The impossible dream came true for thousands of Bradford City fans as the magnificent battling Bantams clinched promotion to the Premier League after a wait of 77 years.

At 3.25pm yesterday the whole of Bradford exploded into a frenzy of unrestrained joy when the referee blew the final whistle following the most momentous afternoon in the history of the club.

City's 3-2 away victory over Wolves, in a blood-and-thunder match dripping with excitement and agony, was the signal for Bradford to start a party which ran on until the early hours and which threatens to go on for days.

At Molineux three thousand delirious City fans went berserk as Paul Jewell's men jumped, skipped and punched the air in jubilation. Captain Stuart McCall even tore off his own shorts and threw them into the crowd.

Tears flowed on and off the pitch, and back in Bradford tens of thousands of Bantams partisans let out a whoop of triumph which could probably be heard all the way to Leeds.

Almost immediately thousands of Bantams fans started to spill on to the streets of the city, many taking to their cars with flags fluttering and horns blasting.

Hundreds descended on Centenary Square wearing their colours with pride. Some even jumped into the fountain outside the court buildings whilst others tried to clamber on to traffic lights.

The party went on all night with thousands gathering at Valley Parade to welcome home the conquering heroes who were attending a special reception at the club. By the time the coach carrying the players pulled in at 8pm, a chanting, singing, sea of claret and amber had engulfed the ground.

And the ecstatic supporters went wild when the players came back out of the ground to join in the celebrations.

Promotion to the Premier League was achieved after a thrilling match which saw City move into a 3-1 lead by the 64th minute. The final 20 minutes, however, were to test the nerves of every City fan to the limit with winger Peter Beagrie missing a penalty in the 77th minute and Wolves bringing the score back to 3-2 with ten minutes to go.

The final minutes of the game were all about raw courage as City held on despite a 30-yard free kick thundering against a City goalpost - the moment when a million Bradford hearts stopped beating.

Two hours earlier scores of pubs were packed to the rafters, and thousands of living rooms had been turned into City shrines as Bradford got ready to face their most important match since the 1911 Cup Final.

After it was all over manager Paul Jewell described his side's achievement as the summit of his career.

"It is a fantastic achievement. We deserved it. It's the pinnacle of my career so far. An awful lot of hard work has gone into our success."

And City chairman Geoffrey Richmond, who has achieved a five-year personal crusade to put Bradford City on a level with the biggest clubs in the land, said: "We had a season in one game at Wolves. It was heart-stopping stuff. I looked at my watch a hundred times in the last ten minutes and I was kicking every ball."

Stuart McCall, who has enjoyed glory years at Rangers as well as many outstanding moments as a Scottish international, said City's promotion was the greatest achievement of his career.

"It has been a magnificent effort by everyone connected with the club," said the man who last week was named as the Bantams' player of the season and whose place in City's hall of fame is now assured.

Meanwhile community leaders across the district queued up to add their congratulations on a day which they said put Bradford firmly on the map.

Lord Mayor, Councillor Tony Miller, said that for once he was lost for words. "It's unbelievable, it's almost unreal. I am over the moon."

Bradford MP Gerry Sutcliffe revealed that he could hardly watch the final agonising minutes of the game and said the victory would give the city a buzz for some time to come.

The Provost of Bradford, The Very Reverend John Richardson, echoed the sentiments of thousands when he concluded: "You can't print what I'm feeling like - excited, hoarse. It's been brilliant. We've had great day."

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.