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Boat race sponsors Newton turn tide for women rowers Laura Williamson column

Boat race sponsors turn tide for women rowers at long last with equal funding and prestige

-Olympic-legacy.html”>150m investment in primary school sport is arriving too late to inspire a generation
17/03/13

Laura Williamson: Fergie's harmless joke highlights a more serious matter for women within British sport
10/03/13

Laura Williamson: Don Valley stadium fiasco is a kick in the teeth for the next Jess
03/03/13

Laura Williamson: Sickening response of UEFA to plight of travelling Spurs fans
24/02/13

Laura Williamson: It might all be finished for Pistorius but the Paralympic movement will survive
17/02/13

Laura Williamson: Mansfield girl made her truly amazing feats seem 'everyday'
10/02/13

Laura Williamson: Jamieson puts pool before the perks and makes no excuses
27/01/13

Laura Williamson: Netballers court fans – on the other side of the planet
20/01/13

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As the BBC and now BT Sport seem to have noted, you get a lot more action and access for your money when it comes to buying the television, sponsorship and commercial rights for women’s disciplines.

The Boat Race, an event that exudes privilege, pomp and circumstance like no other, might seem an unlikely cause to champion a step forward for sportswomen, but it is the tradition and rigmarole that makes this a particularly important development.

When Katherine Grainger returned from the Sydney Olympics in 2000 after winning Great Britain’s first medal in women’s rowing, a silver in the quad, she said someone came up to her and said: ‘We didn’t even know women rowed.’

You can understand why few — men or women — would want to, given the demands of a sport that has little time for finesse or creativity and commands absolute teamwork to succeed at the highest level.

Anna Watkins (left), with whom Grainger won gold so memorably in London in the double sculls, has said a family member tried to put her off rowing in case ‘she got big arms’. It’s all in the legs, of course, but sweeping generalisations have no time for small technicalities like that.

Watkins ploughed on regardless and, 12 years after Grainger came back from Australia with that silver medal, Britain’s women won their first Olympic gold medals since the sport was added to the programme in 1976 — three of them, in fact.

If the wheels of Oxford and Cambridge can creak slowly into action with regard to a sport as brutal and punishing as rowing, it feels like anything could happen.

WHAT THEY SAID

British athlete Lisa Dobriskey said she did not believe she was ‘competing on a level playing field’ in the Olympic 1500metres final in London and was roundly accused of sour grapes.

The gold medal-winner, Turkey’s Cakir Alptekin, is now facing a lifetime ban after ‘big abnormalities’ were found in her biological passport. Some might just owe Dobriskey an apology.

Accused: Lisa Dobriskey's opponent is facing a lifetime ban for 'big abnormalities' in her biological passport

Accused: Lisa Dobriskey's opponent is facing a lifetime ban for 'big abnormalities' in her biological passport

WHAT I'VE BEEN DOING THIS WEEK

Watched Wrexham win the FA Trophy with a 4-1 penalty shootout win over Grimsby.

On Saturday, Grimsby fans congregated in Trafalgar Square for a photo. ‘Which team is this’ said a steward. ‘So are they in the Champions League, then’ I wish.

Glory: Ecstatic Wrexham player-manager Andy Morrell celebrates with the FA Trophy

Glory: Ecstatic Wrexham player-manager Andy Morrell celebrates with the FA Trophy

Got exasperated at the persistent use of the phrase ‘pre-planned’ to describe Rio Ferdinand’s fitness programme. It is either planned or it is not, just like the defender’s ill-advised little jaunt to Doha.

Attended my first Women in Football meeting at Stamford Bridge on Friday after being, I admit, very dubious about the whole idea. I just want to be ‘in football’ rather than a ‘WiF’. I can’t tell you anything else owing to Chatham House rules, but it was certainly very, very interesting.

PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK

Arsenal Ladies beat ASD Torres 3-1 in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final at Boreham Wood.

Glad to see there’s still one English team fighting for the cause in Europe — and the women’s final is at Stamford Bridge this year, too. The second leg takes place in Sardinia on Wednesday.

Jessica Ennis wants to keep Toni Minichiello at any cost

Ennis willing to pay to keep Minichiello after UK Athletics restructure sees him axed as Olympic coach

, has lost his job as an Olympic coach, becoming a high-profile casualty of UK Athletics' restructuring plan around a single High Performance Institute in Loughborough.

