immediacy because the quotes flow….Hindsight is obviously used to place each game within a specific era but it is not overplayed. This feels like genuine memories from those involved not hurried re-writes taken from the Internet…There are so many more anecdotes; little nuggets from so many sources that fill in the blanks.

“The Bradford City story post-1985 may be a familiar one but this version is told in a refreshing way.”

Simon Parker, Telegraph & Argus

“The book is passionately written and each chapter beautifully evokes a period in time as the club punches above it weight, sinks to the canvas (more than once) before landing a knockout blow or two and, hopefully, continues building another age of Bantam Progressivism. McKeown captures the various moods perfectly and this book will be treasured by City fans of all ages.”

Nick Bealand


About the book

Few football clubs have experienced a more dramatic modern history than Bradford City. After emerging from the trauma of the 1985 Valley Parade fire, the Bantams have taken their loyal supporters on a rollercoaster ride up and down the divisions; tasting the bright lights of the Premier League and then treading down the dark path towards financial ruin. Now they’re fighting back again. Climbing back up from the canvas, and dishing out a bloody nose or two to the game’s elite.

Writer Jason McKeown has chosen 12 of the biggest Bradford City matches, from the past 30 years, to tell the story of the glorious and turbulent modern history of the club. Interviewing many of the key figures along the way, including Stuart McCall and Phil Parkinson, this is the definitive account of how Bradford City has continued to reinvent itself to its public.


  • The barely told story of City’s short-lived spell playing at Odsal, following the fire
  • The Nearly Season: the sparkling football, the agony and THAT fall out
  • The rebirth of Bradford City under Geoffrey Richmond, via a barmy night out in Blackpool
  • The rise to the top, and Premier League football, following a stellar promotion season
  • The damning consequences of six weeks of madness, and how it left City fighting for their own survival
  • The re-emergence of Bradford City under Phil Parkinson, and the inside story of the epic cup runs of 2013 and 2015

In addition to Stuart McCall and Phil Parkinson, REINVENTING BRADFORD CITY also includes interviews with the likes of James Hanson, Andrew Davies, Terry Dolan, Mark Ellis, Jamie Lawrence, Michael Flynn, Lee Duxbury, Julian Rhodes, David Baldwin, James Mason and Simon Parker.

A History of BCAFC in Objects (vol 1)

A History of BCAFC in Objects (1)

A HISTORY OF BRADFORD CITY AFC IN OBJECTS by John Dewhirst records the change and continuity at Valley Parade since 1903 through surviving ephemera, memorabilia and club relics. It provides a fresh examination of the history of Bradford City and the match day experience through an extensive selection of items including BCAFC publications, merchandise and collectables. It tells the previously untold story of organised supporter groups at Valley Parade and the efforts of those who have raised funds to keep the club alive. The aim of the book is twofold. Firstly to tell the history of BCAFC through objects on the basis that they provide evidence about events and circumstances that is often lacking from other sources such as old newspaper accounts. Secondly to make the club’s history accessible to supporters through vivid presentation to demonstrate the acceleration of change since the tragic fire disaster in 1985. It incorporates new findings about the history of the club and has uncovered long forgotten details.

The history of the world was told in one hundred objects but that of BCAFC is told in more than a thousand, each of which is featured in full colour. Old objects can provide a better sense of how things have changed than words, facts and figures alone.

This book goes a long way to help younger supporters comprehend the differences and to remind older fans of what has been left behind. The content of A HISTORY OF BRADFORD CITY AFC IN OBJECTS will appeal to supporters of all ages and it provides a definitive and nostalgic record of City memorabilia. It will also be of interest to followers of other clubs and those interested in the history of the game with its chronicle of developments in soccer merchandising, the evolution of match day programmes and the contribution of supporter organisations.

The book has had some great reviews, including from Simon Parker in the T&A: ‘a unique way of following the club’s path to the present day. I can’t recommend it highly enough’  and ‘a unique way of following the club’s path to the present day. I can’t recommend it highly enough.’

Acclaimed author Hunter Davies (of Beatles fame) described it as ‘the best illustrated history of any club he has ever read’ and City supporters have similarly acclaimed it as possibly the best book published ever about the Bantams.

David Conn in The Guardian wrote ‘A History of Bradford City AFC in Objects, a new book by lifelong supporter John Dewhirst, appears not much more promising than a compulsive collection of memorabilia – but it is much more than the sum of its badges, pennants and other ephemera which the author admits his wife and three daughters would eagerly de-clutter tomorrow. Any risk of appearing parochial is avoided by the care with which the objects are set out, the clean design and Dewhirst’s detailed explanations. It adds up to a labour of love, testament to a cherished institution and the 111 years in which it has played.’  Review here