The times for the FA Cup Sixth Round have been announced... and the BBC have snubbed Bradford City yet again. BT Sport will instead show the only tie without a Premier League side, and it's the first match of the FA Cup Weekender. The Guardian suggests that the Bradford City - Reading tie was the last to be picked by the two broadcasters - it's a balance between fan base size/stature and "the magic of the FA Cup"; clearly the former won.
Many Reading fans have criticised the timing of the match, especially with a Midlands derby between Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion kicking off at 5.30pm on the same day, with a 4pm start for Blackburn Rovers' trip to Anfield to face Liverpool on Sunday. If it's any consolation, Arsenal supporters face an equally inconvenient journey - their tie at Old Trafford has been picked for Monday night by the BBC.
An early 12.45 kick-off at Valley Parade isn't the most enticing proposition for Reading fans, but the carrot of a Wembley trip dangling 90 minutes away will surely be a more overriding factor in deciding whether to make the journey up to West Yorkshire.
Our early Google Maps journey planner shows it being a four hour journey (likely to be more by coach of course), whilst National Rail Enquiries suggest you get a train from Reading Station at 6.10am, via Banbury, Birmingham and Leeds, arriving at Bradford Forster Street at 12pm. No weekend lie in, unfortunately.
With that in mind we at the Tilehurst End recommend you make the most of the trip and stay the night. To whet your appetite this is how www.visitbradford.com promote the city:
Bradford has an impressive history and this is reflected in the striking architecture found throughout the city. Take a stroll through Little Germany where you can see Victorian Bradford at its best, or visit the magnificent Cathedral which is full of interesting features. For a totally unique experience visit Undercliffe Cemetery which was opened in 1854 and has been described as one of the most striking achievements of Victorian funerary design!
In contrast the newest feature to amaze you in Bradford is City Park, a brilliant new high tech water feature. You can see 100 fountains, laser lights, mist and water effects and much more. The space has gained a reputation for staging a fantastic, high quality programme of events and is very popular during the summer months.
Bradford is also a cultural city with a flourishing arts scene, fascinating exhibitions and beautiful theatres. There are attractions such as the National Media Museum, Cartwright Hall and Impressions Gallery, one of the UK’s most celebrated photography venues and champions emerging talent. Explore the city and discover the hidden gems.
To round off your trip another must try is a 'Bradford curry', as in 2013 Bradford retained the Curry Capital of Britain title for three years in a row. With over 200 Asian restaurants, many award winning, you will definitely find one that will tickle your taste buds.
We certainly like the idea of trying a 'Bradford curry'.
The good news for those who might decide to give the game a miss is that BT Sport have announced the match will be free to air for all, including non-subscribers. We'll have more details on that closer to the time. Full details of the ties and times are below (from the FA website) - it's interesting to note that the Royals get nearly £250,000 for the privilege of strutting their stuff on the telly, and will get £360,000 if they do make it to Wembley.
Saturday 7 March
Bradford City v Reading (12.45pm) – Live on BT Sport (free to all)
Aston Villa v West Bromwich Albion (5.30pm) – Live on BBC1
Sunday 8 March
Liverpool v Blackburn Rovers (4pm) – Live on BT Sport
Monday 9 March
Manchester United v Arsenal (7.45pm) – Live on BBC1
Has the early start changed your decision on whether to go? Let us know below.