May 14, 2000: CITY 1 (Wetherall 12) LIVERPOOL 0

LIVERPOOL are building up for an all-English Champions League final in Madrid.

City are clearing their heads for a return to League Two come August.

Their paths have gone a very different way since a certain Sunday afternoon at Valley Parade in May 2000.

In hindsight, it has been described as the goal that had a damaging effect on four clubs.

For Liverpool, defeat meant missing out on the Champions League at the time.

It opened the door instead for Leeds, whose reckless “spend, spend, spend” approach would have far-reaching consequences.

City’s celebrations at avoiding relegation in their first Premiership season would quickly turn sour from Geoffrey Richmond’s “six weeks of madness” that followed – bringing the club to its knees.

And Wimbledon’s drop out of the top flight instead of the Bantams would trigger a decline that would see them relocate to Milton Keynes.

But that was all in the future when a packed-out Valley Parade, full to the brim for a ninth time that season, witnessed the ultimate “must-win” encounter.

It was City’s chance to make the army of critics eat their words; an unexpected lifeline for a club who had seemingly looked down and out a month earlier.

Better Wimbledon’s result at Southampton and survival was assured for Paul Jewell’s men. Destiny was in their own hands.

Standing in the way, though, were a Liverpool side eyeing Champions League qualification. They were far from on the beach like some with nothing to play for on the final day.

Twelve minutes in and it’s an image that is etched into the memory of every City fan present to witness it.

The home side win a free-kick which Gunnar Halle, the Norwegian right back who never put a foot wrong that game, hoists into the penalty area.

Freeze the picture and there is a youthful, crew-cutted Steven Gerrard frozen to the penalty spot. He is almost looking admiringly at the leaping opponent above him.

Liverpool centre halves Sami Hyypia and Stephan Henchoz are similarly wrong-footed; David Wetherall literally has the jump on them all.

Fittingly it is a player who was on the pitch for every minute of that season who would deliver the decisive blow.

Wetherall’s header flies past Sandor Westerveld in Liverpool’s goal before the scorer embarks on a swallow dive in front of the Bradford end.

Full marks for enthusiasm, less for the delivery but nobody in the City celebrations bothered with that. Wetherall is scooped up in an embrace by Dean Windass – just the 78 minutes to go.

Liverpool had it all on the line and fought back fiercely. Play bobbed from one end to another but England forwards Emile Heskey and Michael Owen got little change from a Bantams backline marshalled resolutely by Wetherall.

The tension hung in the air; all eyes transfixed on the drama – well, all except those of chairman Geoffrey Richmond who frequently looked away to watch the TV monitor by his seat showing the action from Wimbledon’s game at Southampton.

He had no need to fear on that score. The Saints won 2-0 at the Dell – a result that meant a draw with Liverpool would have sufficed for the Bantams.

But try telling that to 18,276 witnesses at a bouncing Valley Parade or players who celebrated victory like they had won the Premiership not just prolonged their presence for one more year.

As the final whistle blew, both City and Liverpool fans launched a joint rendition of “You’ll never walk alone”. An emotional way to end a heart-stopping season.

CITY: Clarke, Halle, Wetherall, O’Brien, Sharpe, Lawrence, Dreyer, McCall, Beagrie (Jacobs 81), Windass, Saunders (Rankin 78).

LIVERPOOL: Westerveld, Carragher, Hyypia, Henchoz, Matteo (Meijer 82), Berger (Smicer 61), Redknapp, Hamann, Gerrard (Camara 61), Owen, Heskey.

REFEREE: Dermot Gallagher