Ennis wants to keep training in her home city of Sheffield – potentially at a redeveloped Woodbourn Road Stadium with her current training base at Don Valley to be demolished – and Minichiello plans to stay with her.

He has no other Olympic or world medallists in his training group, meaning he will not be due a full-time UK Athletics salary.

Minichiello
had been in talks with the governing body, and it was thought he would
be offered a new consultancy role on reduced terms to work specifically
with Ennis, but it seems he will not be taking up any such offer.

Asked
on Monday about the possibility of helping fund Minichiello, Ennis
said: 'We have had a chat and if that is what it comes down to, then of
course I will just support him where I can, and we will just carry on.'

Award winning: Ennis was given the Laureus Sportswomen of the Year trophy on Monday night

Award winning: Ennis was given the Laureus Sportswomen of the Year trophy on Monday night

She added: 'There is not going to be any change – a lot of people have said, “Are you moving to another coach”

'No, everything is going to stay the same, but we just need to find a way of funding it.'

Ennis
was speaking in Rio de Janeiro, where she was yesterday named Laureus
World Sportswoman of the Year in recognition of her heptathlon triumph
in London, achieved with a British record score of 6,955 points.

She has been keen to emphasise the part played by Minichiello in that success.

And while sure her coach can fight his own corner well enough, Ennis has also made it clear that she is there for him.

'I will obviously support Toni as much as I can, and I am there for him, because we are a team, but I do have to let him fight his own battles and get on with it,' Ennis said.

Support: The gold-medal winning athlete Ennis pledged Minichiello her backing

Support: The gold-medal winning athlete Ennis pledged Minichiello her backing

'But I do feel that we had such a great year together – it wasn't just me that performed, it was both of us who worked really hard for that performance in London.

'So it is just not a nice position to be in when you have done something so special, and then you find yourself in a really difficult situation after.'

Several of Ennis' fellow Britons also picked up awards at Monday night's Laureus ceremony, with Andy Murray claiming the World Breakthrough of the Year gong having followed up his own medal success at the Olympics – gold in the singles and silver in the mixed doubles – by winning his first grand slam title at the US Open.

Sebastian Coe, the chairman of the organising committee for London 2012, received the Lifetime Achievement Award, and there was further recognition of a memorable year for British sport as the European Ryder Cup squad, which featured seven UK golfers, were named World Team of the Year after their 'Miracle of Medinah' comeback triumph over the United States.

Among the other winners was Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, named World Sportsman of the Year for a third time after he claimed a treble of gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay in London, repeating the hat-trick he pulled off at Beijing 2008.

Jessica Ennis" training venue Don Valley Stadium to be demolished

So much for the legacy! Ennis' training venue Don Valley Stadium to be demolished in cost-cutting measure

/13 is unsustainable as the stadium is running at a loss.

Olympic heptathlon gold medallist Ennis trains at the stadium. She was also discovered at the stadium when she went to a summer holidays athletics club when she was 10.

After her triumph in August, some people called for the Don Valley Stadium to be renamed in her honour. It is also home to the City of Sheffield Athletics Club.

Preparation: Ennis used Don Valley Stadium as a training venue

Preparation: Ennis used Don Valley Stadium as a training venue

Yesterday, after she received her CBE at Buckingham Palace, Ennis said: 'I've some amazing memories.

'I started my athletics career there. Having that iconic stadium in my home city is incredible.

'And to lose that would be such a shame for future athletes coming through. So I hope that the right decision's made.'

Double blow: Ennis' coach Toni Minichiello lost his full-time job with UK Atheltics

Double blow: Ennis' coach Toni Minichiello lost his full-time job with UK Atheltics

The council said it subsidises every visit by more than 5 and it requires major repair and maintenance work – totalling around 1.6 million.

It has proposed the reopening of the track at the smaller Woodbourn Road Stadium nearby.

The 25,000-seat stadium, which was a temporary home to Rotherham United for four seasons, was built as the centrepiece of a 147 million construction programme when Sheffield hosted the 1991 World Student Games.

Bradford fans campaign for courageous Jake Turton to lead their team out at Wembley

We want brave Jake as Wembley mascot! Bradford fans campaign for cancer-survivor lad to lead team out at cup final

By
Ian Ladyman

PUBLISHED:

11:30 GMT, 5 February 2013

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UPDATED:

14:01 GMT, 5 February 2013

Bradford City fans have launched a campaign on Facebook to get young cancer survivor Jake Turton installed as the cub’s mascot for the forthcoming Capital One Cup Final at Wembley.

