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Official Review by Matt Rees, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Coral Windows Stadium is home to Bradford City or "The Bantams" as they are locally known. Bradford City's stadium is known as Valley Parade by most football fans. Valley Parade has been the home of Bradford City since 1903. Sadly, on May 11th 1985, a stand caught on fire, tragically killing 56 people and injuring 265. This resulted in a £2.6 million redevelopment of the stadium and it later reopened in December 1986.
Through the 1990's and early 2000's, the stadium endured numerous developments to boost the capacity to over 20,000. After ten years of work, the "Kop" end and "Bradford Stand" we're changed into brand new, double tier, all-seater grand stands.
The Bantams have seen a bitter decline in the last ten years. After two years in the Premier League (1999-2001), they have slowly plummeted to the bottom tier of English football. However Bradford, to the amazement of everyone, made history by making it to the 2013 League Cup Final at Wembley Stadium. En route to the final, they defeated three Premier League teams; the most memorable being a home win against Premier League giants Arsenal. After a tense affair, the game finished 1-1 and was taken to penalties, where Bradford won 3-2. The game broke the record for the highest attendance at the newly renovated Valley Parade.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The food inside the stadium is as expected. There's a range of options including a cheeseburger for £3.10, a spicy chicken balti pie for £2.60 and "stadium dog" for £2.90; all of which were pleasant to eat. The beer in the ground is £3.20, which is fairly cheap compared to other similar stadiums.
Although Bradford are a club that have seen a huge decline in the last ten years, the high attendances are still there and the Bantams can easily say they have the best support in League 2. When Arsenal and Aston Villa visited Valley Parade in the League Cup, the noise produced was incredible. As an away fan at one of these games, the atmosphere was hostile and the best I've ever seen. And when the Bantams scored, it was unbelievable! It was something that a sports fan just had to witness. Bradford are a credit to League 2 and the noise made is quite remarkable.
The surroundings of the Coral Windows Stadium are pleasant and when walking in and around the stadium you feel very safe. Bradford isn't renowned for being a nice place, but I can't really fault the neighbourhood. On the way up to Valley Parade, you are constantly walking by a main road passing some shops on the way. Police patrol the area very well and overall the area is fine for a visiting fan.
There is also delicious food on offer just on the outside of the ground. As Bradford has a huge Asian community, many Indian restaurants and takeaways are located around the stadium. The highly rated curries are amazing and will set you back about £6 - well worth it! If you're not a lover of the curry, there is no need to worry as many other takeaways are nearby and a couple of burger stands are dotted around. In addition to this, a McDonalds is also nearby. The quality and range of food is brilliant in Bradford and can arguably boast some of the best grub in the country!
Bradford have a superb set of fans and have the best home support in League 2, averaging over 10,000 per game. Most of the fans sit in the lower tier of the grandstands and do make a fair bit of noise. The Bantams have a great away support as well, filling most away sections week in week out. After many tough years, they were rewarded with a trip to Wembley.
There was a case of one fan in Australia, who said if he got 1 million "likes" on Facebook, his wife would let him go to Wembley. He ended up achieving his goal and this just shows how dedicated City's fans are. They are a friendly bunch and it is very hard to find any way to criticize them.
Valley Parade is accessed fairy easily, however getting to Bradford in general is a nightmare. I don't quite know why getting to Bradford is such a difficulty, but once you arrive, the traffic around the stadium is dealt with well and moves fairly quickly.
Although there are a couple of official car parks, parking is not that easy and many fans end up parking on the road near the Kia Car Dealership. It's normally a 15 minute walk from here and if you don't know your way to the ground you can follow the Bradford fans. This seems to be the popular option, but if you want to get a spot in one of the car parks, I would get there early! Other than that, getting into the stadium is fine and if you need any help, you can always ask one of the friendly stewards. If travelling by train, it's a fairly long walk from the Bradford interchange (20 minutes), so I advise you get a taxi for about £6.
My experiences of visiting Valley Parade have been enjoyable, however I wouldn't say it was a day to remember for years to come. For a League 2 club, prices are fairly expensive and this is due to the recent administrations. Admission prices are £20 for an adult, £14 for a senior citizen and £12 for a U16. U11's can get in for free, but this is only if you have a full paying adult with you and that you're a member of the club.
League 2 football isn't a superb standard, but it's a fun day out and has a nice family atmosphere. The defensive and attacking game of the lower leagues is fascinating and with Bradford being one of the better teams, I would highly recommend going to watch them play. For the best seats in the house, I would sit in the Carlsberg Kop Stand in the lower tier. The fans are amazing in this certain area and you have a direct view behind the goal.
The usual program is on sale at £3 and also a fanzine is on sale at £2. The fanzine is the longest running in the UK and is quite an interesting buy.
For the 2013 season, Bradford have a blend of young and experienced players on their team. Matt Duke is a solid goalkeeper and captain Gary Jones is what you call, a "proper" midfielder. The exciting talent that can be seen, include strikers Nahki Wells and Zavon Hines, who have very bright futures in front of them.
All in all, it's a great day out. I would highly recommend visiting Valley Parade, because the stadium and atmosphere is superb. Also, there are many different qualities to this stadium, which you just don't get in others.
In addition to this, you can have a weekend out in Bradford. Evening performances at the Alhambra Theatre are regular and also visiting the National Media Museum is something you have to do.
It's a great stadium, with a superb set of fans and overall an enjoyable day out!
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