The Giant Killers

Every F A cup giant killing since 1888

All time greatest F A cup giant killings

Number 16

 

Chelsea 2-4 Bradford City

Fourth Round: Saturday January 24th 2015

Stamford Bridge, London

Attendance: 41,014

Scorers: Gary Cahill {21}, Ramires {38}, Jon Stead {41}, Filipe Morais {75}, Andy Halliday {82}, Mark Yates {90 +5} 
 
As the political parties geared up for the general election, a row developed over what parties should be included in planned TV debates. It was the end of an era for the Sun newspaper as the topless page three girl feature was ceased after forty-five years. The first episode of the BBC's adaptation of 'Wolf Hall' was hailed a success, Liam Neeson was displaying his special set of skills yet again in Taken 3, Mark Ronson and Bruno Marrs topped the charts with 'Uptown Funk' and the soap world said goodbye to Coronation Street's Anne Kirkbride who passed away.

The Football Association and the Police both must have groaned when the draw for the fourth round of the cup offered the possibility of Chelsea facing Millwall at Stamford Bridge. Thankfully League One Bradford City had other plans and pulled off a minor upset when demolishing the Championship side 4-0 in their third round replay.

What state were Bradford in?

The first decade of the 21st Century was a torrid one at Valley Parade. Relegation from the Premier League in 2001 was followed by two further demotions over six seasons to leave the Bantams in the basement of the Football League. The next six seasons were uneventful until the arrival of new manager, Phil Parkinson in 2011.

 Parkinson enjoyed a modest career as a player with Bury before joining Reading where he was twice voted club player of the year in the 90s. Then, as a manager he showed promise when guiding Colchester to promotion into the second tier in 2006 but then seemed to have made a managerial mistake when leaving them that summer for divisional rivals Hull, where he lasted less than a season.

At Valley Parade his managerial career came back on track in dramatic fashion in the 2012/13 season. A bid for promotion was coupled with a run in the much maligned League cup which captured the public imagination when a full strength Premier League Aston Villa side were beaten over two legs in the semi-final. Incredibly the Bantams were on their way to Wembley for their first major cup final in over a century but alas top flight Swansea were in no mood to be romantic and City went down 0-5. A few months later, Bantams fans made the journey back to Wembley to this time celebrate promotion into the third tier via the play-offs.

Parkinson’s side consolidated their place in League One before launching another promotion bid in 2015, sitting in the play-off places when they made their journey to Stamford Bridge.

Four players from the League cup final team remained and included Andrew Davies who previously played a significant part in Middlesbrough’s run to the 2006 UEFA cup final, although he himself missed the defeat to Sevilla. A spell at Stoke followed before his arrival at Valley Parade. Stephen Darby too had European experience, having come off the subs bench twice in the Champions League for Liverpool. Appearances at Anfield remained few and far between before he was released in 2011. Rory McArdle was a Northern Ireland International, formerly with Aberdeen in the Scottish Premier League and the quartet was completed by James Hanson, the longest serving member of the team who arrived from non-league Football in 2009 and played at Wembley with a pain killing injection.

These four were joined in the promotion season by the Australian, James Meredith, who was enjoying back to back promotions after helping York into the Football League the previous season.

The rest of the team had been brought in over the previous two years to strengthen the side. Mark Yeates and Billy Knott both briefly played in the top flight with Spurs and Sunderland respectively while those with Premier League experience totalled five with Jon Stead. The journeyman forward was known to Chelsea fans from his time scoring goals in the top flight for Blackburn, Sunderland and Sheffield United.

Billy Clarke should have been a sixth but for cruel luck, suffering a season long injury that saw him miss Blackpool’s entire stay in the top flight in 2010 after helping them to promotion. Felipe Morais also thought he was destined for a career at the highest level when signed by Chelsea. He left Stamford Bridge in 2006, claiming that it was impossible for young players to break into the team, arriving at Bradford via the SPL. Goalkeeper, Ben Williams took a similar route to Valley Parade after failing to get beyond the substitute’s bench at Manchester United. Jordan Pickford was the first choice keeper for the Bantams but Williams got the nod in cup ties, as was modern custom among many League clubs.

With Andy Halliday on loan from Middlesbrough and the Swiss, Christopher Routis having come from Second Division Football in his homeland, only Mark Liddle hailed from a traditional career in the lower divisions among the post promotion recruits.

Bradford’s cup run began at Conference, Halifax where they were facing an upset before Jon Stead and Filipe Morais turned the game around in the second half. Round two proved a more comfortable experience when Stead and Morias were on the score sheet again in a routine 4-1 blasting of Conference Dartford. Billy Clarke & Mark Yeates completing the scoring.

