City 3, Northampton Town 0

Make room Molineux; bring on Bramall Lane – and don’t bother waiting up Dagenham.

Phil Parkinson’s Bantams bandwagon can plan next season’s route around the highways and byways of League One.

After enduring six years in football’s basement, City will rejoin a division where they will no longer be the team with the target on their backs; the side that everybody wants to have a pop at.

No, leave that dubious honour for Wolves and the likes of Sheffield United. After too long as the ‘freak’ act in the lowest league, City are back on a footing more suited to the size of the club and their surroundings.

And this, we hope, is only the start. We’ve heard the talk of bottoming out and bouncing back for years; Saturday afternoon was the first evidence that the giant seriously is beginning to stir.

For the neutral watching on television, it looked as much of a mismatch as City’s last trip down Wembley Way in February. One team dominated while the other froze in the spotlight.

Only this time the boot was gloriously on the other foot. Where the Bantams had chased Swansea shadows in the Capital One Cup, it was Northampton’s turn to trail hopelessly in the slipstream.

Drama? You’d see more in an average episode of Emmerdale. But for scenes of sheer joy and mass pandemonium, you’d be hard pressed to top the reaction of the west end of this famous stadium.

Borussia Dortmund’s famed fans will cram into those seats next Saturday for the Champions League final. Bet they still won’t top the decibels generated by the travelling Bantams as a decade or more of bottled-up hurt and frustration came tumbling out in that glorious opening half hour.

A City triple blast and the contest was over. Call it a play-off final? This was just a normal day in the office.

And that’s exactly how Parkinson had wanted it. Nothing flash, nothing fancy; an afternoon of graft and hard work to seal a season that will rightly take its place among the very best in the club’s 110-year history.

Northampton had done all the traditional pre-Wembley bit with the suit fittings and the extra press conferences. Not for City, though.

They had gone through that rigmarole in February ahead of the Swansea game. This time it was strictly business.

Everything had been prepared as if it was a normal league trip to London. The media requirements were restricted to the usual Thursday lunchtime; when the players had an early look at the pitch, they appeared in tracksuits.

They could have been playing Brentford just down the road rather than in a promotion-clinching decider.

“That was the key for us,” said Parkinson. “We had the experience of being here before and all the build-up, whether it’s the suits, ticket demands, how your family’s going to get down, new outfits for your wife and kids.

“It can drain a lot of energy from you, so we took that away from the lads this time. We were here to do a job to finish off our season in style.

“Temperament is a big word in football; it means handling the occasion and this was a far bigger game than the Capital One Cup final. It shapes the future of the club and the players handled it really well.”

That approach even continued with the dignified way they sought out their beaten Northampton opponents with sympathetic handshakes before the post-match celebrations kicked in. City really did the job with class.

And when it came, the wild outpouring of emotion was not restricted to the supporters. In the royal box, Mark Lawn threatened to squeeze the life out of Gary Jones with a bear hug before the skipper lifted the trophy.

But then Lawn, like co-owner Julian Rhodes, remains a massive supporter; two fans at the heart of this club who have gone – in their manager’s words – “above and beyond” through tough times when others may have chucked it in.

Lawn’s permanent beam at the post-match promotion party back at Valley Parade showed how much this long-awaited day in the sun meant to those whose financial input kept the club ticking through the hairiest moments.

For every City fan, the best thing about the game was the absence of any hint of a Northampton comeback. Where was the nail-gnawing tension that these events are supposed to create?

City equalled the most emphatic play-off final win at this level and they did it before we’d even got to half-time. Their stranglehold over the Cobblers – only two defeats in 20 now – was maintained with three almost identical goals.

The talk beforehand had centred on how City’s defenders were going to handle Northampton man mountain Adebayo Akinfenwa. But that was a complete red herring as Akinfenwa, all 17 stone of him, was left on the bench by Aidy Boothroyd.

Instead, it was City’s heavyweight attack that took centre stage as James Hanson and Nahki Wells reduced the Cobblers’ rearguard to a gibbering wreck.

The big, wide Wembley surface was the perfect stage for Kyel Reid and Garry Thompson to stretch the play and whip in early crosses for the front two to do their damage. Northampton’s defence were pulled here, there and everywhere.

And for a team who are built on creating pressure from long throw-ins, the generous pitch dimensions neutralised much of that threat. Boothroyd had fielded two wingers as well but they never threatened to repeat the success of their City counterparts.

With Andrew Davies and Rory McArdle effectively muzzling Clive Platt, Northampton’s attack packed the punch of a feather duster.

City jumped straight out of the blocks and deservedly went ahead after 15 minutes. James Meredith backed up Reid and when his cross eluded everybody, Thompson chipped it back in for Hanson to head home.

It was the scenario that the local lad had dreamed of as he soaked up the cheers from scoring at Wembley – and the Co-op song was still ringing round when City made it two.

Again it began from the left, this time with a short corner to Reid. His centre, like Meredith’s just before, was on the deep side but Nathan Doyle came round the back to clip it in for McArdle to get in front of Clarke Carlisle with a thumping finish.

It was the defender’s first goal since the one against Aston Villa made famous by Martin Tyler’s shriek – he sure saves them for the big occasion.

This was pure fantasy for the Bantams but the onslaught was not finished. Reid’s cross was headed back by Thompson and Wells bagged his usual goal against Northampton with a close-range volley. Referee Keith Stroud might as well have called a halt after 28 minutes.

City’s record-breaking campaign signed off on the highest note possible. They can enjoy the rest in the knowledge of a job brilliantly done.

The post-season trip to Vegas, which had been brought up after Wembley part one, may not be happening now. But this team have already landed the jackpot.

Welcome back Bradford City.

Attendance: 47,127