Published on February 26th, 2013 | by Rob Britton0
Capital One Cup final: The fairytale’s conclusion
The Capital One Cup final may not have been the best of spectacles from a neutral’s perspective, but the build-up and background stories of both clubs off the field was astonishing.
Wembley was a sea of amber and burgundy from the North of Bradford, blended with the black and white of Swansea for the League Cup final, as both sides looked to complete their incredible cup runs with victory on the biggest stage in England, followed up by the ambitions of playing in the Europa League.
Unfortunately, it was more of a mismatch than expected; Swansea’s irrepressible style of play proved too much for Bradford, as they completed a 5-0 thrashing of the Bantams.
Many might agree that the dominance of Swansea in the final dampened the mood of the competition, but Bradford’s fans were ecstatic throughout the day by the sheer enormity of their club’s achievements of being the only League Two side ever to reach a domestic Cup final in England.
Bradford’s incredible journey will be remembered for many years, as they conquered teams from all divisions of the Football League to make their way to Wembley.
The likes of Wigan and Arsenal were given the boot out of the Cup by the Bantams, but their most impressive period of the cup-run was their two-leg win against Aston Villa in the semi-finals.
Players such as Nakhi Wells, James Hanson and Matt Duke provided special moments throughout the tournament time and time again, and fascinating stories from across the world were put into the spotlight ahead of their dream trip to Wembley.
From Facebook campaigns, to two-week-old babies attending the game, Bradford were the real underdogs in this final, and despite their failure to win the cup, all football fans will appreciate the ray of light Bradford shone across the game.
But with business as usual, Swansea City proved to be the dominant team of the tournament; lower league teams were unable to cope with the free-flowing play of Michael Laudrup’s men, whilst even the likes of Chelsea were caught napping against the Swans.
The prospect of Swansea competing in the Europa League next season is intriguing, as their tika-taka style of play could trouble overseas teams, bearing in mind they sign the correct players to have a strong enough squad, in order to balance their league campaign with their cup runs.
Players such as Miguel Michu, Nathan Dyer and Jonathan De Guzman have impressed throughout the crusade, and their efforts have paid off by securing Swansea’s first-ever major trophy in their centenary year.
The story of both teams will be an inspiration for the rest of the Football League; within ten years Swansea have gone from near relegation in League Two, to cementing their place in the Premier League and pushing their ambitions of European football to the next stage.
Whilst Bradford were still in the top flight 12 years ago, their recent history has seen the Bantams rooted in League Two; but the financial gain of a reported two-and-a-half million pounds from their recent cup success will maintain stability within the club and will surely help them build on their team to gain promotion in the near future.
The final was not the close encounter we desired, but the romance of the League Cup is well and truly back, as the underdog label was the key feature to this year’s campaign.
Swansea were already seen as a slight underdog to win the trophy, but Bradford with 10,000-to-1 odds to win the trophy at the start of the competition shows the magnitude of their achievements.
Both teams will look back with great pride at what they’ve accomplished in the League Cup this season, and hopefully more teams from lower leagues will take their astounding stories as inspiration for the future.