That set up their third round clash with Championship Millwall and a fantastic game at The Den. Billy Knott netted twice with an owl goal completing their side of a 3-3 draw in which they twice led and trailed once. The replay was a fiery affair in which Millwall had a player sent off and Bradford manager, Parkinson was sent to the stands. Hanson, Stead, Halliday and Knott scored the goals that pulled off an upset and set up a dream trip to Stamford Bridge, Bradford’s first fourth round tie for fifteen years.

What about Chelsea?

The men from Stamford Bridge were just about one of the biggest teams in Europe and under the special one, Jose Mourinho, they were bidding to try and be the first side in history to win the domestic and European quadruple. Fourteen clubs had visited West London in all competitions during the season with only German side, Schalke 04 escaping without defeat. The Blues were safely through the Champions’ League group and into the knock out phase, they were due to play host to Liverpool in the second leg of their League cup semi-final, having drawn at Anfield and their F A cup run started with a routine 3-0 victory over Championship Watford.

Mourinho’s side were five points clear in the Premier League and had lost just two of their twenty-two games. Striker Diego Costa was the newest hero of the Bridge and seemingly unstoppable.

A bid to win four trophies made the necessity of a strong squad absolutely vital for Chelsea so when Costa was one of nine changes from the team that drew their League cup semi-final first leg five days earlier, there was no suggestion of disrespect to the cup. Nor should there be as the starting eleven included Czech national goalkeeper, Petr Cech, England’s Gary Cahill, Brazil’s Ramires, Nigeria’s Jon Obi Mikkel and Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba, all five of whom had won the Champions League in 2012. If that wasn’t enough they were joined by Spain’s Cesar Azpilicueta, Brazil’s Oscar, Egypt’s Mohamed Salah and France’s Loic Remy making nine full internationals in the starting eleven.

In the event anything might go wrong, the big guns of Fabregas, Courtois, Hazard, Willian and John Terry could be brought from the bench although Jose Mourinho made the point that even with nine changes, to lose to a League One team would be a disgrace. 6,000 City fans made the journey regardless.
 
The Game
 
Perhaps the biggest shock of this giant killing was the manner in which it happened. usually the giant killer gets the lead and holds it or even builds on it to dominate and in some cases humiliate their hapless opponents. On other occasions they turn around a setback to come back and win. At Stamford Bridge this was a routine Chelsea performance where the wheels spectacularly fell off. 
 
Their goals oozed the class of a top Premier League side playing well. Gary Cahill stylishly flicked Oscar's 21st minute corner off the outside of his right foot almost as if it were a training ground practice. The second goal too was something delivered with seeming ease as Ramirez easily robbed McArdle on the half way line before launching a blue wave on William's goal. A quick give and go to Salah undid any resistance from the Bradford defence before Ramirez slotted calmly into the net. 
 
Jon Stead's fine strike from the edge of the penalty area after Chelsea failed to properly clear a Morais free kick did make the game interesting at the interval. Bradford gave it a real go in the second half and with Chelsea seemingly labouring to victory, Jose Mourinho sent in the cavalry of Cesc Fabregas and Willian. How stunned was Stamford Bridge five minutes later when a static Chelsea defence allowed Meredith's throw in to come right into the six yard box where Cech appeared caught by surprise and hastily hacked the ball right into the path of Filipe Morais to equalise right in front of a delirious travelling support. 
 
To come from two down and force a replay would have been a big enough story in itself and Mourinho's response was to play his last card and bring on Eden Hazard to save the tie. Incredibly the story got even better when City then created a goal every bit as good as Chelsea's with eight minutes to go. McArdle did well on the wing, swinging the ball in to Stead who very calmly held it up and then slotted it back for Andy Halliday to run onto. With the class of the millionaires he was playing against, he kept his composure to neatly place his drive past Cech when many could have pictured the headlines and blasted the ball into the stands.
 
There was justifiable anger in the Bradford bench when the fourth official called for an incredible eight minutes of stoppage time in which both Drogbas and Zouma could, and perhaps should have equalised before Bradford put the icing on the cake with the best goal of the game. A patient and well controlled build up took the ball to Yeates who slid the a pass into the box for Stead. As with the third goal he yet again did excellently to hold the ball up and offer it back as Yeats ran on into the box to put the game beyond doubt.  

The highlights come from FATV

 

{image above: Mark Yeates {14} is congratulated by team mates after his injury time winner confirmed Bradford's victory}

Aftermath

It was the manner of the upset as much as the result itself that sent Bradford’s name trending all over the world on the Internet and Saturday afternoon TV Football programmes. Never had a team from outside the top two divisions come from two goals down to beat a top flight side, never mind one of the best sides in the world. More to the point, Chelsea’s second half capitulation was simply inexplicable.

