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Ireland under-21 international Carl McHugh set for 'great occasion' as Bradford face Swansea in League Cup final

Updated: Sunday, 24 Feb 2013 10:19 | Comments

Carl McHugh: 'I'm not flying them over, Jesus no! They're making their own way over'
Carl McHugh: 'I'm not flying them over, Jesus no! They're making their own way over'

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When Bradford defender Carl McHugh agreed to get family and friends tickets for today's showpiece Capital One Cup final against Swansea at Wembley he was not expecting a request for more than 100.

But such is the intrigue in possibly the biggest giant-killing run the game has ever witnessed, a 111-strong posse to be exact will head across the Irish Sea from County Donegal to see their boy play his part as Phil Parkinson's npower League Two side bid to fulfil the impossible dream.

The Bantams will make history by becoming the first club from the bottom tier to appear at Wembley in one of English football's major finals.

City supporters camped out overnight in the snow last week outside Valley Parade to snap up the last remaining tickets and almost 32,000 will converge on Wembley to celebrate.

The club's incredible Capital One Cup journey began back in August with a surprise 1-0 win at Notts County in the first round and they trumped that later that same month with a 2-1 victory at Championship high-flyers Watford.

Bradford needed a last-minute goal to force extra time in the third round against Burton before defender Stephen Darby struck the winner and Premier League side Wigan were beaten 4-2 on penalties after a goalless 120 minutes in the fourth round before Parkinson's side secured famous wins over Arsenal and Aston Villa, the latter in a two-legged semi-final.

McHugh, 20, who headed home a crucial third goal in the Bantams' 3-1 first-leg win over Villa at Valley Parade in January, said: "I've got 111 friends and family coming over, it's going to be a great occasion, we're all looking forward to it.

"I'm not flying them over, Jesus no! They're making their own way over. They gave me the money and I got tickets for them - I didn't pay for 111 tickets!"

"I've got 111 friends and family coming over, it's going to be a great occasion" - Carl McHugh

Boss Parkinson, installed as Peter Jackson's replacement in August 2011, was given the sole remit of ending the club's six-year stint in the basement division. It did not include a Capital One Cup final appearance at Wembley.

The enormity of his side's feat is not lost on Parkinson and while he expects players, fans and staff to immerse themselves in the unique Wembley atmosphere, the 45-year-old former Colchester, Hull and Charlton manager still has promotion very much on his mind.

Parkinson said: "It's going to be a great occasion and we've got to make sure we savour every moment.

"The fans must remember they could be supporting their club all their lives and never have anything like this.

"We should all be privileged to be involved.

"Everybody needs to understand the position we are in and soak up the atmosphere."

Parkinson, whose side lie seven points adrift of the play-offs with 15 games left, added: "If you go back through history the clubs from the lower divisions who have had good runs in cup competitions find it has a detrimental affect on their league form.

"That has happened to us since the Arsenal game when our form has dipped.

"But I'm convinced about the ability of these players and even after Sunday we still have 15 big games left and we intend to have a real good go."

Bradford will mark the occasion by remembering the fans who died in the Valley Parade fire disaster almost 28 years ago by wearing specially-made tracksuit tops with the number 56 and the words 'Always With Us' embroidered on the front.

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