YORK City have caused a fair number of FA Cup upsets over the years with mighty London outfits Arsenal and Tottenham among their famous conquests.

But ex-Minsterman James Meredith was part of a Bradford City side last weekend which is now being lauded as the 143-year-old competition’s greatest-ever giant-killers.

Left-back Meredith, who spent three seasons at Bootham Crescent from 2009 to 2012, completed the full 97 minutes of the Bantams’ incredible 4-2 victory at Premier League leaders Chelsea.

The League One outfit recovered after trailing to goals from England defender Gary Cahill and £20 million Brazil international Ramires with 38 minutes on the clock to storm into the last-16 following replies from Jon Stead, Filipe Morais, Andrew Halliday and Mark Yeates.

It was a result that sent shock waves reverberating around the globe, including in Meredith’s Australian homeland, where his family watched the drama unfold.

The 26-year-old defender said it was an occasion that eclipsed all his previous achievements, including a hat-trick of combined Wembley victories as a player with the Minstermen and Bradford.

“It’s definitely top of the list in terms of my footballing experiences,” he admitted. “It was a really special day for us as players and everyone involved with the club, including the fans who were there and are still buzzing.

“I thought we could play well and maybe get a draw, but I never dreamed we could come away from Stamford Bridge with that score-line. I know it was voted the biggest FA Cup shock of all-time by Sky and it’s great to be a part of that.

“I’ve received messages from all over the world and people from back home have been contacting me. My best mate even flew over from Australia on the Friday and got to Stamford Bridge just before kick-off.

“He then flew back on Sunday morning and was in work on Monday, so I gave him my shirt and Oscar’s shirt to take back with him. My parents got to watch it online late at night and contacted me to say how proud they were of our unbelievable achievement.

“It was a really tough game but we showed just as much quality as them. We maybe had a bit of luck because they didn’t take a couple of opportunities but James Hanson was a handful for them too.”

Meredith confessed, however, that following Ramires’ second goal, his chief concern was avoiding potential humiliation.

He said: “We knew, at 2-0 down, we had to get tighter and steady the ship because, if we pushed on, three could quickly become four and it could end in a big embarrassment.

But Jon Stead put a great goal in the top corner and, at 2-1, we were back in the game.”

Bradford boss Phil Parkinson then set about masterminding arguably the greatest half of football the FA Cup has ever witnessed.

On his half-time team talk, Meredith revealed: “It was all about sticking to our game plan of working hard, pressing them and moving the ball around quickly to counter attack and create chances. The management also told us not to try to run through players like you might do in League One because, if you give the ball away, you’ll get punished.

“Everybody took all of that on board. They put us under a bit of pressure at the start of the second half but we tucked in and absorbed it before hitting them twice on the counter attack and I believe we wanted it more than them.”

After Morais had equalised on 75 minutes, Meredith insisted there were no thoughts then of bringing the former European champions back to Valley Parade with confidence coursing through the visitors.

York Press:

ALL SMILES: James Meredith, far left, can hardly believe it as Bradford score again in the FA Cup shock at Stamford Bridge

“We weren’t thinking about a replay and our 6,000 fans were screaming much louder than their 36,000,” the Albury-born full-back explained. “In our heads, we thought we could upset them here.”

Halliday subsequently added a third seven minutes later and Meredith’s mindset switched to maintaining focus and avoiding getting wrapped up in the magnitude of what was occurring.

Describing his emotions at that point, he explained: “When the third goal went in, everyone was going nuts but we knew it would only take one chance for someone like Didier Drogba to change everything, so we tucked in again and played on the counter but, when the fourth official put up seven minutes, I was still thinking ‘we’ve got to get through this’.

“Mark Yeates went on to score but the last ten minutes of the game still seemed like the longest of my life. They had a lot of possession and we had tired legs, so it was really down to concentration.

“Finally, the whistle came and everyone was screaming and shouting. After the handshakes, we went over to the fans who were going crazy with what you can only describe as disbelief and it was a great, great feeling.”

Those raucous scenes carried on into the dressing room, where the Bradford players were visited by gracious home boss Jose Mourinho.

