If a credit crunch had existed in 1997, it would probably have saved City the club record £3m paid to Portsmouth for Lee Bradbury.
Bradbury had been putting in some excellent performance for Portsmouth, scoring 15 goals from 54 appearances. His for had attracted the attentions of a number of clubs, but Frank Clarke’s City won the race and paid £3m for his services in July 1997.
Ironically, City’s first game of the season saw Portsmouth visit Maine Road and Bradbury lined up to face his former club. However, the former serviceman failed to get on target as the blues were held to a 2-2 draw.
It was City’s ninth game of the season when Bradbury finally scored the first goal in his short City career. It came against Norwich City in a 2-1 defeat at Maine Road. But just a week later, Bradbury was on target again in a 6-0 demolition of Swindon Town. Was the striker about to show his worth and justify his huge price tag?
Well no actually. He played in the 1-0 defeat to Ipswich Town at Portman Road on 4th October and didn’t figure again until 31st January in a 0-0 draw with Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park. He managed to score his third goal against Swindon Town in a 3-1 win and if we could have played Swindon every week, Bradbury would have been fine. Unfortunately, it was another eight games until his next goals, a brace against Stockport at Maine Road. Bradbury managed another two before the end of the season, but his 7 goal season tally somehow failed to save City from relegation.
The following season, Bradbury got off to a flyer, scoring on the opening day of the season in a 3-0 win over Blackpool and also in a 7-1 demolition of Notts County in the League Cup. But another two goals failed to help salvage his City career and he was subsequently sold to Crystal Palace for £1.5m.
Bradbury was then loaned to Birmingham City, before moving back to Portsmouth to make 99 appearances, scoring 28 times. Following spells with Walsall, Oxford and Southend, Bradbury moved to Bournemouth in 2007, where he has scored one goal this season.
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