Young Jake, nine, touched the hearts of fans everywhere after being photographed with Bradford skipper Gary Jones at the end of the League Two club’s exhilarating semi-final triumph at Aston Villa two weeks ago.

Having overcome a brain tumour that doctors warned could kill him, Jake already has his ticket for Bradford’s big day at Wembley against Swansea from the Barclays Premier League later this month.

Sealed with a kiss: Bradford captain Gary Jones went straight to Jake after the second leg against Aston Villa

Sealed with a kiss: Bradford captain Gary Jones went straight to Jake after the second leg against Aston Villa

Nice one, son: Jake's proud dad Andy (holding balloon) watches on as his son admires the shirt Jones gave him immediately after Bradford's stunning win over Villa

Nice one, son: Jake's proud dad Andy (holding balloon) watches on as his son admires the shirt Jones gave him immediately after Bradford's stunning win over Villa

What a smacker: Jake is delighted after Jones singles him out following the Capital One Cup semi-final triumph

What a smacker: Jake is delighted after Jones singles him out following the Capital One Cup semi-final triumph

But now more than 7,000 fans have put
their names to a campaign on social networking site Facebook dedicated to
seeing Jake lead the team out at the national stadium.

Called ‘Get Jake Turton to lead Bradford City out at Wembley’, the campaign has been backed by fans from all over the country – including those of beaten semi-finalists Villa – and even by followers from Brazil.

Picture shows Jake Turton cancer sufferer who led his beloved Bradford City out during there first leg against Aston Villa

Picture shows dad Andy, Jake and mum Cath Turton, Jake was diagnosed with a brain tumour in October 2009

Magic moment: Jake lines up with Jones (left) ahead of the first-leg match against Villa at Valley Parade and (right) with dad Andy and mum Cath. Jake was diagnosed with a brain tumour in October 2009

Jake has already led the team out once – when Bradford played Villa at Valley Parade in the semi-final first leg – and his family have decided to let officials from the club make their own decision about Wembley without any influence from them.

Jake’s dad Andy – a Bradford season ticket holder – said today: 'Jake loved his big day at Bradford in the semi-final and we are still really grateful to the club that he was able to do that.

'At the moment he is just looking forward to going to Wembley to watch his team.'

City slicker: Jake poses with his semi-final scarf

City slicker: Jake poses with his semi-final scarf

Keeping up with the Joneses: Captain Jones at home with his family - Daisy (five), Frankie (two) and wife Nikki

Keeping up with the Joneses: Captain Jones at home with his family – Daisy (five), Frankie (two) and wife Nikki

Dynamo entertains Bradford City fans as they queue for Capital One Cup semi-final tickets

Dynamo adds to the magic of Capital One Cup, as Bradford fans line up for tickets

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UPDATED:

16:53 GMT, 27 December 2012

Dynamo might have expected his ability to walk on water to come in handy today as he entertained queuing Bradford City fans.

Bantams fans turned out to get their ticket for Bradford’s upcoming Capital One Cup semi-final against Aston Villa on January 8, and were joined by Dynamo the Magician.

Luckily, the rain held off and the illusionist didn’t need to put his gravity-defying stunt to the test.

Dynamo joined Bradford fans as they queued for tickets to the Capital One Cup semi-final

Mysterious: The illusionist's stunts have included walking across the Thames and predicting the manner in which Spain would win Euro 2012

Capital One made sure that the hopeful ticket buyers were catered for in the queue, handing out bacon sandwiches and cups of tea while Dynamo, himself a loyal Bradford fan, wowed them with his mind-boggling magic tricks.

‘I’m definitely feeling the magic of Bradford City’s Capital One Cup run and it was great to come down and entertain the fans,’ said Dynamo.

‘They’ve have been out in force today to get their hands on tickets and it’s great that Capital One recognises this commitment.’

Capital One provide Bradford fans with bacon sandwiches as they queue for Capital One Cup semi-final tickets

Hungry: The fans were treated to free bacon butties and cups of tea as they queued, thanks to Capital One

Dynamo entertained fans as they queued for tickets for the the Capital One semi-final clash between Bradford and Aston Villa

Hopeful: Dynamo said he's 'feeling the magic' around Bradford's Capital One Cup run of success

Hundreds of fans made their way Valley Parade from the early hours of the morning to try and buy tickets for the historic match.

