As the clock chimed over to the 2nd of February, the January transfer window officially came to a halt, with Bradford City having an applaudable spree of new additions to the roster.
Chief Executive Ryan Sparks backed the interim duo of Mark Trueman and Conor Sellars into the New Year, allowing the pair to have full control over the club’s transfer activity.
Whilst this was a bold move, it also proved an intelligent one. Under the guidance of new recruitment director Lee Turnbull, the Bantams have welcomed nine new additions to Valley Parade.
The first new face to arrive to the Bantams was one from down the road, as Trueman revealed the signing of Bradford (Park Avenue) shot stopper Will Huffer. Huffer was a former Leeds United academy product but doesn’t boast a large number of appearances or experience, having made just four league appearances in his career.
He featured just once for his boyhood Lilywhites, keeping a clean sheet in a 2-0 victory over Brentford. Huffer also had a brief loan spell at Barnet, but was eventually recalled to act as back-up in place of the injured Kamil Miazek. He would go on to depart the club at the end of his contract, and the 22-year old opted to join the Avenue, but was kept out of the side by the outstanding form of Dan Atkinson. But as Bradford captain Richard O’Donnell picked up a lengthy injury, Huffer switched Avenue for City as he joined the Bantams for an undisclosed fee.
The second addition to the rejuvenated Bradford side was another man with strong Leeds affiliations, as the Bantams secured Jordan Stevens on a loan deal until the end of the season. Stevens began his career at fellow League Two outfit Forest Green Rovers, where he made nine appearances before attracting the attention of Leeds, who boast one of the most prestigious academies in the country.
He went onto make four first team appearances for Leeds through 2018 to 2020, before being sent out on loan to League One side Swindon Town. Unfortunately, Stevens struggled to get going at the newly promoted Robins, making 13 appearances but contributing just twice from the right wing. He decided to ply his trade under Trueman in the division below, which should hopefully provide him with the confidence to kick on and flourish under the guidance of a former youth coach.
Stevens is a pacey, direct winger who will run at his man, but also possesses skilful qualities, often using tricky footwork to blitz past his man and create an opportunity.
The next player to be unveiled was another who had experience of higher divisions, as the Bantams welcomed Plymouth Argyle defender Niall Canavan to their ranks. Canavan is a Yorkshire lad, having been born in Leeds, but was also previously part of the Bradford academy before seeking first team football at Scunthorpe United. The centre-back made 154 appearances in the claret and blue of Scunthorpe, and even achieved promotion in the 2013/14 season in a year which saw Canavan form a formidable partnership at the back with David Mirfin.
However in February of 2016, Canavan said goodbye to the club which gave him a chance and made his emergency loan spell at Rochdale a permanent occurrence, joining the Lancashire club on a two-year deal. He made just 39 appearances in the two years and acted mainly as a back-up, and so he departed the club once his contract expired.
Canavan signed for fellow League One outfit Plymouth Argyle, but was unfortunately relegated with the Pirates in his first year at the club, making 33 appearances. Canavan decided to stick around and make things right however, as he lead the back-line in Argyle’s immediate promotion from League Two, becoming a fan favourite and recognisable commander on and off of the pitch.
With opportunities limited for Canavan in League One, he was brought in as an immediate replacement for the outgoing Ben Richards-Everton, who had become an outcast at the Bantams and opted to join Barnet in January.
In what was an outstanding couple of days under Trueman's leadership, the Bantams implemented a fresh garden of youth into their ranks, as Middlesbrough prodigy Rumarn Burrell joined the club on a loan deal that would last until the end of the 2020/21 campaign. Trueman also tied down Finn Cousin-Dawson on a hefty new contract, which has to be one of the most underrated pieces of business in the entire league.
Burrell wasn’t hesitant throughout his youth career, starting off with Coventry City before hopping to Scunthorpe , but as he was released by the Iron he didn’t travel far as he joined local rivals Grimsby Town. During his time at the Mariners, he broke into the first team and made just four senior appearances before Middlesbrough nabbed his services for an undisclosed fee. The 20-year-old has been in scintillating form in the Premier League 2, having scored 10 in 18 games last season and four in 11 throughout the current.
