My 2021/22 League 2 Predictions

 



The League 2 season has finally begun and I can't wait to get back into Valley Parade to watch Bradford City as us fans have been kept out for far too long, it is going to be great just going back to the ground and watching live football for the team I love. I am actually really looking forward to those cold Tuesday night winter games too which I guess goes to show just how excited I am to be heading back as those were some of my least favourite games just down to how cold it would get at Valley Parade. This season should be an interesting season with the return of fans and a lot of changes especially at teams like Bradford. It is strange as I have only watched Bradford play from the league and whoever they were playing that week as not been able to go threw me off a bit and I didn't follow the league half as much as I should have like in recent years but this season is definitely going to be different as I am going to be back watching and following as much as possible from the league. I think the lack of atmosphere at games really put a downer on the game during the Covid period but I think things are about to get more interesting this time around. 

I think there could be some surprise results happen throughout the season and honestly I think it could be a close call at both ends of the table.  So here is how I think the table is going to look by the end of the season. 

Exeter City 
Swindon Town
Bradford City
Forest Green 
Tranmere Rovers
Harrogate Town
Leyton Orient 
Carlise United
Stevenage
Newport County
Rochdale  
Oldham Athletic
Bristol Rovers
Colchester United 
Walsall 
Crawley Town 
Port Vale
Salford City
Northampton Town
Sutton United 
Hartlepool United 
Barrow 
Scunthorpe United 
Mansfield Town

It was actually really hard to narrow down where I thought each team was going to finish as due to us not being in the grounds for a while and the lack of league 2 shown online I have actually forgot what some of these teams where like last season however, quite a few have made big changes to their squads so I think we are going to be in for a good season all round. This season could go either way and I think fans being back will play a huge part in the teams performances let's just hope they haven't forgot how to play in front of a crowd as it has been a while for them. 

Now get me back in that Kop watching City. 

Match Report : Bradford City Women vs Durham Cestria


Another Sunday and another home game for Bradford City Women, the weather held off until after the game and City were looking to get their first win of their season against Durham Cestria. City's first game of the season was a 2-1 defeat to Chorley so they were hoping to bounce back and get those all important 3 points. It was definitely great to see Charlotte Stuart's name on the team sheet too after her taking an early knock in the first game of the season. 

The game started off at a pretty fast pace as expected and City ended up giving a few fouls out in dangerous places in the first few minutes but Durham couldn't break through the City defence with any of those free kicks.  Durham did however, manage to break through just five minutes into the game to make it 0-1 after a cross close to the goal was deflected into the back of the net passed City 'keeper Richards. Durham were definitely on the front foot for a while after the goal and kept challenging City looking to double their lead. It really looked like they were going to do this in the 15th minute but a great save from Richards kept it at 0-1. 

City did manage to create some chances though and Hawkins made a great run forward, momentarily she did lose the ball but once again she showed no sign of giving up and won the ball back quickly to create a great position for City unfortunately though there was no-one on the receiving end of her pass and Durham gained possession once more. It didn't take long for City to have another chance though as some great build up play put them in a good position to take a chance a shot but unfortunately this went straight to the Durham goalkeeper. 

Just like last week it seemed to be once City hit that 30 minute mark they started to perk up and put in the performance we know they are capable of, once they got settled they were putting some great moves together and pushing forward, fingers crossed as the season progresses we will see City settling into games a lot sooner. There was a bit of a lengthy delay in the build up to half time as a 50/50 challenge saw Stuart once again needing treatment but luckily this week she was good to carry on and got back up to carry on where she left off. In the 39th minute Roberts took a shot from distance which looked like it could have beaten the Durham goalkeeper but unfortunately the ball dipped at the wrong time and the goalkeeper comfortably caught it.  

Throughout the first half we saw Durham really attack City trying to push through and gain that second goal but thanks to strong defending and great goalkeeping City somehow managed to keep Durham out and we went into half time with Durham leading just 0-1 when it could have honestly been more.  

Durham were the ones with the first chance of the second half but luckily for City it found it's way over the crossbar without troubling Richards. It didn't take long for City to find their feet in the second half though and it didn't take long for them to have a chance of their own with Prothero getting herself into a good position but her shot was ultimately blocked by the Durham defence. Bradford definitely got themselves into the second half a lot quicker than they did the first half and they looked a whole lot stronger in the midfield and going forward so it is safe to say whatever was said to the team at half time was taken in and they knew what they needed to do. 


In the 63rd minute Hames made his first substitution with Stube coming on for Prothero, who had covered a lot of ground throughout the time she was on the field so I think this was a good move as it meant a fresh set of legs on the field to try push for an equaliser. Unfortunately for City the 2nd goal of the game also went to Durham. Richards pulled off yet another brilliant save to deny Durham's first attempt but the second attempt managed to find its way into the back of the net for Durham to double their lead in the 71st minute. Almost immediately after the 2nd goal Hames made his 2nd substitution bringing Russell on in place of Roberts who once again had a really good game and covered a whole lot of ground whilst on the pitch. City did try to pull a goal back not long after conceding with Lambert moving well to keep hold of the ball and getting it through to Hawkins which was once again saved by the Durham goalkeeper. In the 83rd minute Hames made his final two substitutions of the game bringing Knapton on for her debut and Douglas whilst taking off Stuart and Hawkins. In the 85th minute City finally got themselves on the scoreboard with a great goal but again City left it late to score just like they did in their first game of the season, but for the final minutes of the game they were constantly pushing for an equaliser which was great to see. 

The game ended 1-2 just like it did against Chorley in their first game but you can definitely see improvements being made throughout the City team as they are putting up a fight each game and trying to find a way back into the game rather than just looking like they want to give up. Durham took their chances well and looked like they are going to do well this season and City might have been defeated but again they are showing some strong signs on the pitch and off field it is improving once more as we are seeing more and more people attending the games, it is nice to see the stand looking full. 

