When you think of players who play for Bradford City, who springs to mind straight away? Perhaps it is the Bermudan wonderkid, Nahki Wells, or James “he used to work in the Co-Op” Hanson? I highly doubt your first thought would be about Stephen Darby, the right-back for The Bantams.
This is my issue, however. Bradford City’s style of play relies heavily on the full-backs overlapping the wingers, creating crossing chances, to feed targetman Hanson. Darby, with his crossing ability and excellent stamina, allows for these chances to happen.
Darby is probably the most reliable member of the team, you know that every week he will perform well, but he never wins “Man Of The Match”, that accolade going to one of the more prominent members of the team, such as Gary Jones or Nahki Wells. This consistency has seen him nail down the right-back slot in the Bradford side, capped with two Wembley appearances, and impressive showings against Arsenal and Aston Villa, keeping the likes of Santi Cazorla quiet.
Such consistency saw Darby win “Players’ Player Of The Year” award last season, with his consistency and reliability being evidently recognised by his team mates.
I would use this to argue that Darby is the unsung hero of the Bradford City side. Whilst Wells, Hanson and Reid have spells of good form and spells of bad form, Darby is consistently good, dependable, and reliable. Right-back is one of the areas where City have struggled since the Premiership days, so Darby’s consistency has solved this dilemma, one which can have a big impact on a team.
A good right-back can keep the opposition left-winger quiet. A bad one can be destroyed by the opposing left-winger, and result in chance after chance being conceded. Darby has done well to nullify the threat of some of the most dangerous wingers in League Two and League One, such as Jacques Maghoma and Bakary Sako.
This is why, therefore, I believe that Stephen Darby is the unsung hero of the Bradford City side.