HIS two goals inspired a dramatic comeback that will go down as the catalyst of Bradford City’s remarkable rise into the Premier League.

But Gordon Watson can recall, just as vividly, the rollicking he received afterwards from chairman Geoffrey Richmond.

As the Bantams prepare to head for Barnsley for televised combat next weekend, one name remains synonymous with games against their rivals from south Yorkshire.

Watson had the knack of scoring against the Tykes wherever he went – but one particular September afternoon 16 years ago at Valley Parade stands alone in City folklore.

It was the day the striker turned ultimate super-sub, coming on with six minutes left and scoring twice to snatch the most unexpected of victories from the jaws of a 1-0 defeat.

But that did not save him from the wrath of Richmond for snubbing the press pack.

Watson’s family were based in Southampton and he nipped off straight after the game to hit the motorway for the long drive south.

He said: “The chairman was not very happy because he felt I should have stayed behind and spoken to all the press. But it was a four-and-a-half hour journey and I wanted to beat the crowds.

“Geoffrey had a go at me for wasting a great PR opportunity for the club. But I thought I’d already done that by helping us win the football match – it didn’t go down well.”

Richmond probably had a point. It was, after all, more than just a spectacular late comeback.

A substitute scoring twice in such game-changing circumstances is a great story in itself. But this also happened to be Watson’s first appearance at Valley Parade since his right leg was brutally shattered by Huddersfield’s Kevin Gray 18 months earlier.

It was a potential career-ending challenge and Watson, who won nearly £1m in compensation when he took his case to court, was never the same player again.

But for those magical closing moments against Barnsley, his boots contained the Midas touch.

“It was a dream come true,” said Watson this week. “No, it was better than that – I suppose it was just written in the stars.

“I had come on as a sub at West Brom quite early the week before but this was at Valley Parade. We were kicking towards the Kop as well, it was almost meant to be.”

Trailing to a goal from future Bantam Ashley Ward, City were running out of options. Paul Jewell summoned Watson to replace Andy O’Brien, sacrificing a defender for one more forward.

The switch paid off within three minutes with an equaliser.

Watson was involved in the build-up, exchanging passes with Stuart McCall on the edge of the penalty area before the City skipper laid the ball off to Lee Mills.

And Watson was then there to receive the striker’s pass and drill a shot past keeper Lars Leese and in off the post.

Valley Parade erupted but that was just for starters. City poured forward again and two minutes later ...

“Blakey (Robbie Blake) struck a shot from the edge of the box. The keeper blocked it and the ball just came out to me in the area – and I wasn’t going to miss!

“But that’s what I’d do as a player. I always tried to stay alive in the box and that particular day the ball just fell right there.

“I didn’t even have to watch it go into the net, in those situations you just knew. The ground just went mental.

“It doesn’t get better as far as the timing. That killed Barnsley.

“There was still a fair bit of injury time for us to hang on, something like six minutes, but I always felt we were quite comfortable.”

The previous week’s win at West Brom was only their second from the first eight games after City had pushed the boat out the previous summer. Now thanks to Watson’s heroics, belief coursed through the veins of Paul Jewell’s men.

He added: “I think the team had played better than the results before then but not got rewarded for it. All of a sudden we went on a run.

“There was a lot of faith within the group and the team spirit was frightening. Certain things went our way and the belief just snowballed.

“I got the winner again at Oakwell later that season – I always had a good scoring record against Barnsley. I remember a hat-trick there as a young lad for Sheffield Wednesday reserves and another one with Charlton.

“But that moment at Valley Parade was just incredible for everyone at the football club. The team needed to win and it was great for the fans.

“That win was so important for us at the time and you can say our run to the Premier League started from there.

“I’m glad I’m remembered at the club for that and not just for having my leg bust against Huddersfield.

“I’ve not got any negatives from being at Bradford. I would like to have scored more but that was just how things turned out.”

From eight points from eight games, City would finish with 87 – and the second promotion spot behind Sunderland. His role in that success will never be under-estimated.

Watson now works in investments in the City of London which he combines with some player analysis and scouting.

He has also done some TV presenting and is trying to move into the media. But he is unlikely to be handed a script as far-fetched as the one that he starred in.