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Ormondroyd predicts cup history

7 January 2013

By Tony Dewhurst

Just sitting with Ian Ormondroyd, talking and drinking tea from a paper cup in the media room which doubles as his office under Bradford City's main stand, does more to rekindle the old deep enthusiasm for football than the sometimes incoherent energy and hype of the Premier League.

Bradford's popular community officer, who has done so much to keep his home town's community links burning bright as the Valley Parade club have tumbled headlong from the Premier League to football's basement in 12 traumatic years, has more reason than most to relish the Bantams' Capital One Cup home semi-final first leg against his old club Aston Villa.

"Bradford City's in my blood, I've spent 20 years of my life working for them as a player and the community boss, so it is going to be a really nostalgic evening because this is the club I supported as a kid and still do," said Ormondroyd, who has been in charge of Bradford's Community Foundation since 1999.

"I was lucky enough to play at Wembley four times - helping Bradford win the 1996 Second Division Play-Off Final against Notts County - so Wembley was the highlight of my career.

"I came on as a substitute and my first touch set up Mark Stallard for Bradford's second goal. That's a day I'll never forget.

"That team had a ferocious inner-belief, a feeling that we couldn't lose. It reminds me of the current Bradford side, that refusal to lie down and surrender.

"These lads have that iron will and belief. It is a Premier League club versus a League 2 team, but why can't Bradford do it again after beating Wigan Athletic and Arsenal.

"It would mean the world to me to see Bradford City back at Wembley."

The Bantams pulled off one of the greatest shocks in League Cup history with a penalty shoot-out win over Premier League Arsenal, a victory that has safeguarded the financial future of a club that have been twice in administration in the past 10 years and only secured their Football League future in their penultimate home fixture of last season.

"It has had a huge impact on the community scheme, too," added Ian. "Suddenly, everybody in the city is interested in Bradford City again and that's great.

"We've had calls out of the blue from clubs and schools wanting to get involved in what we are doing in the community and asking for player visits. The profile of the club has risen massively and that's given everybody a huge lift."

Bradford are the first club from the fourth tier of English football to reach the semi-finals of the League Cup since Wycombe Wanderers were knocked out by Chelsea in 2006/07.

"It feels like Bradford City is coming back to life again, because since relegation from the top flight we've been on the slide.

"It is a long way down to the bottom of the league, but we've got our hands on the first rung of the ladder again."

Now 48, Ormondroyd spent four years with Bradford before former England boss Graham Taylor signed him for Villa for £650,000 in 1989.

"I've a massive affection for Villa, too, " said Ormondroyd.

"I enjoyed my time there. People don't really appreciate what a big club they are.

"But they won the European Cup not long before I joined [1982] and even though we couldn't win the league in 1990, finishing second to Liverpool, we still qualified for Europe and I played at Milan's San Siro Stadium."

Ormondroyd's height and build was to gain him cult status at Bradford and Villa Park, and he insists former England boss Taylor was the finest coach he worked for.

"Graham was a fantastic manager and was probably in his prime then as a coach. Coaching, tactics, man-management, organisation - he had them all, plus an aura of power and authority.

"We had a very good team - Tony Cascarino, Tony Daley and Paul McGrath, by a country mile, was the best player I ever worked with.

"He'd come to Villa from Manchester United. Paul had two dodgy knees, loved a beer, and sometimes he'd just disappear back to Ireland and not train for a week.

"But that didn't seem to matter on the pitch, where he was brilliant. He was quick, read the game like no other defender I'd seen, and was good in the air."

Bradford began their remarkable League Cup journey against Notts County in August and Watford, Burton Albion, Wigan and Arsenal have all tasted defeat since, as City eye Wembley.

"The semi-final will be the biggest occasion in Bradford's history since we managed to stay in the Premier League on the last day of the season in 2000 - that's what it means to Bradford City."

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