There were a few silly fouls given away from both teams really but the game was definitely more physical than it was against Chorley and City looked to be holding their own really well which is great to see, they never looked like giving up on a challenge. There were definitely a few City players that stood out throughout the game. Woodcock once again seemed to be allover winning the ball back with some great challenges and was carrying the ball forward really well. Stuart had a great game too and was covering the midfield really well and winning the ball plenty of times both on the floor and in the air which definitely helped City out a fair bit as the ball seemed to spend a fair bit of time in the air. Hawkins had an absolutely brilliant game too as she was all over the field and pressing Durham really well and never looked like she was going to give up even when the ball seemed out of reach she still tried to make it. Richards was also a standout player with some of her saves looking brilliant and she really did keep City in the game especially in the first half and quite a few times in the 2nd half. 

So here is who would have been our player of the match 

Lucy - For me it has to be Richards as without some of her saves we could have easily conceded a whole lot more. 

Liam - For me it is once again Woodcock as she made some solid challenges and got City into some good positions to push forward. 

The game this week was really enjoyable and I am really looking forward to seeing City when they are back home again as I think that win is due very soon, unfortunately there will be no report for their next home game as we aren't here that week but bring on the next home game after that. 

My 2021/22 Premier League Predictions


 

This weekend the Premier League final kicks off and it is bound to be another interesting season where I think we could see some shock results especially in the early part of the season. We have big names out injured from the Euro's and new players coming into squads that could change the whole way the team performs. It is safe to say that the build up to this season has been quite a good one with players showing their worth and big money transfers taking place, who thought we would have seen Grealish leave Villa this transfer window? And who would have thought Manchester United would sign Varane. I think these transfers could really shape up how the season goes. We have also seen the likes of Liverpool suffering with injuries once again so it that going to cause them a bad run of form in the lead up to Christmas, I guess only time will tell.

Maybe due to the new signings of teams especially the big teams we are going to have a close race for the top spot this team rather than one team running away with the league which we have been seeing far too often lately. It is about time we had a close season with multiple contenders rather than just one team being more than 10 points ahead. I think it could also be quite close down at the bottom end of the table too as some of those lower teams have lost key plays although some of the newly promoted teams have strengthened their team really well to put up a fight in the top flight. As for the middle of the table I think we will just see the usual suspects battling it out for the best position they can possibly get but one team I will be keeping my eye on is Villa, are they going to be fine without Grealish or will they struggle? 

So here is how I think the table will look at the end of the season...

Manchester City 
Chelsea
Manchester United 
Liverpool
Arsenal 
Leicester City
Wolves
Tottenham 
Everton
West Ham 
Brighton & Hove Albion
Aston Villa
Leeds United 
Newcastle United
Burnley
Norwich 
Crystal Palace
Watford
Southampton
Brentford 

Looking at the Man City team you just think they will win the league but I think with Chelsea and Man Utd's transfers we could be looking at a close contest if they team gels together and they play as you would expect them to. I am really looking forward seeing how this season plays out and I am hoping with it being the first season with fans back it is going to be entertaining for us all. I know I am going to be watching as much Premier League as possible this season and will be keeping a close eye on the league and who is doing well. I do think the fight for the Champions League spots are going to be great and is going to be something for us all to keep an eye on.

Let's hope we see the newly signed players making an impact for their teams and give us a competitive season. 

In Conversation With Katy Woodcock



Following the return of the 'In Conversation' series we got the chance to ask Bradford City Women's captain Katy Woodcock a few questions about the season ahead and the effect the pandemic has had on the team. Katy is a player who has stood out to us at Edge of the Area whilst we have been going to the Bradford games as she notably gives everything on that pitch and is a solid central defender who isn't afraid to get stuck into a tackle. You can see just by looking on her Twitter just how invested into the club she is as her feed is filled with the club. So here is how our chat with Katy went... 

EOTA:  Whilst we haven’t seen much on the pitch due to Covid we have seen plenty of movement off the pitch with Ian & Keith joining the club and us becoming part of community foundation how do you think that’s going to benefit us?

Katy : I think it clearly shows the club is moving in a positive direction and the overall vision of the club is very evident now. Ian and Keith bring a wealth of knowledge from the commercial front and joining the community foundation shows the intent of BCAFC - we have a clear pathway for the junior girls to the seniors, it’s a great place to be in and a very positive one for the city of the Bradford. 

EOTA: We have seen Brighouse promoted out of the league and 2 new additions being added in Alnwick and FC Manchester is it nice to see new teams added to the league after no relegation or promotion during the previous cancelled season?

Katy : Yeah, it’s always great to see new competition arriving in the league. These teams clearly deserve to be in the league so it’ll be interesting to see how they get on. 

EOTA: As a player how have you been staying match fit during the lockdowns as it must have been hard not knowing if the season was going to happen again?

Katy: It’s extremely difficult to remain match fit because you only have that match fitness by playing consistently, week in week out. But during lockdowns, I just tried to remain as active as possible whether that be running - I completed a challenge during the second lockdown to raise money for charity. So this meant running 5K everyday for 22 days in a row. I was running a few times every week anyway so it just made sense to set a personal challenge/goal but also raise money for charity at the same time! A few other things I did were along the lines of; work outs in my back garden, zoom fitness sessions with the clubs fitness coach… and trying my best to keep a balanced diet in tact! 

EOTA:  How important do you believe social media is in raising awareness of the women’s game & helping promote teams in lower leagues like yourself 

Katy: It’s massive. It really is. I think it’s great that there are so many more aspiring journalist’s etc., that are taking a real interest in the women’s game, across all tiers/levels. Particularly for lower league teams, it really gives clubs the exposure that they deserve. 

EOTA:  We are seeing the club come closer to the men's team and after the merge with the foundation we are seeing a lot more promotion across social media, do you think that promotion is going to bring in more fans to games? 

Katy: I hope it does. We have great supporters who follow the club but It would be amazing to see more fans at our games and social media is a great way to advertise and showcase the women’s club. 

EOTA: What would you say to any young girls who have been inspired by the recent Euros and want to get into football but are unsure of taking the first step?

Katy: Don’t be afraid to take the next step. Nerves are always going to be a huge part of any footballers career so I’d encourage these young people to not let the nerves stop them from giving it a go. I would probably tell them about my first ever training session when I was 8 years old and turned up in 3/4 jeans, dolly shoes and didn’t have a clue what a defender was!!
Everyone has to start somewhere and you never know if you never try! 

