Peggs Green, Leicestershire born centre forward or inside left Joe Bradford began his football career after the end of the First World War with Coalville Town and Leicester Senior League club Peggs Green Victoria before joining Birmingham in February 1920 for a £125 transfer fee after trials at Derby County and Aston Villa. He made his Football League debut at West Ham United on Christmas Day 1920, scoring in a 1-1 draw at Upton Park. Bradford made 445 appearances for Birmingham City in all competitions over the next fifteen seasons, scoring 267 goals. He is Birmingham’s all-time leading goalscorer and remains a considerable star name in the history of Birmingham City.
In his first season he only played 5 times as Birmingham won the Second Division Championship, but after 1923 he was a near ever present forming a great partnership with Johnny Crosbie. He won the 1923 FA Charity Shield scoring for The Professionals against The Amateurs at Stamford Bridge, after which he was capped 12 times for England through to November 1930, scoring seven goals for his country, including a goal on his debut against Ireland at Windsor Park, Belfast in October 1923, and he also played five times for The Football League, indeed he scored five goals for The Football League in one match against The Irish League in a 7-2 victory at Goodison Park in September 1929.
He topped the club’s scoring charts in all but one First Division season between 1921-22 and 1932-33, and if goals in all competitions are counted, he was top scorer in all twelve of those seasons. He scored 4 goals against Cardiff City in September 1927 and against Blackburn Rovers in February 1931, and notched eleven other career hat-tricks for Birmingham. Bradford also scored Birmingham’s only goal of the 1931 FA Cup Final at Wembley, in which they were beaten by West Bromwich Albion. Already in his mid-30’s, he joined Third Division (South) club Bristol City in May 1935, scoring once in five League appearances in the autumn of 1935, and he retired at the end of the 1935-36 season.
He was the older brother of Billy Bradford (who was on Birmingham’s books in 1923-24 and played for Walsall between 1926 and 1938, also playing for Preston North End and Brighton & Hove Albion). He was a cousin of Leicester City’s Hugh Adcock, together with whom he played for England.