It’s Bradford’s first appearance in the semi-final stage of the League Cup, and they’ve had to overcome Premiership sides Arsenal and Wigan on their way.

If they make it past Aston Villa they will face the winner of the clash between Chelsea and Swansea in the final.

Michael Woodburn, Chief Marketing Officer at Capital One, said: ‘Fans do a lot to support their club and we wanted to reward those loyal fans who have stood for hours in freezing conditions to queue for their tickets.

'What better way to stay warm than a visit from a surprise guest and a bacon sarnie and a cuppa’

Arsene Wenger tells Stan Kroenke he wants to turn Arsenal round alone

Stay out of it Kroenke! Defiant Wenger wants to get Arsenal's season back on track without interference

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UPDATED:

10:52 GMT, 14 December 2012

A defiant Arsene Wenger today said that he is determined to turn Arsenal's stuttering season around and does not expect any intervention from the club's board, including majority shareholder Stan Kroenke.

Arsenal suffered a crippling defeat at Bradford on Tuesday, when they were beaten on penalties in the Capital One Cup.

Wenger watched his season go from bad to worse at Valley Parade. The Gunners sit in 7th in the Premier League and are already 15 points behind leaders Manchester United after just 16 games.

Deflated: Arsenal lost in the Capital One Cup to Bradford earlier this week

Deflated: Arsenal lost in the Capital One Cup to Bradford earlier this week

With hopes of winning the league all but over, should Arsenal fail to bring home the FA Cup or the Champions League this season, it will be their eighth in succession without a trophy.

But Wenger has pulled Arsenal through
rough patches before, and he is determined to do so without any
intervention from Kroenke and the board.

Wenger said: ‘I am responsible for the football front, I don't expect Stan Kroenke to intervene.

‘The way to support me is to let me
do my work and do my job, I don't expect anything else. I'm very
determined and very hungry – if I wasn't I wouldn't be here.

‘I love the club, I sit here and show
how much I love the club. We have been through difficult periods before
and I know how to turn this around because I have been here 16 years.’

Wenger is looking to pick his players up at Reading on Monday evening after a difficult week, but believes he and his players should be looking forward, not back.

Crunch time: Arsene Wenger is determined to get the season back on track without interference

Crunch time: Arsene Wenger is determined to get the season back on track without interference

'We are top professional people. What
is important is what happens tomorrow, not what happened yesterday. We
are sorry for that [Bradford] but what is important is the next game.'

'They [Reading] are a team who deserve a lot of
credit because they came up last year, for me surprisingly.

'They make it difficult for every
team in every game, so we expect a battle. Our results are quite
consistent and good away from home.

'We had a good game against West Brom [and] it’s important to confirm that in our next away game.'

The Frenchman believes his players are committed and resilient enough to bounce back from the Bradford loss.

He said: 'This team cares, is serious and wants to do well, I do not question the spirit of the team.
I believe I have a strong team.

'If you look at our season at the moment, we have not produced our performances at home, away our results are in the same bracket as the two top teams.

Resilient: Wenger believes his players can bounce back at Reading

Resilient: Wenger believes his players can bounce back at Reading

Stop the rot: Arsenal are in seventh place in the league, 15 behind leaders Manchester United

Stop the rot: Arsenal are in seventh place in the league, 15 behind leaders Manchester United

'Where we have lost the points is we made too many draws at home.

'Manchester United are top of the league, six points ahead. They have lost three games, we have lost four. We had more draws, especially at home, that is where we have lost the points.'

The Arsenal manager was also asked whether, after 16 years at the helm, he had been at the club for too long.

He said: 'I can understand people
criticise when the results are not as expected. It looks like has become
the modern way to think.

'You say that 16 years can be a handicap, but it can also be an advantage because you have experience, you love the club.

'If I sit here, it is because I have really shown how much I love his club. We have gone through difficult periods before and you know how to turn it around.'

There has also been speculation that all-time top goalscorer Thierry Henry could re-join the club on loan in January, but Wenger refused to comment on the proposed move, and said: 'I cannot tell you anything about it because nothing has happened.'