EOTA: To anyone on the fence about coming and spending their Sunday afternoon watching you what would you say to get them into the stadium? 

Katy: I would firstly say if there are any supporters with daughters it’s a great place to come down and you never know it might make your daughter want to become the next BCAFC player. If they’re unsure,  come down to one of the derby games - just like any derby day at any level of football, the battles, aggression and passion is very real! I’m sure that will change their minds! 

EOTA: What is the team feeling like during going into the season with the fact it has been a shorter off season? Are the players fully fit, ready and raring to go? 

Katy: The girls are just so buzzing to back at training. Although the coaches have definitely stepped fitness up a few gears, everyone is working really hard. We know our fitness needs to be at the highest level this season to be where we want to be and it’s just amazing to have a group where every single player recognises that and is determined to be at their very best, going into the season

EOTA: With seasons been stop and start has it been hard recently to gel as a team or have you still been able to do team bonding activities to an extent?

Katy: Obviously we haven’t seen each other as much as we would have liked to during the lockdowns but social media and the group chat banter have really kept that team bond in place. We’ve had a couple of days / evening where restrictions have allowed us to go for a meal / someone’s garden / watch the euros together which was amazing! 

So there you have it that was our chat with Bradford City Women's captain Katy Woodcock. I am really looking forward to seeing Katy play again this season as she is certainly a player that gives it her all on the field and is a great asset to the team. I can really see Katy being a key player throughout the season helping the club get the results and exposure it certainly deserves. 

If you are liking these 'In Conversation' posts then keep checking back as there are plenty more to come. 

My Favourite Premier League Home Shirts 2021/22

I honestly think one of my favourite things about football these days is becoming the shirts that the teams are wearing each game. That is why I love the build up to a new season, seeing what shirts are released is great and seeing everyone else's reactions are fantastic but as my interest has grown in the shirt community I have noticed my reactions are changing. I have started looking at the little details on shirt these days and the templates used by each manufacturer, some are far to similar for each club whilst others stand out from the crowd. I think going into the 2021/22 season I am loving so many more shirts that have been released and there are some that have definitely captured my eye more than others but honestly this season I would say we have seen some clubs get some fantastic shirt options that are going to look great on the field.

It is safe to say narrowing my favourite home shirts from the premier league down was actually quite difficult as there are some great choices but I have somehow managed to narrow it down to my favourite five shirts which are...  




Manchester United

Of course Manchester United are on here, after all I did do a full post focusing just on this shirt which you can read here. I really like this shirt which actually surprised me as I didn't think I would due to the new sponsor but now I have seen it I really do think it works well. The classic and retro style of shirt being very minimal also looks great and it makes a nice for it to be plain for a change. Sometimes simplicity works the best and in the case of this shirt that is definitely the case.  


Leicester City

For a few seasons now I have liked Leicester's kits and this year is no exception. I really like what Adidas have done with this seasons shirt for Leicester as that little design on the shirt just makes it a little different from last years and actually works really well with the blue colour. I do think some Adidas shirts this year look similar but for me Leicester is a stand out one. I just wish the sponsor was a bit smaller on this one but to be honest at least the colour works well against the blue. 

Watford

I will be completely honest here and admit I have never actually heard of Kelme in the past. However, I really like what they have done with this seasons kit as the bold yellow with black stripes going across is certainly fitting of the hornets nickname they carry. I actually really like the design of this shirt and it definitely stands out from the crowd, again though I just wish that sponsor was a little bit smaller as it does take over a lot of the front of the shirt which is the only thing that I aren't too keen on for the whole shirt. 


West Ham

To be honest for me West Ham shirts are usually hit or miss and I can definitely take or leave them. This year though I absolutely love it, I aren't sure if it is because I am a sucker for a collar or if it is because it is a simple and classic looking design. I love how their is one main colour for the base of the shirt and then the only other colours are on the tops of the sleeves. This is definitely a very smart take on a football shirt and just goes to show Umbro still make great kits.  


Chelsea 

Finally on my list of favourite shirts we have Chelsea which my dad will definitely be proud of being included as he is a Chelsea fan. I don't really know what it is about this shirt but I absolutely love it. The crazy design looks fantastic and is definitely going to stand out on the pitch. I love how the shirt is mainly shades of blue with the yellow Nike logo and side panels as it doesn't take away from the design but adds a little more colour to it. I even quite like how the design goes from zigzags to checks as it just makes it so different. I think it could make your eyes go funny after a while though.

So there you have it those are the five home shirts that have made it as my favourites for the Premier League this season, it is safe to say we are being treated to some great shirts and over the coming weeks I will be posting my favourite away and third shirts for the Premier League along with some from other leagues around the world too. In fact you can definitely expect a lot more Shirt content over the coming months. 

My Overall Thoughts On The Women's Football At The Olympics

 


That is the Olympics over and done with and with us waiting an extra year to see some of our favourite sports stars in action I definitely don't think it disappointed us. My main interest of course was the football but more importantly the women's football as with how the game has grown over recent years it was bound to be a good one. 

Right from the get go the women's football was interesting with World Cup winners the USA losing to Sweden in their opening game ending their unbeaten run going into the competition. In fact the whole tournament was a shock with the USA as they really didn't look their best and looked like they could be broken down easily. They did leave with a bronze medal but I do think that if they performed as they had in the run up to the competition they could have been in that final chasing gold. They just looked fatigued and disjointed and not like the USA we are used to seeing who look like they could walk any game and take away a victory. It was nice to see other teams in the final other than them but it would have been nice to see Christen Press & Tobin Heath pick up a gold medal. 

Whilst USA weren't having a great competition Australia had a brilliant competition and were very unlucky to walk away without a medal. The team had some great comebacks and looked really well put together. Going into the start of the competition I didn't expect that Australia would make it into the final 4 but they really surprised me. The thing with Australia is that they are a pretty young team still so who knows what we are going to see from them in future competitions, with the quality of players they have I think we could be seeing them in a lot of later stages of tournaments. 

It was really nice to see Christine Sinclair picking up a gold medal with Canada as she is one of the greatest women's players ever in my eyes. Canada winning a medal whilst beating the USA on the way to victory is fantastic and is not something you see very often. I didn't expect to see Canada in the final at all especially against Sweden but to see a lot of those veteran players finally winning a competition is great. Sinclair is in her late 30's now so you wonder just how long she is going to be playing for so to see her possibly play her final Olympics and take away the gold is absolutely fantastic. 

