Anthony O'Connor on life as a pro with Bradford City

Leesider previously played for Plymouth and Aberdeen
Anthony O'Connor on life as a pro with Bradford City

Anthony O'Connor when he played for Plymouth Argyle before moves to Aberdeen and Bradford. Picture: Pete Norton/Getty Images

THE busy schedule in the English Football League has meant that players have been kept busy during lockdown, and Corkman Anthony O’Connor falls into the bracket.

As well as having two games a week, the Bradford City player is also kept on his toes with his two children at home.

“With all the restrictions and everything been locked up, there’s not much people can do. You can’t even take the kids out for the day, to keep them entertained.

“My wife and I just had a baby girl in December and have an eight-year-old son, so they keep us busy,” O’Connor said.

“In normal circumstances, I love playing golf and taking the dog for a walk. With restrictions starting to ease, I’ve been able to get back out on the golf course and play a little bit more, but not as much because of the hectic schedule we have had this season."

Bradford are playing, more or less, Saturday and Tuesday week-in, week-out.

“The schedule has been hectic from the start of the season. The season started later because of the pandemic, so it’s literally been play Saturday, recover, play Tuesday and recover again for Saturday.

“Usually, you would have a few weeks where there are no midweek matches and I could do a bit more during the week, but since the season started, it’s more or less been Saturday, Tuesday games.

“It’s very tiring and I try to rest as much as I can when I get the chance. 

"A lot of lads in the team are starting to feel leggy at this stage, so it’s just about recovery and hopefully next season everything will go back to normal.”

NEXT STEP

O’Connor, 28, is out of contract this summer and is unsure of what the future holds.

The former Aberdeen player feels settled at Bradford and would be willing to commit his future to the Bantams if an offer was proposed.

My family and I are very settled, but I’m out of contract at the end of the season, so I have to see what the summer brings.

“Contract talks have been put to the side for the moment because we still have the chance of getting promoted and, being in a different league next season, that would change things.

“Since I’ve been at Bradford I’ve been ever-present. I’ve played over 120 games for the club, I rarely missed a game, so I’d like to think I’m in a good position to be offered a deal, but if not, we will see what comes in the summer.

“For me, it’s all about playing, so if I’m offered a deal, it’s something I will consider staying because it’s a great club and a great place to play your football, especially when the fanbase is allowed in.

I’ve played in front of 20,000 people at Valley Parade and that’s a great experience. 

Having said all of that, it’s all about playing for me and if something doesn’t happen here and I do have to travel elsewhere, then I’m happy to do that.

“I spent two years at Aberdeen and loved my time there, so I’m used to travelling and my family were brilliant with coming up to see me when they could.

“Obviously, not seeing, my wife and son every day was the toughest part of living away, but I’ve great memories of playing for them and it’s a pity I never won something with the club after coming so close on several occasions, but we could never overcome a good Celtic team.” 

HOMECOMING

While it might not be the right time now, O’Connor would like to play for his hometown club Cork City sometime in the future. O’Connor who represented NuFarm at underage level, did have interest from City before, but wasn’t ready to return home.

“A few years back, when I was leaving Aberdeen, I did get a message from Gearoid Morrissey [City’s captain] telling me that John Caulfield was interested in signing me, but at that stage, I was talking to a Championship club in England, which didn’t work out for one reason or another, and I ended up signing for Bradford.

I felt that I still wanted to stay in England, but playing for City is something I’d like to do in the future. It’s something that I always talk to my buddies from Cork about. 

"I’d love to go back at some point and play for Cork City, my hometown club. Going back to live in Cork in the future is something that my wife and I have talked about.

 Anthony O'Connor of Bradford City, presents the Junior Player-of-the-Year award to Ian Towler, at the Kilreen Celtic. Picture: David Keane.
Anthony O'Connor of Bradford City, presents the Junior Player-of-the-Year award to Ian Towler, at the Kilreen Celtic. Picture: David Keane.

“I’ve spent half my life in England, and I do love living and playing football over here, but I do get times where I miss being home and seeing my family and friends.

“I’m still only 28 and moving back is not something we are thinking about in the near future, but a few years down the line and who knows what the circumstances will be then.

“My son will be in his teens, my daughter will be a bit older and who knows what they are going to want.

“It’s not just about me I have a family to think about, but if it was me personally, I’d love to move home at some point and have a year or two playing for Cork City.”

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