Recalling that moment, Meredith said: “Everyone was celebrating, then Jose Mourinho walked in and the whole room was silent because he has such a presence.

“He shook everyone’s hands, said well done and told us he fully respected what we had just done.

He was a real gentleman in defeat.”

Meredith, himself, kept the post- match celebrations low key, enjoying a meal in a London restaurant with his girlfriend and pal from down under. He also pointed out that attention soon switched to this weekend’s home match with Colchester and the continued quest for promotion to the Championship.

“We spoke about the game on Monday but, by Tuesday, we had moved on and were totally focused on Colchester,” Meredith revealed.

“Nobody in the team will have any trouble concentrating on that.

“That Chelsea game is long gone now and our main priority is to consolidate a play-off position.”

The ex-Telford left-back did agree, however, that he will take great belief into that match after the way he defended against some of the planet’s finest attacking talents.

“I was up against Mohamed Salah, then Loic Remy came over and Willian swapped with Eden Hazard towards the end,” he added.

“Salah had frightening pace and Hazard lightning-quick feet but the only time I nearly got taken on was when Oscar drifted out wide and dropped his shoulder on me.

“He then pulled me down though and the referee gave us a free-kick. It does give you confidence in your ability and in the team when you hold your own against those type of players.”

Meredith is now hoping that an FA Cup semi-final or final clash at Wembley could compensate for missing out on Bradford’s surprise Capital One Cup final meeting with Swansea in 2013 due to glandular fever.

“It still really upsets me that I missed the final, but all I can do is work hard and try and get in that position again,” he reasoned.

Sunderland or Fulham will replay to decide who visits Valley Parade for the fifth round in a fortnight’s time and Meredith does not expect either team to take the Bantams lightly, explaining: “I think they will find our pitch difficult as well as the way we play but they are both very good teams and, after the Chelsea result, they will not go into the tie with any form of complacency. They know they will be in for a tough game.”

York Press:


LAST season’s The Press Player of the Year Keith Lowe has moved to within two points of this term’s leader Russell Penn.

Lowe closed the gap after picking up a point as our third- highest rated performer during last weekend’s 1-1 home draw with Burton.

The Press man-of-the-match John McCombe (three) and debutant Emile Sinclair (two) were also recognised with points for their efforts.

Sinclair, pictured above, meanwhile, received the two Player of the Month bonus points on offer to the player who received the most man-of-the-match votes from followers of the @daveflettpress Twitter account and visitors to the www.yorkpress.co.uk website.

To be in with a chance of presenting The Press’ Player of the Month prize for January on the pitch before a home game, register your man-of-the-match vote for today’s away match at Burton by visiting www.yorkpress.co.uk or tweeting @daveflettpress.

The Press Player of the Year standings: Penn 21, Lowe 19, Coulson 18, Ilesanmi 16, McCombe 14, Summerfield 13, McCoy 12, Hyde 10, De Girolamo 9, Ingham 8, Montrose 7, Straker 7, Fletcher 6, Olejnik 6, Zubar 5, Cisak 3, Halliday 3, Jarvis 3, Carson 2, Sinclair 2, Winfield 2.

The Press Player of the Month January standings: Olejnik 8, Penn 5, McCombe 4, Sinclair 4, Carson 2, Coulson 2, Halliday 2, Lowe 2, McCoy 2, Summerfield 1.

Goals: Hyde 6, Lowe 5, De Girolamo 4, Fletcher 4, Coulson 3, Summerfield 2, Carson 1, Penn 1, Sinclair 1, Winfield 1, Zubar 1.

Assists: Coulson 8, Hyde 4, McCoy 3, Meikle 3, De Girolamo 2, Penn 2, Carson 1, Fletcher 1, Lowe 1, McCombe 1, Montrose 1, Straker 1, Summerfield 1.

Bad boys: Penn one red, five yellow; McCoy three yellow; Halliday one red, one yellow; Carson, Fletcher, Hyde, Ilesanmi, McCombe, Montrose all two yellow; Jarvis one red; Coulson, Lowe, Platt, Straker, Summerfield all one yellow.