Mot nations fielded their usual teams that play multiple times together a year & play together in all the competitions together however, Team GB made some adjustments and added in a few other players of different nationalities as it was all of Great Britain being represented rather than just England. I was a bit worried about how those few extra players of different nationalities would effect the team as they aren't used to playing together and didn't have much time together going into the games but those extra players didn't seem to matter. the team looked good and strong at times however, a few players did manage to get past them a bit too easily. I hope we get to see Team GB in the French Olympics the next time around as it made a nice change to just watching England. To say they didn't play much together they had a great group stage and did well in the quarter finals too and fell short to a great Australian comeback. Ellen White once again had a great tournament and let's hope that we see her popping goals in for the fun of it for Manchester City this season too as she is in great form.

I am surprised that the Netherlands didn't make it further than the quarter finals as I really thought they would defeat the USA and progress due to how the USA had being playing, the Netherlands are a team that are definitely on the rise at the moment but the draw just proved that bit too strong for them. I think we are going to see them in the latter stages of plenty of other tournaments in the future though. The whole tournament was a great showcase for women's football though and we saw it to be a lot more competitive rather than seeing the same old teams doing well which should show those just taking interest in the game it is changing and it isn't just a one horse race anymore. Countries are putting more into the game 

One issue I did have though is actually getting to watch full games live rather than catching up on highlights etc. Here in the UK we could watch a few of Team GB's games on the BBC but if something more important was happening they weren't showing the football games. So to watch it you had to sign up to Eurosport to be able to watch live and I refused to sign up for yet another service just to watch a few games. I already spend enough on subscriptions to be able to watch what I like and yes you get a free trial but if I forgot to cancel it was £9.99 a month which I don't want to pay. There should have been a bit more option on how to watch free of charge as they will have been cutting off a section of the women's fan base and not advertising it to a new potential audience. I don't think the football in the Olympics was publisised very well either as the competition started before the opening ceremony and I doubt a lot of people who aren't fans of the game would have even known it was on unless they randomly came across it on the TV. It makes you wonder if they could have advertised and showed the football a bit more to a wider audience and we could have even seen a growth in the women's football fan base I believe due to the performances we were seeing on the pitch. 

I think over the coming years we could see some fantastic tournaments with underdogs causing upsets and teams really coming into their own. I don't think the game is going to be filled with the same old teams doing well each time I think we are going to see a lot of teams on the rise and progressing to the later stages of tournaments. The women's game is on the rise and so are a lot of the countries involved in competing. The future of women's football is certainly looking bright. 

Match Report : Bradford City Women vs Chorley

 
Well it is safe to say that it has been a while since we did a match report and it is something we have definitely missed doing. The long awaited return of the FAWNL has finally happened and Bradford City women kick started their campaign at home to Chorley. Bradford have looked good in pre-season pulling off some great victories but could they carry on their winning ways coming into the new season? Hames has added new faces to the squad in the build up to kick off and there has been multiple changes at the top off the field too so hopefully the results would start to go Bradford's way. Unfortunately though their first game ended in a 1-2 defeat to Chorley but there are plenty of takeaways from today's game with improvements definitely seen when you look back at previous seasons. 

The first 10 minutes or so Bradford had a fair bit of possession and Chorley mainly only got the ball from free kicks however City just couldn't break through the Chorley defence and threaten their goalkeeper. The game was then hit with a lengthy stoppage as City's Stuart was down injured which forced Hames to make an early substitution where he brought Douglas on after just 12 minutes. Fingers crossed it isn't a bad injury to Stuart as she is a key player for City but she did seem to be in a lot of discomfort. 

Chorley did end up taking the lead after 21 minutes with Mills scoring a pretty good goal against the run of play really as up until then City seemed to have the ball a whole lot more. The goal definitely sparked Chorley up though and once the game restarted it was all about them and they looked a huge threat. It only took them another 7 minutes to double their lead with Matthews scoring in the 28th minute with a calm lob over the head of City's 'keeper Richards who had no chance of stopping it as she was quite a way off her line. Once Chorley got those goals they really got more into the game and looked lethal going ahead and City seemed to be a little shaken and struggled to get back into it before half time.

City went into half time trailing 0-2 however, I don't know what was said in the dressing room as they came back out fighting. Hames made a second substitution at half time bringing Jakeman off and putting Beck on and City started the second half with an early free kick and an early opportunity which unfortunately didn't really trouble the Chorley 'keeper. Beck definitely made an impact on the game when she came on, she made some great passes and some even better breaks to create some opportunities which again didn't really come to anything but it showed Chorley we could get through their defence if we wanted to. Hames then made another substitution bringing Prothero off and putting on Russell in her place again this is a sub that worked well in City's favour with Russell making some good passes and some good runs to help City really challenge to get some goals back. Beck did manage to get a goal back for City in the 80th minute with a really good finish to get City back in the game. Straight after the goal Hames made his final change bring Lambert off who was struggling with a bit of cramp and bringing Thomas on. 

Once Beck's goal went in City's spirits seemed to be lifted and for the final 10 minutes they livened up and though as hard as possible to find that equaliser however, they just couldn't hit the net for a second time and unfortunately their first game of the season ended in a defeat. They should be proud of their performance though as it was definitely an improvement on previous years and they fought hard to get themselves back into the game rather than just giving up when nothing really seemed to go their way. I really do believe the referee had a big impact on the game and especially the flow of it as it constantly seemed stop start for the most ridiculous free kicks. For the full game there was definitely some questionable decisions like a back pass that wasn't called and few offside's that definitely didn't look offside yet for obvious ones the flag stayed down. Those decisions definitely got tempers flaring and cost a few players to understandably frustrated, even the anger was rising was on the benches and we saw City coaching staff member Qasim have a talking to from the referee with him ultimately receiving a yellow card, it is safe to say a lot more yellows could have been given out in the 90 minutes with each team having players on yellow cards we could have easily seen a couple of reds too if the referee really wanted to. 

