Stuart McCall was playing at Valley Parade on that fateful day in May of 1985 when 56 people died in the inferno that engulfed one stand. His own father received burns that day. Stuart McCall played 395 games for the Bantams. He captained the club. He managed there during a difficult time for the club between 2007 and 2010. He returned there as manager in 2016 and took the team into the League 1 play offs.
Following six consecutive defeats, Stuart McCall has been sacked by Bradford City.
McCall told the Bradford Telegraph & Argus on Monday: “When I got the text this morning to come in a bit earlier, I had a slight inkling what was going to happen.
“I’m obviously very disappointed but not surprised. When you’ve had a month like we’ve had and lost six on the bounce, then it leaves you open to being sacked.
“We’ve had one horrible month after 18 months of progression and improvement, getting to Wembley and having more points after the Fleetwood game than the same time last season.
“For lots of different reasons, January was really difficult.
“Yes, we’re in a rotten bit of form. Did I deserve the sack for this last month? Yes.”
“I probably deserve a medal for the previous 17 months with the trials and tribulations.”
How right he is. I cannot know what has gone wrong at Bradford City the last few weeks. The drop in form and results has been sudden, unexpected and sustained. Perhaps McCall or the players know why.
But unless there has been a complete breakdown in relations between McCall and his players, I would maintain that Stuart McCall deserved more patient treatment from the club owner. His devotion to the club over many years warranted that. Almost every club has a bad run during any season. This was the first at Bradford City for a long time.
McCall added: “When I left last time, I left with a real despondency. But I genuinely feel I can leave this time with my head held high.
“Somebody had told me this morning that the players had let me down – they certainly haven’t done that for 18 months. Did we punch above our weight? I’ll have to honestly say yes.
“I’m disappointed because the players that eventually came in, allied with the good ones coming back into the squad, will give the squad a much stronger look.”
McCall was more annoyed that the players learned of his sacking on TV. He wanted to be able to tell them himself, but clearly the journalists knew about his fate before he did.
He said: “That probably disappointed me more than what had happened half an hour earlier. I wish all the players, the staff and the fans all the luck in the world and thank them for their fantastic support.”
And I wish Stuart all the best for the future. Sometimes going back to manage a club where you have been a popular player is not a good idea. He’s done so twice. No more. Stuart McCall owes Bradford City football club nothing. I hope he finds success elsewhere. Stuart McCall is one of the good guys of football.