The Set

The games that you wanted to be at as City went from down there to up there.

Bradford City 2 Swansea City 1

New chairman Geoffrey Richmond had arrived and given boss Frank Stapleton the huge sum of £500,000 to spend on players. Stapleton's highest profile recruit, a signing that was a drawn out as Carbone's would be six years later, was Norwich City's sprightly young striker Lee Power. Power debuted against Swansea coming off the bench after John Cornforth had curled a free kick over the City wall and in. Power's every touch oozed a class that was rare in the second division. He scored one and set up another and City seemed set for the play offs. Power fell ill, never to fulfil his promise, City missed the play offs and Stapleton made way for Lennie Lawrence.

Chester City 1 Bradford City 4

Lennie Lawrence recruited many in the close season on tall striker John Taylor, cultured left foot Shaun Murray, defender Jon Ford and, on a free transfer from Sheffield United, Chris Kamara. Kamara was thrust straight into the side in the place of favourite Lee Duxbury and youngster Wayne Benn got his chance. City pushed Chester aside in this first game of the season with ease 4-1, a hat trick from Paul Jewell signalling a spurt of goals from the striker. Jewell's goals dried up, Lawrence lost sight of his best eleven, new signings because lethargic and City fades. A season and a half later and Lawrence was sacked as so much early promise faded.

Hull City 2 Bradford City 3

Chris Kamara had taken over from Lawrence and put up an average performance for his first three months of a caretaker spell that would be complete at the end of the season. Kamara's just changed and the team went on a 17 game run of mostly successes that left the Bantams sixth on the final day of the season, Chesterfield looking for a slip up as City visited bottom of the league Hull.

The game was played in insanity. Hull allowed the Bantams fans to take the home end for financial reason. The natives were displeased and invaded the pitch in protest only to be repelled back by their opposite numbers in the City crowd (Violence = despicable but this was oddly slap-stick.)

Hull take the lead, Pitch invasion. City equalise with a short ranger by Lee Duxbury, Pitch Invasion. Kamara comes onto the field and with both hands raise,uses a force of presenece to push the City fans back into the stands. City take the lead with a rocket from Mark Stallard, Hull equalise and it's 4:15, half time and 2-2.

Cometh the hour. Cometh the Man. Ten minutes into the second half and Carl Shutt scored from six yards out to put City into the play offs. Did I mention the Horse's backside that stopped Des Hamilton from running down the right wing?

Blackpool 0 Bradford City 3

2-0 down from the first leg and the Blackpool Program features directions to Wembley. Manager Sam Alladyce says his players are playing for places at the Twin Towers. It is the seasider's name for sure.

Perhaps not. No one is quite sure how, or even why City turned this tie around. After 30 minutes the scores were level and looked like staying that say. Carl Shutt scored one, Des Hamilton got another to level up after around 70 minutes and, almost impossibly, Mark Stallard bashed a scrambled ball in in the last ten minutes.

A force of will perhaps, City fated perhaps.

Notts County 0 Bradford City 2

City fans outnumbered County counterparts 33,000 to 8,000. City stroked the ball around like a team born for the Twin Towers and Notts County never really looked like making a breakthrough. Shutt headed back to Hamilton who's mazy run past four men ended up with a shot high into the goal (At the 4th-goal-for-England-vs-West-Germany end). Second half Jon Gould tipped over well from a Notts County shot but that aside City were never troubled. Ian Sticks Ormondroyd came on, headed down a Richard Huxford cross and Mark Stallard rammed home form close range.

Everton 2 Bradford City 3

The season following promotion was thin. Players came and went as if a revolving door had been fitted to VP. Some were very good, Mark Schwartzer being a prime example, some were very bad, Erik Regtop for one, Jari van Hala another but one stood out.

Chris Waddle was coming to the end of a great career when Kamara whipped him off Falkirk. The former England lacked a burst of pace that had once taken him past players, but his ball control and passing were peerless in the game. Still few gave City a chance away at Everton in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

City took a lead just after half time with Jon Dreyer looping a shot in from the edge of the box, Andy O'Brien's own goal levelled things up minutes later and home nerves were settled. Then it happened.

Waddle had stalked the pitch before and made some good play, but the touch off and spin by Rob Steiner invited the sort of pass that only a few could play and only Waddle could play so well. A long pass dropped over the shoulder of the Swede who beat the on rushing Neville Southall to give City a 2-1 advantage. A restart and Everton pressed. City lashed a long ball clear for Southall and Andrei Kanchelskis to clear up, Kanchelskis dallied under challenge from Waddle.

45 yards out Waddle nicked the ball from then Ukrainian, Southall has come to the edge of his box for a back pass, Waddle floated the ball with the accuracy of Jack Nicholas at his best. For ever second of it's journey the ball looked over until, it dipped under Southall's bar. Cue celebrations.

Bradford City 2 Barnsley 1

A month or so before City had drawn 2-2 at home with Sheffield United and although the Bantams only had a half a dozen points at the time some astute fans noticed that something was happening at Valley Parade. This game proved it.

City had some quality in the team, that was sure after a number of excellent displays and if that could be merged with a winning steel then this team could go places, or so it was thought. Still Barnsley, fresh from the Premiership, poised problems and an hour in Ashley Ward gave the soon to be ten man Tykes a one goal lead. All red shirts behind the ball and this was the litmus test for Paul Jewell's team.