There was definitely a few City players who had a standout game in my eyes, 'keeper Richards pulled off some great saves to keep Chorley on just the two goals but they could have definitely walked away from the game with more if Richards didn't have the game she did. Woodcock and Roberts both had great games in defence too although at times they were hard done by they still carried on putting a solid performance to stop Chorley scoring more than they did. Both these players were certainly getting frustrated but they didn't let that stop them and not only did they defend really well but they helped create some good attacks too. The substitutions Hames made certainly made an impact too which is just what is needed in this league, when the opposition is getting tired we want the option of players who are going to test them with their fresh legs and it looks like this season we are going to be seeing a fair bit of this. It does make me wonder how we would have got on if Stuart was able to play the full 90 minutes though as she started the game really well before her injury. 

City certainly looked a lot better than in previous years and I don't think it is going to be long until we see all the hard work paying off on the field and those results start heading in the right direction. We just look like we need to tighten our defending that little bit more, making sure we are closing players down a bit quicker and tidy up some of our passes in the midfield to get us in some dangerous positions going forward. 

So here is who we would have voted as our player of the match...

Lucy - For me it was definitely a tough choice between Roberts and Woodcock as they both had a really strong but I think Woodcock gets the honour this week as she showed us just why she is captain she never gave up.

Liam - For me just like Lucy I would have to say Woodcock, because she never gave up and had a really good game.

It is nice to be back at the game watching live football once again and I think we are going to be in for an interesting season. It was also nice to see a lot more fans at the game compared to previous years, the changes off the field are definitely going to help bring the results on the field. 

Up next Bradford take on Durham Cestria on Sunday 22nd August, are we going to see Bradford win all 3 points? 

Bradford City 2021/22 Third Shirt

Well it is here we have finally seen the Bradford City 3rd kit and it certainly hasn't disappointed me. I had heard rumours that the shirt was going to be blue but I didn't expect it to look as good as it does. I have loved the previous blue shirts we have had especially the Avec ones so I knew we were going to get something that looked good but does it live up to my expectations? 


Looking at the shirt it looks like it is the same template as the home goalkeeper shirt just in a different colour. The blue looks absolutely brilliant though and the mix between the shades of blue in the chevrons looks absolutely fantastic. Again I really like how the shirt is simply just a few shades of blue and the white. The sponsor stands out well once again and I think City sponsors are the only ones I really don't mind. The darker blue around the neckline is also a nice touch as it is subtle but you can see the little addition nicely. For me it just looks like a nice clean shirt that is going to look really nice being worn.  


The back of the shirt carries on with the chevron pattern up to the shoulder line too just like with the goalkeeper shirt. I just like how the pattern flows throughout the whole shirt and gives the nice clean look all round. The only details other than the chevrons on the back are the Mitton Group sponsor and the black ribbon which as always is nice to see. I think the players names and numbers are going to look great on this shirt too and should stand out nicely which is going to be useful for us fans. 


I like how the sleeves are a plain blue apart from the Avec taping running down the centre in the darker blue and white which just fits with the rest of the shirt nicely. There is also the darker blue mesh paneling down the side of the shirt which again doesn't look out of place. 

I will definitely be purchasing this shirt as I absolutely love the colour and the chevron detail. I think it is safe to say I am going to be wearing this during the next season, I hope we get to see the players in this shirt too as it is a good one. If like me you want to purchase the shirt for yourself it will cost you... 

Shirt - £37.50 - £49.95
Shorts - £18.00 to £22.00
Socks - £8.50 to £11.00
Infant kit - £27.95 



Even though it is the third shirt we still have the claret and amber incorporated into the kit thanks to the goalkeeper shirt and it looks brilliant. This is the same sort template as the outfield players shirt however, this time it is in this vibrant amber colour with the sponsor in the claret which looks brilliant and is a nice change. The chevrons are nice and subtle on here and again the flow perfectly through the shirt. I really like the claret around the neckline too as it fits the rest of the shirt nicely but doesn't stand out too much. 


The back also has the chevrons going up to the shoulder line with it also cutting off at the shoulder line just like with the outfield players. Again the only other detail on the back is the Mitton Group sponsor and the ribbon. I actually really like the sponsor in the claret colour in fact and it looks perfect against the amber shirt. I really hope the name and number fits in with this shirt too and doesn't ruin it like it has done in the past for me. 


The sleeves are a plain claret with no chevrons running down them but they do have the Avec taping which looks great in the claret and amber, granted I thought they would have a bit of white on the but they have stayed away from this so that the shirt is simply just claret and amber fitting with the clubs historical colours. There is also a claret mesh panel down the side which doesn't take up too much space and is a subtle addition to break down the otherwise all amber shirt. It is nice to know there is always going to be some form of claret and amber on the pitch if the shirts are worn in the correct combinations.

Just like with the goalkeeper home shirt I am actually really tempted to pick this shirt up for myself which is a change as like I said in the home shirt post I don't usually bother with them but Avec have definitely won me over with this seasons goalkeeper options. If like me you want purchase the shirt for yourself it will cost you...

Shirt - £37.50 - £49.95
Shorts - £18.00 to £22.00
Socks - £8.50 to £11.00

It is safe to say I am going to be getting at least 5 of the 6 shirts we have released for this season and I already have one in my collection already. Avec have definitely done a fantastic job this season and I am looking forward to seeing the players out on the pitch in them all. I honestly can't pick a favourite though so for now lets just say all 6 are my favourites. Which is you favourite Bradford City shirt this season? 

In Conversation With Chris Hames

 


It has been a while since I have done one of these In Conversation posts and what better way to bring them back than with Bradford City Women's very own Chris Hames. Since Chris took charge of the women's team we have definitely seen an improvement both on and off the pitch however, the pandemic ultimately put a hold on that progress but as we enter the new season which we are hoping to complete this time around we are also going in as being part of the Bradford City Community Foundation and Bingley Bantams Ian & Keith Taylor taking charge of the club on a day to day basis. This move is bound to help bring in supporters and bring the women's club more inline with the men's and junior teams which has been needed for a long time really so the women's team were part of he club more than just having the same name and kits. So here is how our chat with Chris about the upcoming season, changes and pandemic delays went... 