SOS: Arsenal could be tempted to make a move for all-time top goalscorer Thierry Henry

SOS: Arsenal could be tempted to make a move for all-time top goalscorer Thierry Henry

Not even close: Gary Jones of Bradford scores with his penalty attempt past goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny

Not even close: Gary Jones of Bradford scores with his penalty attempt past goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny

Arsene Wenger rues sale of Robin van Persie, Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas

Wenger rues selling stars Nasri, Fabregas and Van Persie as quest for silverware goes on

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UPDATED:

17:48 GMT, 12 December 2012

Manager Arsene Wenger will always regret not being able to realise the potential of his Arsenal squad over the past two years when key men were sold.

Arsenal’s quest for a first trophy since 2005 suffered another blow last night when they were beaten on penalties by npower League Two Bradford at Valley Parade in the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup.

After guiding Arsenal to earlier great success, Wenger’s plans to build a team capable of sustaining a challenge for honours were shattered by the departures of Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and Alex Song.

Rueful: Arsene Wenger regrets selling star men over the past couple of years

Rueful: Arsene Wenger regrets selling star men over the past couple of years

In a wide-ranging interview with the January edition of Four Four Two magazine, conducted before yesterday’s loss at Bradford, Wenger admits there will always be a sense of what might have been if the club had been able to retain their talent.

'My regret is that we already had a great team two or three years ago which could compete on four fronts,' Wenger said.

'We just missed out in the Champions League [last 16 tie] against Barcelona, when we could have scored in the last minute, and then we just missed out on the Premier League too.

'But you could feel the potential was there, and I thought, ‘Okay, let’s do this together’. Then the team split up, sometimes after five or six years’ work, it is frustrating, you have to start all over again.'

Wenger added: 'We have lost recent players earlier in their careers – to lose Van Persie, Fabregas, Nasri and Song in just two years, it is a massive amount of potential, of course you worry.'

Following Arsenal’s decision to leave Highbury in 2006 for the 60,000-seater Emirates Stadium, the north London club found themselves having to battle the financial commitments to the move as well as the seemingly bottomless pockets of rivals including Manchester City and Chelsea.

Wenger turned 63 in October and his position has come under increasing scrutiny this season.

The
Frenchman, whose contract runs until June 2014, feels he must remain
true to the values he inherited when taking over more than a decade ago.

Out: Samir Nasri left for Manchester City last summer

Out: Samir Nasri left for Manchester City last summer

Him too: Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas (right) left at the same time as Nasri, but for Barcelona

Him too: Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas (right) left at the same time as Nasri, but for Barcelona

He said: 'I am not saying I never made mistakes. I was fortunate to work for this club for 16 years and I hope I respected the traditions of this club.

'I feel fortunate, but I think somewhere as well I tried at least pay the club back with the trust they had in me.'

Arsenal have long championed their self-sustaining business model.

And another one: Robin van Persie was the highest goalscorer in the Premier League last season, but was allowed to leave for Manchester United

And another one: Robin van Persie was the highest goalscorer in the Premier League last season, but was allowed to leave for Manchester United

Chief executive Ivan Gazidis maintains it is a philosophy which will give Arsenal an edge on the pitch, with UEFA’s financial fair play regulations soon to kick in.

'Let’s be clear – we don’t see Champions League qualification as enough, we are proud of our record, but we want to do more, and we will,' Gazidis told Four Four Two.

'Irrespective of financial fair play’s impact, we will be among the top five most financially powerful clubs in the world by 2014, that is when we will really start competing.'

Phil Parkinson hopes Bradford can use victory over Arsenal as a springboard to success

'We want to put Bradford on the map again': Parkinson aims to use Arsenal victory as springboard to success

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UPDATED:

00:36 GMT, 12 December 2012

Bradford manager Phil Parkinson hopes his club are on the way back after they stunned Arsenal in the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup.

League Two Bantams were three minutes away from a normal-time win at Valley Parade, with Thomas Vermaelen's equaliser cancelling out Garry Thompson`s early opener.

Unbridled glee: Bradford players celebrate with keeper Matt Duke after winning on penalties

Unbridled glee: Bradford players celebrate with keeper Matt Duke after winning on penalties

But City were not thrown off course and hung on for a penalty shoot-out which they duly won 3-2 – their ninth successive shoot-out win.

It is a decade since Bradford were in the Premier League but now, with a semi-final place secured, Parkinson hopes they are on their way back to the top.