With Trueman acting in his usual exciting ruthless manner, he cancelled the loan of Austin Samuels, who admittedly hadn't looked good enough for League Two level, and replaced him with Burrell who looks promising. A hungry, powerful, pressing forward who is beginning to gain a reputation of becoming a headache for defenders, the future is bright for this young man- and Trueman wants to be a part of his story.
Matty Foulds is no stranger to Bradford, having been born in the city and growing up within the Bantams academy, the left-back is also a fan of the club, something which is becoming quite the occurrence.
The Yorkshireman never found his way into the Bradford first team, and so he opted to switch to Bury, where he was able to break into the starting line-up and made his first start for the Shakers seven months after signing his first professional contract. Foulds became a regular over the coming months, before gaining the attention of Premier League outfit Everton who immediately snapped him up for a fee of approximately £250,000. Unfortunately he never managed to find his way into the first team, flirting with the under-23’s for four years before being released and finding himself without a club.
Despite League One and Two interest, Foulds opted to travel abroad and take on a new challenge in Italy, as he joined Serie C side Como on a two-year contract. However, after just three appearances, the 23-year old had his contract mutually terminated to force a move through to the Bantams, as he immediately jetted back from the sun of Italy to the drizzle of England to complete his move back to the club where it all began.
With concerns looming over the future of current left-back Connor Wood, who is out of contract in the summer, Foulds could act as an ideal replacement with plenty of experience and quality in his arsenal.
Perhaps the most exciting and rousing piece of business in the window for the Bantams, Oldham Athletic hitman Danny Rowe was next through the door.
The arduous forward comes into the club to fulfil the gaping hole that James Vaughan left at the club at the beginning of the season, which was never filled due to Stuart McCall's faith in the underwhelming Kurtis Guthrie. To City fans' relief, Guthrie has now moved onto Port Vale.
The Blackpool-born striker began his career rising through the youth ranks at Preston North End and Manchester United, so he was understandably facing heavy expectations. However, upon his contract not being extended by the European giants, he admitted in a BT Sport interview that he had fallen out of love with the game and hadn’t been in a great headspace, but thankfully found a route back into the sport by playing with friends at Blackpool Wren Rovers. He began rebuilding his career in non-league, moving to Kendal Town and scoring emphatically, netting nine goals in 14 games for the Mintcakes.
Rowe did grasp a move to the National League, where he featured for Fleetwood Town before their drastic rise up the leagues, but unfortunately made just five appearances in his three years at the club. He did however have a number of successful loan spells from the Cod Army, flourishing for Droylsden, Stockport County and Barrow.
In 2013, he opted to depart Fleetwood and joined Lincoln City (also before their uprising), but never really fired on all cylinders and scored just three goals in 23 matches. However, it was after his contract expired at the Imps that he found a club he could settle at, in the form of AFC Fylde.
Fylde were local to Rowe, so it was a no-brainer to commit himself to the club. Rowe had an incredible record at Fylde, scoring 155 goals in 241 games and even scored 47 goals in 42 games in their promotion season to the National League. He was touted as one of non-league’s best players, and took Fylde from the depths of the National League North to the play-off final of the National League, and eventually his talents were noticed and he was pried by Oldham for an undisclosed fee. Rowe had a healthy stint at the Latics and showed he can do it in League Two, scoring seven goals in 25 matches.
Rowe recently had his 32nd birthday, but has had a fairytale start to life in West Yorkshire, scoring twice in his opening three games and becoming an immediate fan favourite. His direct and ferocious shot is his most terrifying attribute- he even injured the Cambridge United goalkeeper with his first shot in Bradford colours.
The third loan signing of the January transfer window, Trueman attracted the services of Mansfield Town striker Andy Cook, and even fought off competition from fellow League Two sides and a few Scottish Premiership clubs.