EOTA : Whilst we haven’t seen much on the pitch due to covid we have seen plenty of movement off the pitch with Ian & Keith Taylor joining the club and us becoming part of community foundation how do you think that’s going to benefit us?

Chris : Them joining the club has been a breath of fresh air. It means a lot to us that we are part of the institution that is Bradford City - and the support they have given has been superb so far. Qas has taken over as our GM, which will only drive this club on with what he gives for the club and his ambition, as well as allowing us to rejoin and get closer to the Junior teams again - and we can all see the quality of player coming through at all ages there.

EOTA :  With the last two seasons being cancelled we haven’t seen your full potential as manager yet but results started to change for the better. Are you confident we can keep this up?

Chris : This has never been about me. The group hasn't changed dramatically since the one that was struggling when I took over, all they needed was some confidence, some direction and then we have had a few excellent people join the group too. We've reached a point where there is a buzz about the place, where being good people is the first and last condition to being a part of the club, and that has to power to take us very far.

EOTA : With two new additions to the league are you looking forward to finding out what those teams are all about after there being no movement between leagues due to the cancelled seasons?

Chris : Yes it'll be nice to have some new teams to play, and some new challenges - though there are still a number of teams in this division I haven't faced over the last two years, with all the lockdowns and postponements, so the whole season should feel like a new challenge as it is. There will be challenges to these additions. FC United have come up having had years of dominating the league above, and I am very familiar with their manager and players, from some of my previous roles. Alnwick proves a different challenge, one we don't know much about yet, but I'm sure they will come flying into this league - though we may need to charter a flight to just get us up there for a 2pm KO!

EOTA :  What are your main aims for this season? Is it all about promotion or is it mainly finding your rhythm again after all the stop start of the past few seasons? 

Chris : I am always under the belief that we must all 'aim for the moon...' so lets see

EOTA :  Covid has been a big player since March 2020 and with the fact it isn’t going away do you think we are going to suffer from further disruption.

Chris : Yes, unfortunately. It is going to be a tough job for the league to make sure that no one is unfairly punished for Covid reasons, but also to ensure that teams don't use it to their advantage, like we saw one or two try to do last term. I think we just have to be flexible, and adapt to the environment at each time, though I do hope this season can be completed.

EOTA :  We are seeing the club come closer to the men's team and after the merge with the foundation we are seeing a lot more promotion across social media, do you think that promotion is going to bring in more fans to games?

Chris : Bradford City is a huge club. As an outsider I probably didn't realise how big a club it was until I came; but the support is special, in spite of there not always being a lot to cheer about over the last few years. I want the people of Bradford, the fans of City to embrace us as a part of their club, as a part of the family and come out in numbers. I would love for 1% of the men's match going crowd to come and follow us week in week out too.

EOTA : Have you found it easier or harder to recruit new players / keep hold of players with all that has gone on or do you think the addition of the foundation has helped bring in new faces? 

Chris : The girls have been fantastic. Their development over the last 12 months, in spite of everything, has been great to be a part of, and we have a group that are determined to see this out together. 

EOTA : For those who might be inspired by the Euros and want to take a step into management do you have any advice?

Chris : Just do it. Go help out at a grassroots club. Under 9's, Under 16's, Reserves, First team. It doesn't matter, just get involved.

So there we have it that was our in conversation with Chris Hames, I am hoping to get more pieces from Chris and the team throughout the season to run alongside these little interviews so keep your eyes on the blog for them as I already have a few more to post very soon but I thought we best start with Chris to see what he thinks about the season ahead. Throughout this morning there will be a lot more Bradford City content but if you want to see interviews with anyone specific please do let me know as they are really fun to do and give us all a bit more of an insight into the teams.  Fingers crossed Chris can get the team playing as they should be this season and Covid doesn't cause any more disruption. 

Olympic Women's Football Final Predictions

 


Well here we go the final of the women's football at the Olympics and I think we are going to be in for a treat as Canada face off against Sweden. Both these teams are looking very strong in this competition and are pushing their opponents to their limits so anything could happen during this game. I can honestly say I didn't expect either of these teams to get this far and they have caused some upsets to get this stage.

Canada

Canada has beat the USA to get this far and if it had been a few years earlier I don't think this would have happened but they have really grown this year and are showing they shouldn't be under estimated anymore. There inclusion in the final has certainly surprised me though as I thought they would have struggled to get out of the groups but they have shown their true strength and made it this far so no matter what the result in the final they should be proud of how well they have done especially with that win over the USA. I really think they could put up a strong challenge against Sweden and push them as far as possible but I just aren't sure if they can take home the gold but I really hope they do surprise me. 

Sweden

Sweden started off the tournament really strongly against the USA by defeating them 3-0 and since then they have looked very strong and it is nice to see them in the final of the competition. Sweden have been a team that have been on the rise for the past couple of years so to see them going for gold is fantastic as it just shows that all their hard work is paying off. Sweden have gone from underdogs in my eyes to being one of the best teams in the world causing some big upsets. I don't think this is the last final we will be seeing Sweden in over the coming years. 

This game has the potential to be a very good one and we are going to have the chance to see two teams in great form go to head to head. This is anyone's game to take and the battle for gold is going to be a tough one for both teams. Both Canada and Sweden are showing us they are teams to watch over the coming years as they are really starting to prove to the world their potential. I am really looking forward to seeing how this game plays out and who takes home gold and who takes home the silver. What ever happens though both these teams should be proud of how far they have come. 

Olympic Men's Football Bronze Medal Match Predictions


The penultimate match in the men's Olympic football competition is upon upon us and it sees the host nation Japan take on Mexico. This game is bound to be a good one with the home nation being involved and I just wish fans could attend the game as I think this would end up being a sell out with a fantastic atmosphere due to Japan competing for the medal. Both the teams have definitely surprised me throughout this competition and they have really shown that they have the potential to go far in future competitions too.

Japan have looked brilliant and you can really tell that a lot of time has been spent getting the team up to scratch and the rise of the Japanese league also seems to have helped in my opinion. The players are looking great and like they are going to be able to challenge even the big teams in the future. I think if their semi final was against Mexico or Brazil we would have seen them in the final but facing Spain was just a step too far for them this time around. I don't think this will be the last time we see Japan progressing well in a major tournament and I am really looking forward to seeing what the future holds for this team. 