Famous victory: Phil Parkinson's team gave Valley Parade an evening to cherish

Famous victory: Phil Parkinson's team gave Valley Parade an evening to cherish

'The lads were terrific, the commitment was first class and considering we were three minutes away…. People will talk about penalties but our overall performance was outstanding,' he told Sky Sports 1.

'Arsenal have got world class players and played their strongest team, but you have to give the players so much credit.

Quick out of the blocks: After Garry Thompson gave the Bantams a 16th minute lead, Bradford held the upper hand

Quick out of the blocks: After Garry Thompson gave the Bantams a 16th minute lead, Bradford held the upper hand

'I hope this can be the first of many nights like this for Bradford City. We want to put Bradford on the map again. I want them to have a team to be proud of.'

Midfielder Gary Jones, a scorer in the shoot-out, called it 'one of the best nights of my life' before adding: 'We've just knocked Arsenal out of the Capital One Cup. It was 11 v 11 and we had to keep our shape and frustrate them.'

Saving grace: Matt Duke repels Santi Cazorla's penalty

Saving grace: Matt Duke repels Santi Cazorla's penalty

Goalkeeper Matt Duke saved a penalty from Santi Cazorla and said: 'We set our stall out and the men in front of me were fantastic. We are really fit as a team and that showed.'

Arsenal players not to blame for Bradford defeat, says Arsene Wenger

Are you sure, Arsene 'I can't fault their effort', says Wenger after Arsenal crash out to League Two Bradford on penalties

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UPDATED:

00:52 GMT, 12 December 2012

Arsene Wenger insisted Arsenal's players should not feel embarrassed despite the Gunners losing the Capital One Cup quarter-final to a Bradford team which cost a total of 7,500 in transfer fees.

The League Two side, currently 64 places lower than the Gunners, triumphed 3-2 on penalties after the match ended 1-1 after extra time at Valley Parade.

Only one Bradford player commanded a transfer fee – James Hanson, from who cost 7,500 from non-league Guiseley plus the proceeds of a friendly.

Not the players fault: Wenger has taken an unusual stance after his side crashed out of cup

Not the players fault: Wenger has taken an unusual stance after his side crashed out of cup

Asked if his players felt embarrassed, Wenger said: 'You feel embarrassed when you don't give everything but I feel the team did fight and they will be more disappointed and frustrated.

'It's disappointing but congratulations to Bradford. They defended well, started stronger than us and in the second half and extra time it was all us but we couldn't convert our chances.

'It was a typical English cup game on a difficult pitch and overall we lost on penalties but I cannot fault the efforts, we kept going until the last minute and in the end Bradford got on top of us.

'Of course we missed three penalties and that's a lot to take.'

The Gunners did not force a save out of Bantams keeper Matt Duke until the 69th minute but Wenger insisted his team had created enough overall.

He added: 'They defended very well, very deep in their own half, the pitch was a bit slippery and there was no space.

'We played with a very offensive team and for over an hour played with five strikers but couldn't score. Where does it leave our season To focus on the next game, sport is about that.'

Bradford boss Phil Parkinson said his players – who won their ninth successive shoot-out – should be given credit for out-performing a full-strength Arsenal side.

He said: 'I don't think the enormity of our achievement has quite sunk in. When get up tomorrow morning and see the headlines in the newspapers they will realise what they have done.

Paying the penalty: Arsenal players watch on as Bradford celebrate a famous victory

Paying the penalty: Arsenal players watch on as Bradford celebrate a famous victory

Paying the penalty: Arsenal players watch on as Bradford celebrate a famous victory

'There is a big gulf between the two teams in terms of finances and places in the divisions.

'I don't want the talk to be about the penalties, I want it to be about the performance. Arsenal have played their best team tonight and we were three minutes away from beating them, then we have had the setback of conceding a goal and had to dig deep again in extra time.

'I hope this can be the first of many nights like this for Bradford City. We want to put Bradford on the map again. I want them to have a team to be proud of.'

Bradford are appealing against a decision to expel them from the FA Cup for fielding an ineligible player but Parkinson said he was not too concerned about the outcome.

He added: 'We have enough going on in cup games this season so if we do lose the appeal I won't be losing any sleep over it.'

Midfielder Gary Jones, a scorer in the shoot-out, called it “one of the best nights of my life” before adding: 'I can't believe we've just knocked Arsenal out of the Capital One Cup. It was 11 v 11 and we had to keep our shape and frustrate them.'

