Phil Parkinson felt it as the fans cheered from the rafters at the awards night in Valley Parade.

He sensed it just as strongly while standing in quiet contemplation behind City Hall at the memorial service for the 56 who perished in the fire.

There is a close link between this football club and its supporters; one forged through the horrific events of 28 years ago and what has transpired on and off the pitch since. But it has suffered.

It’s been very tough to be a fan of Bradford City in recent years; their loyalty has been stretched to the limit. Few, if any, clubs have had it harder.

What Parkinson’s class of 2013 have achieved goes beyond the mass scenes of jubilation and unadulterated joy in the immediate aftermath of Wembley. They have once again restored that special bond between player and supporter.

In this promotion-winning team, THEIR team, those fans finally have a group to be proud of again. For that, Parkinson and his squad should take a huge bow because that is the biggest prize. The man himself saw it as the greatest challenge when he accepted the job in August 2011.

He refused to buy the line that a City team could be scared of playing at Valley Parade in front of League Two’s biggest audience. He vowed to construct a team that this down-trodden and hugely under-rewarded fanbase would take to their hearts.

“I saw the way the crowd responded to the players in my first game at home,” he said. “I told the lads then that as long as you’re honest and committed, these supporters will get behind you and that’s what has been proved.

“We’ve got a mantra that we’re going to outwork everybody. We’re going to keep on until the last minute, we’re going to out-tackle and outrun and when we do that the supporters respond to it and can really identify to this group of players.

“I’ve felt since I’ve been here that there is a close bond between the city and the football club. Obviously (the fire) is a major factor to it.

“The bond was probably lost between the supporters and the team. But we’ve got that back this year.

“There is a special connection with the club.

“English supporters want effort and commitment first and foremost. If you’ve got that and quality players, that’s a good combination.”

In a strange way, Saturday didn’t feel right as a City fan. Their team don’t win big occasions like that in such an emphatic manner do they?

At the western end of Wembley – in the same seats where three months before they had witnessed the most one-sided cup final in modern history – the West Yorkshire travelling army maintained a wall of noise.

But even with the result a foregone conclusion before half-time, there was that reluctance to go overboard with any celebrations. That natural fear of something, somewhere going wrong still lingered.

Parkinson said: “It was a strange feeling because even at 3-0 with 75 minutes gone, the crowd were thinking ‘do we sing that we’re getting promoted yet?’ “I could sense they were just waiting that little bit longer. Gradually it got to the 85th minute and the supporters started to believe that we were going to do it.

“The (reduced price) season-ticket deals the chairmen have done for the supporters has been great. If you’ve got value for money, you can be more forgiving if a player makes a mistake.

“If you’ve paid over the odds for your ticket, you’ll come down maybe with a bit of anger inside.

“But our supporters have been great with the way they’ve backed us, even when we’ve got beaten or been behind in games.

“In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been to the memorial service and the player of the year do and supporters have told me that we’ve brought the spirit back into the city with this team.

“They identify with that never-say-die attitude.”

Those supporters now want to see Parkinson part of City in the long term. With the eagerly-awaited League One fixture-list only a month away, they need the guarantee that the manager who has finally steered them out of the footballing backwater will still be at the helm.

Their Saturday night celebrations were tempered by a mischievous tweet from Parkinson’s agent Barry Nevill about “some big clubs looking for managers”.

While it was not an added concern for City – an agent touting his client’s wares is hardly breaking news – that was a reminder that the contract has still not been signed.

Once the play-off hangovers subside, that will be the job in hand. It’s not just about Parkinson but assistant Steve Parkin, fitness coach Nick Allamby as well as physio Matt Barrass – the team behind the team.

Parkinson added: “When we put the staff together, I warned them we were going to have to work really hard. I said I’ll drive you mad ringing up all the time.

“We’d have to go beyond the call of duty but we’d all get our rewards. You need that total commitment.

“There is no easy way unless you’ve got a massive budget bigger than anybody else in the division, whether you are a Premier League club or whatever. The majority of teams at this level are more or less on the same playing field.

“It’s the staff who keep working to find the solutions to problems who ultimately become successful. And we’ve worked hard every single day.

“That’s why I’d like to see that everybody signs contracts at the same time. I’d agreed mine ages ago with Julian Rhodes but I want to see it all done together.

“Once we’ve had the celebrations this week, I’ll sit down with Julian and Mark (Lawn) and hopefully we’ll get that finished. I’d like to keep everybody together because that’s important.”

With player contracts to sort as well, the summer promises to be just as busy. New recruits will be needed for the step up to League One but, given the size of the club, City should not be short of offers.

Parkinson said: “Like any team, when you get promoted you’ve got to improve. We’re going into a really tough division next year.

“You’ve got to be careful not to start shouting from the rooftops straight away. When we’ve settled down, we’ll look at the budget for next season and see how we can do.

“We’ve got a great core of players but we need to add to it for League One.

“Whatever players we have, the one thing Bradford City is now known for is a group who give their all and we’ll do that again next year.”