WHO says Bradford City haven’t a prayer when they take on Premiership club Swansea City at Wembley later this month?
Certainly not fanatical supporter York vicar Paul Deo, who is both chaplain and stadium announcer at the League Two club.
The Reverend Deo is looking forward to the club’s biggest match since winning the FA Cup more than a century ago when it competes in the Capital One League Cup final on Sunday February 24.
He says he is “still buzzing” over last month’s astonishing achievement in beating Aston Villa over two legs to get to the final, having already beaten Wigan and Arsenal earlier in the competition.
“I honestly can’t remember a higher sporting moment in my life than that great moment when Phil Dowd blew the final whistle at the end of the game at Villa Park,” said Paul, who took over as vicar of Heworth Christ Church in Stockton Lane five months ago.
Writing in his Hand Of God column in Bradford’s match programme for Saturday’s game against Gillingham, he said: “Yes, I jumped around and shouted and screamed like all the rest of you who were with me that night did.
“But within a few seconds of that final whistle and the sense of euphoria that came over me, I found myself slumped back in my seat, hands over my eyes, sobbing like a baby. It was, just then, too much for me to take on board.”
Paul, who is married to Ros and has two children, Sian, 24, and Sam, 21, told The Press that no matter what happened at the final, just getting there was the real achievement. “It’s job done,” he said.
He said he had become chaplain and stadium announcer four years ago when he was serving as a vicar in Bradford.
He said his tasks as chaplain included organising a commemorative service each year to mark the anniversary of the stadium fire in 1985 in which 56 people died, along with being available for players to talk to when thing became difficult.
He said he never prayed for the club to win a match, although he had had to work very hard to avoid doing so during the four minutes of injury time at Villa Park, when Villa were chasing the goal which would have taken the semi-final into extra time.