Goalkeeper Matt Duke saved a penalty from Santi Cazorla and said: 'We set our stall out and the men in front of me were fantastic. We are really fit as a team and that showed.'

Trophy drought: Arsenal fans' wait for silverware is set to drag on

Trophy drought: Arsenal fans' wait for silverware is set to drag on

Trophy drought: Arsenal fans' wait for silverware is set to drag on

Jessica Ennis praises family who helped her to Olympic success

Ennis: My family are the real champions… they helped me through it all

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UPDATED:

22:44 GMT, 10 November 2012

Jessica Ennis remembers the first time she set eyes on the running track at the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield. She was 13 and had been sent there with her sister, Carmel, for a summer athletics camp because her parents were fed up with their boisterous arguments.

It was, says Ennis, the place where her Olympic heptathlon triumph in London this summer was forged. While it may have been the first athletics-related reason Ennis had to thank her parents, Alison and Vinnie, it is far from the last.

‘It was the first time I ever experienced proper sport and it changed my whole life,’ she recalled. ‘It made me who I am. I’m grateful my parents were so fed up with us that they shipped us off there, because it changed everything.

A lot to thank them for: Jessica Ennis praised her family for their support

A lot to thank them for: Jessica Ennis praised her family for their support

‘It’s nice to explain properly the role my family have played and how they’ve been there for me.’

Despite the noisy relationship with Carmel when they were younger —‘we were just typical sisters, we were at each other the whole time’ — there were far larger worries in Ennis’s life as a teenager.

She was bullied at school ‘quite badly’ and made that first visit to the track with her confidence in tatters. As so often, sporting success eventually drove away her tormentors, but she has never forgotten those days.

‘With girls, I think it can be especially horrible because they know exactly what to do to undermine you and make you miserable. It’s important to tell girls of that age that it does happen, but it’s something that does pass. It won’t be there forever, I’d love them to understand that.’

Ennis’s relationship with her coach Toni Minichiello appears both hugely successful and endearingly fiery — she first used a sports psychologist to sort out their battles, rather than conquer any demons of her own.

Moment of glory: Jessica Ennis wins heptathlon gold

Moment of glory: Jessica Ennis wins heptathlon gold

Then there was a dispute with Charles van Commenee, the outgoing head coach of UK Athletics, who wanted Ennis to move to London. She refused, even when, she maintains, Van Commenee tried to use Minichiellos’s job as a lever. Did it feel like bullying

‘No, and it’s not that I’m having a dig at Charles. I’m just trying to explain that when a decision needs to be made and when I need to stick to my guns, I will do both.’

Next year she will marry Andy Hill, who has known her since school days and understands the demands of her role better than anyone.

‘We’ve been together a long time and we’ve been on this massive journey. He’s been brilliant every step of the way.’

Hill’s happiness to stay out of the limelight is matched by the rest of the Ennis family. She said: ‘They’ve never tried to push themselves forward. They’ve always been there in the background, supporting me. For them to be there in the Olympic Stadium when I won gold was a wonderful moment.’

Their awareness of her needs extended to the tactical, moving seats before the long jump started, for fear that they were in her line of sight and would be a distraction.

Limelight: Ennis takes the stage but people like her partner Andy Hill have provided necessary aid

Limelight: Ennis takes the stage but people like her partner Andy Hill have provided necessary aid

‘For them to realise the importance of something as little as that, but something that could have made such a big difference, says everything, really,’ said Ennis. ‘I’ll always remember seeing my sister in the crowd as I came out to get my medal. We’re very close — we’ve grown up now! She was in floods of tears.

‘Andy was wearing dark glasses and I later realised it was because he’d had a few tears and didn’t want people to see.’

Yet her favourite memory remains a personal one. In the wake of victory, at a private celebration with her family, her precious gold medal went missing. There was panic, until someone counted heads and realised one family member was absent.

‘My Nan had taken it and was having a little walk round, just looking at it, taking it all in. Those are the really special moments. The ones with your family.’

She giggles at the recollection. It seems highly appropriate, given the support her family played in Ennis winning gold, that ‘Nan’ was the only person at the Olympics who came close to taking it away from her.

Unbelievable by Jessica Ennis is published by Hodder & Stoughton, 20.