THE mob of City players race towards the crowd screaming and shouting in a picture of pure ecstasy.

The image of David Ball leading the wild charge in front of the Kop was at odds with most of what transpired in a dreadful season.

There were few highs in the slide to relegation from League One. But that instance when Ball had scored the winner against Shrewsbury deep into stoppage time was the stand-out.

Having seen a two-goal lead pegged back just seconds before, he went straight up field with a finish that raised the roof on a chilly January night.

“I still watch that goal back again,” said Ball from Sydney, where he is currently in self-isolation with his Wellington Phoenix team. “It’s one of those special moments.

“You can’t really explain that feeling to score in front of the Kop end like that.

“Those times are the best thing about football.”

Ball scored seven times in all from 42 appearances after joining on a year’s loan from Rotherham.

Technically signed when Michael Collins was briefly in charge, although the paperwork was not completed until after the head coach had been sacked, he would become a key player for David Hopkin.

Unfortunately, his time under Gary Bowyer then proved limited as a knee injury ruled him out for the last five games.

It meant Ball, who moved to New Zealand last summer to play in the A League, never got the chance to say a proper goodbye to a club who would love to have kept him.

Ball looks back on his time at Valley Parade with a mixture of regret – and personal pride.

“The biggest disappointment for me was obviously what happened at the end.

“It was the first time I got relegated on my CV and it was not something I ever wanted.

“Personally, I learned a lot about myself in terms of where I could play on the pitch and different positions.

“Obviously it was tough the way things were going but I actually really loved my time at the club.

“I learned a lot about what it’s like to play for such a big club as Bradford and how much it means to people. It felt like I really took to that.

“Believe it or not, although it was obviously very difficult, I felt it was one of the happiest times that I’ve been playing.

“I could be myself at Bradford and play the way I want. Hopefully that came through to the fans.”

Ball and fellow loanee Lewis O’Brien were the only players to emerge from a car-crash of a campaign with any credit. He is chuffed to see O’Brien, the youngster he tutored during that time, now making his mark in Huddersfield’s team in the Championship.

“Lewis and I are really good friends,” added Ball. “He came to my wedding and we keep in touch.

“I was the older head in the team and tried to help. I used to tell him that we had to give everything we could within the team.

“As much as we’re a team, we can only do what we can in our positions. Everybody has got to do their bit and I think Lewis and I did that.

“I genuinely really loved it at Bradford despite how it worked out and I’ve still looked out for them all season.

“We’re obviously a day in front in New Zealand but I always get up the next morning to check the results and really hope that they get back to where they deserve to be.”

Ball is currently enjoying life at the right end of the table – or he hopes to be when the Australian game intends to start up again despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Phoenix are currently third behind leaders Sydney and Melbourne and on course for their best-ever season.

There is a strong English spine. Ball’s team is captained by former Newcastle defender Steven Taylor and he plays up front with ex-Sheffield Wednesday striker Gary Hooper.

They are firmly on course for the play-offs, which feature the top six, and a possible first appearance in the Grand Final.

Wellington were obviously keen to keep the season going, even if it means cramming in the rest of the schedule at empty stadiums in Sydney.

Ball added: “It’s obviously tough but we’ve had a really good season so we wanted to finish it as well as we could.

“If the league is going on, then we want to be part of it.

“We’ve been trying to make the most of the situation. We’ve got a really good group of lads who have been playing well.

“As a footballer, it’s going to be strange playing behind closed doors especially if you score and celebrate with nobody there.

“I think fourth is the highest the club have finished in the actual season and they haven’t got to the Grand Final yet.

“But we feel this team is certainly capable of doing well if we get in there.

“Fans obviously make the game. Wherever I’ve been, the fans have been everything really.

“But you’ve got to realise that it still means three points, it’s not a friendly.

“We’ve got the chance to do something special in terms of the club’s history so it would be nice if we could achieve that.”