In part three of the Richmond Years, we look back on the wonder of Waddle and City’s international brigade.

BRITAIN rocked to the strains of “Things Can Only Get Better” on election night in May 1997.

But in BD8, the big winner wasn’t Tony Blair, but Bradford City on their way to earning the Division One survival vote.

Narrow victory that night in a rearranged game against Charlton, followed with a more emphatic one over QPR on the final day, ensured there was no need for a re-count, as Chris Kamara’s Bantams stayed up.

It was a breathless end to an eventful campaign that had featured 42 different players of all nationalities – and one particularly special Englishman who delivered one particularly special goal.

Marco Sas, Edinho, Sergio Pinto, Erik Regtop, Robert Steiner, Ole Bjorn Sundgot, Magnus Pehrsson – they were among the roll call of exotic names on the City team sheet on the club’s return to the second tier.

Despite winning promotion, Geoffrey Richmond warned Kamara that money would be tight because of the amount swallowed up by the new Midland Road stand, which would open for business for Sheffield United’s visit on Boxing Day.

Recruitment had to be creative – with the City boss targeting the overseas market for “Bosman” free transfers. Richmond warned in a fans’ forum that beating the drop would be regarded as a successful season.

But there was still huge excitement for the opening game and the visit of Terry Venables, who two months earlier had led England to the Euro 96 semi-finals.

Now he was chairman at Portsmouth – and City came from a goal down to make it a winning start.

Reality then kicked in with six defeats in the next seven games. The Bantams dropped into the bottom four, where they would remain all season.

There was only one win, against Swindon, between the end of August and the end of November. By Christmas, the mini-league of four teams had been established – with just one survival place.

But the fans appreciated the struggle and stuck by Kamara’s men. Their loyalty was rewarded with an unforgettable afternoon at Goodison Park.

City put their league worries behind them to steal the FA Cup fourth round headlines against Everton.

The short-term signing of former England winger Chris Waddle proved inspired. A true legend in the ranks, he still had all the skills despite approaching the tail end of a magnificent career.

And on Merseyside, he provided the iconic “I was there” goal for the fortunate travelling supporters, lobbing Neville Southall from 40 yards as City clinched a 3-2 victory that Richmond described as “impossible” given their form.

Goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer proved to be a more lucrative – if even briefer – capture, after shining in a reserve game at Valley Parade for Man City's reserves.

City contacted his club, Kaiserslautern, and negotiated a deal worth around £80,000. After 14 games, the Australian was on his way again, to Middlesbrough for £1.4 million!

With gate receipts above expectations, Richmond sanctioned a club record £550,000 move for Southampton striker Gordon Watson, who settled instantly with a long-range goal against Port Vale.

Then came the big one, the derby with Huddersfield at Valley Parade.

The visitors scored after one minute – after four, all hell broke loose.

Tempers were flaring after an incident involving Watson and former Bantam Paul Reid. Then, Kevin Gray went in on the City forward.

Watson suffered a double fracture of the right leg, the eventual 1-1 draw rendered meaningless by that tackle. Before the game was over, he had undergone the first of many operations.

City scrutinised the video of the incident with the lawyers and took the case to court. Watson would eventually be awarded nearly £1 million in damages.

Richmond feared the impact of Watson’s serious injury on the team’s safety hopes. But they had a game in hand.

Charlton should have come to Valley Parade in January, but that was delayed by the FA Cup, and City plotted and planned to hold the rearranged fixture back.

Even the Queen came into it, with her visit to officially open the new stand in March causing a further delay.

So, when it eventually did take place, the Charlton game became the first in the country to be played under a Labour government since 1979.

City, in a two-way battle with Grimsby for survival, simply had to win. Keeper Aiden Davison had an inspired night, Charlton fluffed their chances, and the hosts scrambled home 1-0.

It was now in City’s hands. Beat QPR and they were staying up, regardless of how Grimsby fared against Southend.

Sky Sports were at Valley Parade to cover it live, and the action didn’t disappoint.

City were 3-0 up by the 52nd minute and their spot in the division was guaranteed. Nigel Pepper scored twice, including an absolute screamer of a free-kick, and fans had another reason to celebrate.