Bradford’s first game in the Yorkshire League
The absence of league football in season 1896/97 had left Bradford and the other West Yorkshire clubs in a state of limbo. In a bid to restore the association game’s flagging fortunes, the Sheffield and Hallamshire F.A. established the Yorkshire League for 1897/98. This brought the soccer sections of five West Yorkshire rugby league clubs into competition with the reserve sides of the Midland League clubs Barnsley St Peters, Doncaster Rovers and Mexborough and Sheffield’s two Football League giants.
Bradford faced a tough task for their first foray into this new league - a visit to Bramall Lane to face Sheffield United Reserve. The following match report appeared in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph on Monday 20th September 1897.
UNITED RESERVE V. BRADFORD.
At Bramall Lane. United kicked off with the sun at their backs, and at once went forward, a corner coming to them, which was cleared. United were forced to retire to their own half, and Simpson, the new full back, at once made himself conspicuous by his clean kicking. Another corner came to United, but nothing accrued therefrom. Bruster then had a shot at goal, but just missed. Retiring into their own half, United were called upon to defend, a shot from Garner going wide. United's left wing then went down and by some good passing Bruster, United's new centre forward, scored their first goal, after 15 minutes' play. Again Bradford had some anxious moments, a rally around their goal causing some excitement, Bruster again scoring, thus registering United's second goal. A free kick against United, taken by Smith, was punched out by Bradshaw. After some midfield play United pressed, and Bruster, with a good chance to score, kicked yards wide. Play was then of a quiet character, till Crompton, ten minutes from the interval, scored number three for United. Just on half-time Cunningham registered United's fourth goal. Interval :- United Reserve, 4 goals; Bradford, 0 goal.
After the interval, Bradford went down to the home team's goal, but only for a minute of two, as they were soon forced to retire to defend their own citadel, United, in a regular melee in the visitors' goal, scoring their fifth goal five minutes from the resumption of the game. Spirited play was then the order, end to end being visited, a splendid pass by United's right winger enabling Cunningham to notch goal number six for the home club. Still playing mostly in the visitors' half, United were at times very attentive round goal, the Bradford goalkeeper, Johnson, and Smith and Collinson, the backs, having all their work cut out to keep their citadel intact. From a good pass from the right, Cunningham was enabled to register goal number seven for United. Some smart left wing play was then seen on the part of the visitors, McLeary missing his kick when close in. At the other end, from a pass by the right winger, Bruster scored again for the home club goal number eight, and a minute later Bruster again scored. Bradshaw then had to fist out in a hurry, and a corner at the other end to United was successfully cleared. Some long passing was then seen on the part of United, and Cunningham got an offside goal. Immediately afterwards, through the ball glancing off one of the visiting backs through his own goal, the tenth goal came to United, a very one-sided game ending as under:-
UNITED RESERVE - 10 goals
Bradford - 0 goal.
Teams. - United Reserve: Bradshaw, goal; Simpson and Whitham, backs; Smith, Johnson, and Beers, half-backs; Wetton, Cunningham, Crompton, Bruster and Jenkinson, forwards.
Bradford: Johnson, goal; Smith and Collinson, backs; Thorne, Jenkins and Healey, half-backs; Duncan Menzies, David Menzies, McLeary, Helmhurst, and Garner, forwards. Referee, Mr Mountford, Mexborough.