87 minutes on the clock and City have pushed McCall to right back and have a row of 4 up front enter Gordon Watson, two years out with a hideously broken leg. Equaliser, winner in stoppage time and with a force of will City get three points and a few people sit up and take notice and one man got what he deserved.

Bradford City 3 QPR 0

City were left needing three points to secure First Division status at the expense of Grimsby on a balmy summer Sunday at Valley Parade. Having used 42 players in the season Karama's first division side had a number of unlikely heroes to pick from but few were less likely than the "pocket dynamo" Tommy Wright. Loathed by Kamara and exiled from the reserves Wright had been given a chance more through the fact that he was the only player thus far not hailed as saviour and having scored in the miraculously 1-0 win over Charlton on election day 1997. Portilio's deselection was only the second sweetest moment in Bradford that night.

Wright bagged two first half goals which should have assured him legendary status had the more palatable Nigel Pepper smash a free kick in in the second half to take the headlines and manager Karama nabbed the glory. Instead that was the last game Wright played for City.

QPR 1 Bradford City 3

City had never even scored in QPR's tight West London ground when the promotion bandwagon limped into Loftus Road. Ipswich had a three point advantage and were at home to lowly Crewe. A seven or even nine point gap at close of play looked very possible.

The day was in the last ten minutes. City were 2-1 up after Peter Beagrie and Ashley Westwood had scored and a Crewe push at Ipswich which had seem them take a one goal lead had been repelled with an equaliser. City held on, fans held radio's to ears with increasing disbelief. Ipswich went down to ten men and then Steve McCauley put Crewe into the lead from a corner. Fan's celebrated and the players responded. Gordon Watson picked up the ball and darting towards goal, beat two men and knocked in. 3-1 and level pegging as the season drew towards the end...

Wolves 2 Bradford City 3

In many ways this is the definitive game of being a Bradford City supporter. Getting tickets involved queuing early in April when it looked like this would be a play off places decider. It turn out to be the most crucial game in the club's history. Travel in hope, never in expectation and as the de facto pub set up in the corner of Wolverhampton Asda many thought that Wolves, unbeaten at home all season, would be too strong and Ipswich would take the second place and the Premiership.

The game is better documented elsewhere should you even need a reminder. Key moment was City 3-2 up handing spurned a penalty that could have given a 4-1 lead. Paul Simpson of Wolves stepped up with a free kick in the last minute and curls it towards goal in bullet time slow motion. It hit the post and the rest truly is history.

Middlesborough 0 Bradford City 1

For ninety minutes to big spending big name Middlesborough battered City getting within six inches of opening what they thought would be the flood gates of a first day pummelling that would show that Boro meant business in the Premiership. 0-0 for city would have been a great result. It got better.

Lee Mills chased a ball down, lobbed a pass over the head of Paul Gascoigne to the on running Dean Saunders who fired past former City keeper Mark Schwartzer. Once again, cue celebrations.

Disreguard everything that went on after this game. The long struggles against relegation, the fact that one of these struggles was successful, the BeniCarbone-gate, Stan Collymore. Disreguard everything. This was the pure Premiership moment. This was the rest of football sticking two fingers up at the elitist top division. BfB headline of the day: Stick Relegation Up Your Arse.

Sunderland 0 Bradford City 1

Visiting teams, as a rule, do not win at The Stadium of Light. City however have always done well but with a piddling points total and a team that seemed to lack direction this was billed as relegation in all but name.

The game was City's rearguard action. John Dreyer excelled. Second half Robbie Blake stung the Sunderland bar with one of City's strikes at goal, Dreyer popped a header on the second to give City a 1-0 lead that they would not lose. This was satisfaction.

Bradford City 1 Liverpool 0

If games at Wolves, Sunderland, QPR and Boro were lucky finds for the committed City fan, this was the Bantam Nuremberg. This was the one that everyone saw first hand.

As if to put the game into a context, remembering that Liverpool had £14m worth of Champions League to play for and City had £10m of Premiership football, a minutes silence was held before the game for victims of the fire of 1985 and was extended to the 95 who died at Hillsborough. Silence never better observed.

The score was finished were David Wetherall rose to beat the meanest back four in the division with a power header midway through the first half and Matt Clarke, six months off being a City villain, was hero repelling the visitors and fortune favoured City when Gunnar Halle cleared from the line as Michael Owen's connection that should have equalised was poor.

All eyes on Southampton who put two without reply past a dispirited Wimbledon. The great escape, perhaps the Greatest Escape, was completed. Three weeks later Paul Jewell, hero of the hour, left for Sheffield Wednesday and with him gone an era of Bantam progressivism finished.

Bradford City 2 Chelsea 0

At the time his game seemed like the dawn of a new era for City. The unfashionable club in the shadow of Leeds had arrived on the big stage with some big players. Biggest of all, although probably smallest if truth were told, was Benito Carbone who never bettered the master class of this August night. Carbone got the second and set up the first for Dean Windass in a night where City competed and beat a team that had been tipped for the title.

This game turned out to be as good as City would get and arguably as well as the Bantams have ever played. From here on the season descended into a struggle against relegation which was ultimately lost and the era that began with Geoffrey Richmond taking the club to the top ended as the Bantams entered recession for the first time in the years of Richmond.

Read the second set.