I will be honest I didn't anticipate to see Mexico going this far in the competition just due to the other teams competing but they have really surprised me. For me Mexico have always been one of those hit and miss teams but this time around they have shown us all what they are made of and have shown they shouldn't they shouldn't be underestimated. It is nice to see Mexico heading to the later stages of the competition instead of the usual suspects and with the team only being young I don't think this is going to be the last we see of them in the back ends of competitions they compete in. Mexico are definitely up against a tough opponent with Japan looking strong and being on home soil but if they play like they have done recently they might just edge Japan out of a medal however, will the fact Mexico had to play extra time and penalties come back to cause them issues? I guess we will soon find out. 

I am really looking forward to seeing who takes home the bronze medal from this game and I can see it possibly ending up going into extra time due to the strength and determination both team have. Japan will want to win on home soil and the Mexico team won't want to leave empty handed and let's hope the result shows just how closely contested this match can potentially be. I think I might be looking forward to this game more than the final. 

Olympic Women's Football Bronze Match Predictions

 


Well here we are the penultimate game in the Women's football tournament at the Olympics and I think it has the potential to be a fantastic game if both teams play for the final medal available and perform better than they did in their group stage encounter which wasn't half as good s it could have been.

The two teams competing for the bronze medal this time around are Australia and the USA so it is a game between two teams with a whole lot of potential and two teams who I honestly thought would have either gone on to win gold or dropped out at the groups. 

I really didn't expect to see Australia at this stage of the competition however, they have shown us all just what they are capable of this time around and with the age of most of their players I think other nations should be worried about facing them in the future. They have some big names in the team who are proving their worth at an international level not just club level these days and they are showing just how well they can actually play together. I really did think they would have dropped out in the quarter finals but they had a really good strong game against Team GB and went on to put up a great fight against Sweden in the semi finals too. I just wonder how well they are going to do in the bronze medal match though as they have Ellie Carpenter sitting out this game due to receiving a late red card in the semi finals and Carpenter is a player who has shown a lot of improvement over recent years and has the potential to be one of the greatest players in the world so it does make you wonder if they are going to suffer from losing her for the match or not. 

The USA have really surprised me this tournament as it really does feel like they are falling apart in front of our eyes. I really thought they would beat Canada but maybe that early injury played a big part in them losing out on a place in the final but right from the start there is something that just hasn't felt right with them. I don't know if it is due to it being their first major tournament under new management, something going on in the camp or has the amount of send off games simply caught up with the players and they have gone into the tournament with lower fitness levels than previous? The factors could all play a part in their performances but when you look at the quality on the team sheet you expect them to go in and win games but clearly it just isn't happening for them at the moment and something needs to change. I think them not having Naeher for the bronze medal match might play to Australia's advantage but those outfield players really need to step up too and perform how we expect them to. Who knows this match might send them back to their winning ways but only time will tell. 

We could definitely be in for a very good game for the bronze medal match and with a key player missing from either side it is going to be interesting to see how the teams perform without them and I think the way that Australia are playing at the moment they could end up causing an upset and taking home the final medal however, maybe the USA have seen the recent loses and fight back and go back to the team we are all used to watching play but this game could go either way and I am looking forward to seeing how it plays out. 

Men's Olympic Football Semi Final Round Up

 


It was another exciting day of football yesterday at the Olympics but this time it was the men's time to shine and again we had two great match ups on offer which were always bound to be close games. We have seen in the men's game some teams in the semi finals that we might not have previously expected and it is honestly great seeing new talent on offer instead of seeing all the usual big names competing. The four teams who made it to the semi finals have showed some great progress over the years and this tournament has really allowed them to shine. So here is how the semi finals went... 

Mexico vs Brazil
I thought this was going to be a close game and I wasn't disappointed as in the end it was penalties that were needed to settle the tie. Brazil came out of the game the eventual winners after winning 4-1 on penalties. Mexico go on to compete in the bronze medal match but that is nothing to be ashamed of for them as they have shown some great potential plus they still have a shot at picking up a medal in the bronze medal match. Brazil are looking like a nice strong side so it is going to be interesting to see them in the final but it is the fact Mexico took them to extra time going to prove an issue? This was a very closely contested match and it is going to be interesting watching both teams in the future I believe. 

Japan vs Spain
This was another very close game but Spain got that one goal that was needed to progress to the final for a shot at a gold or silver medal. Spain came out as 1-0 winners against Japan but the host nation should be very proud of themselves. Japan have always been a relatively big name in the women's game but it has been a bit of a different story for the men's game now though it is like they have switched roles as the men are doing fantastic whilst the rest of the world are catching up to the women. The popularity of the league over in Japan has definitely helped in this rise I believe and the team are bringing some brilliant talent through. I think they have really shown us all just what they are capable of during this tournament and I am really looking forward to seeing them play in the future as I think they can really push some of the bigger teams. Spain are also looking very good this tournament and like they can really take home the gold but honestly how is Pedri still playing so many minutes? This was his 72nd game in the season and he is still going strong which just goes to show how much potential he has. I thought this game would end up going to extra time and penalties but Spain showed their true strength and how they are going to go out to win every game in normal time. It is a shame that the hosts Japan won't be in the final but at least they still have a shot at a medal. 

I think we are definitely going to see two more closely contested matches for both the final and the bronze medal match as both match ups are good ones with teams with a whole lot of potential. I think these four teams who have made it this far should be really proud of themselves as they have put up a fantastic fight throughout all of the competition and seen off some great teams in the process of getting this far. I just can't quite believe we are almost at the end of the competition already. 

Olympic Women's Football Semi Final Round Up


The semi final for the women's football is over and done with and one result came as a bit of a shock to me where as I more or less expected the other. We saw red cards and injuries which are definitely going to effect the next games and the results of the semi final are really going to lead us up to some hopefully brilliant games in the run up to the end of the competition. So here is how the semi finals finished...