Even the normally relaxed and composed Jose Mourinho seemed lost for words before telling the press that this is what makes Football in England so special. The Portuguese had told the press the previous day that to lose to a lower division side would be a disgrace and he stuck by his words, adding that he felt embarrassed. For a man renowned for rarely, if ever giving victorious opponents any credit Mourinho’s faint hints at congratulation for Bradford were to be taken for high praise indeed.

Opposite number, Phil Parkinson expressed how his team were always at their best when playing positively and that the goal just before the break gave his team the platform to take the game to them with the City fans behind the goal making it feel like a home game. Parkinson was also quick to comment that in private, Jose Mourinho had come into the City dressing room to congratulate all the players and staff.

Co Chairman, Matthew Lawn could barely conceal his delight as he exclaimed the giant killing was the ultimate achievement, like beating Barcelona, before predicting that their defeated opponents would go on to be crowned Champions of Europe.

The game was understandably first on that evening’s Match of the Day where Robbie Fowler was bullish in declaring that this was the biggest giant killing of all time. 77% of viewers who voted on social media agreed, triggering a series of debates on Football forums across England, mainly from fans of other former major giant killers. Social media elements were also quick to criticise the BBC for suggesting that the pre requisite for being a giant killing was that it had to happen in front of their cameras, a suggestion levelled when the Beeb offered a list of biggest giant killings that took care to seemingly omit major shocks covered by ITV’s cameras and not theirs.

To declare this the biggest shock of all time was understandable and only following a similar declaration made many times throughout the history of the competition by the press when major shocks occurred.

Bradford dominated the post fourth round press as the debate raged for a few days as to whether they had pulled off the biggest cup shock of all time. This website even made the news for its ranking of the tie. City had to keep their minds off their upcoming home fifth round tie with Sunderland and keep concentration on their League One promotion bid. A win and two draws left them a couple of points off the play-off pace but with the games in hand necessary to reclaim a place they lost the day they won at Chelsea.

Opponents, Sunderland had won just one of their last eight league games and sat just two points above relegation. Gus Poyet made six changes to his Premier League team as he tried to balance priorities. Bradford couldn’t have got a better start when an early free kick was allowed to fall to Billy Clarke, whose shot took a huge deflection off John O’Shea into the net. Bradford were the better side and although Sunderland gradually got into the game, it was settled in the second half. This time Adam Johnson made a terrible hash of a clearance to gift Jon Stead a goal on a plate. For Stead it continued a great run of scoring in all five rounds as Bradford now sat ninety minutes away from another trip to Wembley.  Their fans had some choice chants for the BBC too, after they had ignored this tie for live coverage and opted for arguably less romantic options on Valentine’s weekend. With two Championship sides also in the last eight it was suggested to keeper, Ben Williams that they might fancy a home tie against one of them to try to get to Wembley. Williams expressed the opinion that it didn't matter who was in the last eight. Any visitor was going to get a very hard ride if Bradford were drawn at home Championship Reading were given the task of a trip to Valley Parade and their own prospect of reaching the semi finals without having faced a top flight club. The goalless draw was another creditable result but also bitterly disappointing for the fans in a ie that neither side did enough to win. Bradford's Wembley dreams were shattered in the replay when Reading opened up a two goal lead in the first ten minutes and ran out comfortable 3-0 winners. 

The Bantams returned to the bread and butter of the closing stages of their promotion bid, which also ended in glorious failure when they finished seventh, missing out on the play-offs by a mere two points. 

Chelsea: 1:Petr Cech, 31:Andreas Christensen, 5:Kurt Zouma, 24:Gary Cahill, 28:Cesar Azpilicueta, 7:Ramires, 8:Oscar, 12:Jon Obi Mikel {Replaced by 4:Cesc Fabregas-70}, 17:Mohamed Salah {Replaced by 22:Willian-70}, 11:Didier Drogba, 18:Loic Remy {Replaced by 10:Eden Hazard-76}. Manager: Jose Mourinho

City: 12: Ben Williams, 2:Stephen Darby, 23:Rory McArdle, 5:Andrew Davies, 3:James Meredith, 11:Billy Knott {Replaced by 14:Mark Yeates-80}, 8:Gary Liddle, 20:Filipe Morais {Replaced by 10:Billy Clarke-89}, 25:Andy Halliday {Replaced by 18:Christopher Routis-87}, 9:James Hanson, 16:Jon Stead. Manager: Phil Parkinson