Cook is a renowned goalscorer who started his career at Carlisle United, but unfortunately never made his first team debut and instead enjoyed a couple of loan spells, featuring for Workington and Barrow. His move to Barrow was eventually made permanent, and he went onto have a applaudable record, netting 30 goals in 57 games. This caught the eye of Grimsby, but he didn't flourish as much unfortunately.
Cook did return to Barrow, and once again proved clinical in front of goal, netting 53 goals in 83 appearances, but this had a similar effect to his last stint at the Bluebirds and his stock rose once more, causing Tranmere Rovers to snatch up the frontman. Cook helped guide Rovers out of the National League and into the EFL, but after 81 appearances and 56 goals, and eleven years on non-league football, he earned a chance at League One Walsall.
The 30-year old spent just one year at the Saddlers, but was a regular within their squad and scored 15 goals in 40 games, before he was acquired by Mansfield, who at the time were amidst a rebuilding job. He's struggled to get going at the Stags, and now enters his golden year at a club the stature of Bradford.
A stocky, powerful forward, Cook will challenge Rowe, Burrell and Lee Novak for the singular striking position in Trueman's preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, but provides an outstanding option for this level. He also showed a brilliant amount of desire to be at the club, which is a quality attribute to possess.
Onto a player who has been tipped as one of the signings of the season in League Two, Charles Vernam joined Bradford on deadline day.
A product of the Derby County academy, Vernam made his name whilst at Grimsby. In his first year at Blundell Park, Vernam made 35 appearances and scored just three goals, but thanks to a position change he managed to up his game in the coronavirus halted 2019/20 campaign.
With six goals in 16 games, Vernam proved himself as one of League One's most feared wingers, acting as an inside forward and using his slick dribbling and daunting footwork to slither past defenders and create his own opportunities. He scored one of the goals of the season, beating five defenders and carrying the ball from the edge of his box before slamming the ball home into the Colchester United net.
Vernam was subject of interest from a number of League One clubs, but joined Burton Albion. He had a promising career with the Brewers, scoring two goals in 14 appearances and becoming a regular in the squad before he eventually left for an undisclosed fee to join the Bantams. At just 24-years old, Vernam could be one of the most exciting players to dawn the City shirt for years to come.
Perhaps one of the lesser-known names but the final signing for Bradford, 22-year old Ollie Crankshaw joined the Bantams from Wigan Athletic for an undisclosed fee.
The intriguing winger has spent the majority of his career in non-league, like Rowe and Cook, having stints at Clitheroe, Colne and Curzon Ashton before he was eventually grasped by Wigan.
Latics fans were disappointed to see him depart the DW Stadium, but it's expected he'll supply worthy competition for Gareth Evans and Harry Pritchard on the left side of midfield. His happiness to be at the club is something that has also been publicly documented, as Sparks said: "If the guy could have done a backflip in front of me, I think he would. There wasn’t enough room in the office but he was absolutely buzzing."
In what was one of the most exciting transfer windows for years for Bradford City, the interim duo of Trueman and Sellars completed the signings of nine new players. One notable factor is the buffing of the striking position, which was worryingly deserted before January and lacking quality, but with Rowe, Cook and Burrell all joining up with the squad, it's a fun time to be a Bradford fan.
Supporters were praising Trueman for his ruthless attitude towards the 'deadwood' players within the club, as the interim gaffer mutually consented to the departure of Dylan Mottley-Henry, Tyler French, Jackson Longridge, Samuels, Richards-Everton and Guthrie. All of these players were lacking game time and hadn't looked up to standard of a club the size and stature of Bradford, so the new selfish attitude from Trueman has been gratefully accepted by fans.
Overall, the fact this club has gone from the worries of non-league football and potentially dissolving to possible play-off contenders and on their best run of form in history shows how one good transfer window and the correct attitude and management can completely rejuvenate a side. This is certainly a club to keep an eye on.