Bradford  Association Club (1888)

The first Bradford Association club was formed with little or no fanfare at a public meeting on 22nd September 1888, just a fortnight after the first ever matches in the Football League.  The club's home ground was in Thornbury but the exact location is unknown. Reports suggested it had a slope.

Their first match is believed to have been an away match against Leeds at Kirkstall with the following brief report being published in the Athletic News

There are also some plucky lovers of the Association game in Bradford, and they have formed a club.  Last Saturday they met Leeds Association club, and defeated them by six goals to nil - not a bad start.

The rugby-dominated local press took so little interest in Bradford's new "socker" club that it is impossible to compile even a half-complete a list of fixtures and results.  But it is known that Keighley had actually formed a team two years before Bradford - and the older club did the double over their new neighbours, winning 2-0 at Thornbury and 2-1 back in Keighley.  Petrocochins scored the consolation goal for Bradford.

In late October, Bradford claimed a  2-1 win at Leeds Albion but one of the Bradford goals was reported as "disputed".  The Athletic News commented on the rough play of Bradford's Scotch players.  No other results for season 1888/89 are to hand. And attendances were not helped by frequent clashes with rugby games at Park Avenue and the distance of the ground from the town centre (Bradford having yet to attain city status).

Bradford managed to arrange games with Great Lever from Bolton on Easter Saturday in 1890 and East Riding cup holders Scarborough, but Leeds snootily refused to play Bradford again. The sides last reported away game was a 6-1 defeat at Olive Grove against Sheffield Wednesday Wanderers, which was The Wednesday's reserve team.  The Bradford team was

E. Killick (goal); J. Padgett & H. England (backs); G. Padgett & Wade (half backs); Foxcroft, A.T. Priestman, A. Petrocochins, White, H.Armitage and A. Killick  (forwards).

Armitage scored for Bradford, the crowd being some 700-800.  Two months later the Sheffielders won the return 5-0 with only 300 in attendance.

No further reference to the club has been found.

It is perhaps stretching a point to claim that the Bradford club of 1888 was the forbear of Bradford FC as there seems to be no formal connection between that club and either Buckstone Park or Park Avenue. Colonel Harry Armitage is the main link between the various organisations, having played for the 1888 club before becoming influential at Buckstone Park.  In all probability, Armitage was a key player in the absorption of Buckstone Park into the Park Avenue club.  With Bradford giving up the round ball game between 1899 and 1907, Harry switched allegiances to Valley Parade after Manningham adopted the round ball game in 1903 becoming Bradford City.  Several Bradford players crossed the city.  The name Killick also appears in the line ups of Buckstone Park and both early Bradford clubs with a number of different initials, so we don't know for certain how many players of that clan there were.

(The information on this page is taken from Rob Grillo's book "Late to the Game")

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