We take a look at Bradford City in our third look at the teams Blues will face next season.
Up next in our preview to every single on of the teams we'll take on next season in Sky Bet League One continues, as we run our eye over Bradford City.
Who are this lot then?
Cup giant-killers Bradford City, a former Premier League side, who spent many years scrapping around in League Two before earning promotion back to League One – like Blues – via the play-offs (back in 2013).
Did they get up to much last season?
Following a 'solid' campaign in League One last season, you'd be mistaken if you said Bantams fans didn't get too excited over a season which resulted in a seventh place finish (four points off the final play-off place). Aside from the league, City were pulling up trees in the FA Cup as they brushed aside the likes of eventual Premier League champions Chelsea and fellow top flight side Sunderland before bowing out of the competition at the quarter-finals after a replay against Reading. Not bad at all.
Who's the boss?
Phil Parkinson (below) has worked wonders during his time as City boss; overseeing both a promotion from League Two to League One, as well as going on a couple of tasty cup runs since taking over the reins from Peter Jackson in 2011. Well known in Essex having been in charge of Colchester United for three years, Parkinson cut his teeth in management with the U's before moving on to Hull City in 2006 – taking over from former Southend man Peter Taylor. He departed Hull soon after and joined Charlton Athletic – initially as assistant manager to Alan Pardew before becoming manager at the Valley when Pardew departed. As a player, Parkinson began as a trainee at Southampton but left without making an appearance. He signed for Bury and was a regular for the Shakers – making over 150 appearances. He joined Reading in 1992 and went on to appear over 350 times for the Royals over 11 years.
Any stand out players?
Billy Clarke (below) has the ability to unlock any defence. The diminutive attacking midfielder started out with Ipswich Town before taking in stints with Blackpool, Sheffield United and Crawley Town before making the move to Bradford City on a free transfer last summer. James Hanson is an aerial threat for the Bantams up front, whilst in Rory McArdle, Phil Parkinson has an experienced head at the heart of the backline.
Current Blues' midfielder Will Atkinson played over 50 times for the Bantams during firstly a loan spell and then a permanent stint at Valley Parade. Others to have represented both the Blues and the Bantams include right back and current Bournemouth player Simon Francis, striker Barry Conlon, and the now retired Nigel Pepper.
What's the ground like?
Valley Parade will be the second highest capacity stadium in Sky Bet League One next season, and when full, just over 25,000 spectators can cram into the ground to watch a game. Steeped in history, Valley Parade has been Bradford City's home since the early 1900s. The year of 1985 saw one of the worst sporting disasters in history following a breakout of a fire in one of the stands, which resulted in 56 people losing their lives. The memorial behind the Main Stand is certainly worth visiting.
Blues fans will be housed in either a section of the Midland Road Stand or/and in the TL Dallas Stand behind one of the goals.
How far away is the place?
A trek to Bradford is a 448-mile round trip for Blues fans leaving from Southend.
Any big name fans?
Magician Dynamo is a big supporter of the Bantams and has been seen to reveal a City shirt during some acts of magic. The Dalai Lama is a City fan and blessed the Yorkshire side during their Capital One Cup run a couple of seasons ago. Singer Gareth Gates is also a supporter of both hometown team Bradford and fierce rivals Leeds United
Good memories against them?
Phil Brown's first game as Blues boss was away at Bradford City – which was also the last time both sides met (March 2013). Gavin Tomlin and Britt Assombalonga gave us a 2-0 lead before Bradford battled back to even the scores as the game finished 2-2.
Including the result back in 2013, Blues are undefeated against City in the last four meetings – winning twice and drawing twice.
Southend United wins: 9
Bradford City wins: 13
What are the odds on that?
Bradford City are priced at 4/1 to earn promotion from League One this season with Sky Bet.