This is what the League Cup early rounds should be about. I've always loved the competition, but with wholesale changes now the norm and Rovers' dismal record in the last decade, it had lost its gloss.
The shortish journey to Yorkshire made for a cracking tie. It reminded me of some of the League One away days, like Bury and Rochdale, with an away following of 1,505 packing into the stand.
Rovers v Bradford matches are a rarity and it was a first visit to Valley Parade for me. What a stadium! I love the huge intimidating new stands juxtaposed with the relics of the older bits. It deserves much more than League Two.
Despite the inevitable changes, the youthful Rovers side stepped up and showed their talent with some slick passing phases, just like in the Hartlepool match. Both teams were desperate to win (no doubt helped by the ex-Rover links). Full-blooded challenges were flying in everywhere, with the ref struggling to keep control and making some iffy decisions.
Bradley Dack scored another typical Dack goal – he has to be starting league matches by next month. Dilan Markanday surely can't be far off making appearances off the bench either.
Fantastic sunsets were seen on a lovely warm evening as Rovers recorded a comfortable 2-0 win, to further heal the embarrassment of those tepid first round exits in recent memory. Did I say 2-0? Yeah, I missed the Bradford goal, after being caught up in the ticket debacle.
Of course, it's a risk you take turning up without tickets – but apparently there'd been a struggle to get hold of them anyway, with some fans having to buy them directly from Bradford. Personally, I'd been too busy with Issue 105 of 4,000 Holes to sort myself out and was reassured by the club statements saying that card payments at the gate were allowed.
We arrived to six turnstiles but just ONE was open to those paying on the night – a painstakingly slow process apparently including tickets being printed ad hoc. Confusion was also caused by all six turnstiles being signed "Tickets Only".
While Bradford clearly didn't expect so many to turn up, the officials were not proactive enough to deal with the developing situation. Only at 8.05pm did they decide to open a second turnstile and suddenly allow cash payments. Some people gave themselves a discount and slipped through for £10.
I had actually arrived at the away entrance area at around 6.55pm so I could've avoided the chaos but for two things (I eventually got in the queue at 7.25pm).
I'd arranged to meet Mike Harrison, the editor of Bradford fanzine 'The City Gent' – now into its 39th season, making it the longest-running fanzine in the country. We had a good chat for 10 minutes about the joys of running fanzines, and took the obligatory selfie with our respective efforts.
Then I'd planned to flog a few copies of the new issue – a very respectable hot-off-the-press dozen sold (away sales are always a bonus) and some familiar chats: "I didn't realise it was still running!" and the guy who always overpays and tells me, "You should charge more!"
Anyway, I know I'm biased, but the new issue is a cracker: a brilliantly obscure '101 Great Goals' addition, a focus on 'Eurover' programmes, the story behind one of the greatest photos ever taken at Ewood, a new Ian Herbert series on kits, Fred Cumpstey returning with his very popular articles on former players (this time a tribute to Ally MacLeod), and an extensive interview with Chris Sutton. Plenty more too!
113 were packed and posted out yesterday, with another 60-odd going out today. Order here if you're interested. I'll have 100 on Kidder Street on Saturday too. Would love you to buy one for the scandalously cheap £1.50, while I recheck my back-of-fag-packet finances.