USA vs Canada

This was always going to be an interesting game with the neighbors battling it out for a place in the final and I honestly did think the luck of the USA would take them through but Canada came out with a 1-0 victory. An early injury to goalkeeper Naeher will have surely rocked the team a bit and it was inevitably a penalty that put Canada through to the next round and left the USA in the bronze medal match. Canada are really showing everyone what they are capable of lately and it is nice to see them doing so well. It is also nice to see Sinclair getting a shot at a gold medal as she is an exceptional player who might be playing in her final Olympics so to see her guaranteed to take home a medal is fantastic but it would be great to see her scoring in the final. I do feel for some of the veteran USA players though as I really do believe the team have been overworked lately and don't look to be playing like they have in the run up to the tournament which is a shame as I really thought they could have gone home with the gold this time around. 

Sweden vs Australia

I was really looking forward to this game and really thought that it was going to be close and in theend Sweden ended up winning 1-0. It is nice to see these two teams at this stage in the competition as they are showing a lot of progress over the past few years and this tournament has really proved that to us all. Sweden are having a fantastic competition and have got some great results under their belt and I can see them really challenging Canada however, Australia really held their own against Sweden holding them to a 1-0 win. Australia are becoming a huge threat and they are still a young team so they are one to watch in the future as I can see them being at the later stages of competitions quite a few times over the coming years. I am just a bit disappointed that we wont see Ellie Carpenter again in the Olympics due to her picking up a red card in this game when it really wasn't needed. 

I think it is safe to say we are going to be in for a treat with both the final and the bronze medal match as both match ups are bound to be interesting ones. But check back later in the week to see how we think those games are going to finish and who is going home with each medal or without one at all. 

(AD) Introducing Jarrod Black : Book Review


 This book was kindly sent to me by Texi Smith for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

I have found it really hard to find football books that aren't autobiographies and are actually fiction as I would much rather read a fiction book these days due to the pure amount of autobiographies from players I have read over recent years. I really don't know why it has to be so much of a struggle to find a fiction football book that isn't aimed at kids because surely there is an audience there ready to read it? When I was approached by author Texi Smith about his book Introducing Jarrod Black I knew that it could definitely be one I enjoyed and be a welcomed addition to my book shelf as it was finally a fiction football book that wasn't found in the kids book section. I was kindly asked if I wanted a copy of the book sending to review and I am so glad I said yes. The book was a joy to read and it is actually the first book I have read from beginning to end in such a long time as I just haven't had the chance to sit and relax with a book. For this one though I really made sure I made time to sit and read it as it had me gripped. 

One thing with books that annoys me is when they drag on and are far too many pages long when the story could have been finished about 100 pages earlier. Some authors go on about specific details for much long than they need to but with this book Smith gets straight to the point so the book actually isn't too long. If you really wanted to I think you could finish it in just one evening but in the end it only took me a few nights to get to the end. I was actually enjoying it that much though I didn't want it to end. 

The book follows Jarrod Black who is a footballer from Australia who is yet to reach the dream of Premier League status, we follow him as he debates staying at a club or moving onto a new challenge, we meet his family, friends and team mates which is great as you are getting character background and why he has shaped up to be who he is and why his life is how it is. I absolutely love when you get other characters more involved in stories and not just focus on the main one as I think it helps you connect with the story a bit more as you aren't just set on that one character for a couple of hundred of pages. 

One great thing though is I thought that the book would be filled with big team names however, it is the likes of Darlington and Carlisle which is fantastic as it is could actually get fans from outside looking into those clubs just because they have been mentioned in the book that follows a fictional character. The fact that smaller clubs are referenced and so well shows that Smith knows his stuff with the footballing world and doesn't just want to focus on those big teams that everyone knows already. A lot of the book is based in the North of England too which is great as I think football in the north especially for them smaller teams gets overlooked by people outside the UK so it is safe to say he is helping bring attention to those other clubs whilst showcasing other names to those who previously might never have even heard of Darlington before. 

One thing in books I usually can't stand is flashbacks as I get very easily confused when they jump between present day and the past. However, Smith does this perfectly and there is a clear difference between the chapters so I never ended up confused and I enjoyed every second I was reading the book. There wasn't any random flashbacks either as they all flowed really well with what had happened in the previous chapter so it gave you a bit more information on why that specific event happened or his reasoning behind the decisions he makes in the future. Each flashback gives you an insight into his career when he was younger so through the flashbacks you get to see his career progression and I just think it is a great way of finding out about the character rather than just having a full book about his earlier years, in this book you get a nice mix to keep you interested. 

Something I really liked though was the fact that even tough it is a book in regards to the men's game the women's game is mentioned too which you definitely don't see very often. Smith clearly has an interest in the women's game and it's reputation as he mentions Jarrod Black's sister Anna playing in the W League (Australia's top women's league) and I already know he has plans to mention Anna a lot more as there is already a full book out just about her. I just find it nice that Smith is trying to incorporate the two as I am sure people who weren't already aware will have googled to see what the W League was and who knows it may have gained a few new fans. I will have a full review up on that Anna Black book very soon too as it is one I really can't wait to read. 

At the end of the book you also get a list of other book recommendations which again is fantastic for someone who is trying to build up a bit of a football book collection. It has definitely made me look more closely at the books surrounding the footballing world and has shown me more authors I hadn't previously heard of. No doubt I will be getting some of the books from the recommendation list as I try to grow my own football book collection from being just player or manager autobiographies to being filled with different aspects of the beautiful game whether they are fiction or non-fiction books. 

I know there are many more books written by Texi Smith that follow not only Jarrod Black but also his sister Anna Black so this book isn't just a one off which was music to my ears. I know I will definitely be giving the other books a read and following both Jarrod and Anna's journeys for as long as Smith is releasing those books. Each book is currently on the UK Amazon store so you can check them out for yourselves by clicking here. If you enjoy football and enjoy reading these are definitely a book for you to try. 

Keep your eye on the blog because there will be more book reviews coming as I work through my ever growing collection of football books now that I seem to be getting back into the swing of spending some time reading again instead of being glued to my computer screen. Introducing Jarrod Black has definitely been the book that has kick started my reading once more and I can not wait to continue making my way through the series. 

Thank you again Texi Smith for the copy of the book it has helped me get back into reading and was a fantastic read. Now on to the next one. 

Have you read any of Texi Smith's books or are you going to buy one? Come and let us know.