May 1996: CITY 2 (Hamilton 8, Stallard 75) NOTTS COUNTY 0

IT HAD taken City 93 years to play at Wembley – but their belated debut at the home of football proved well worth the wait.

Nearly a quarter of a century has passed since the Bantams first graced the national stadium for the Second Division play-off final against Notts County.

Chris Kamara’s side had arrived there against all the odds, scrambling into the top six with a win at Hull on the final day of the season and then overhauling a two-goal deficit with that unforgettable 3-0 triumph at Blackpool.

But that just generated the feeling that promotion was written in the stars and the Wembley script duly obliged.

City got off to the perfect start with a goal after only eight minutes – and what a moment for local lad Des Hamilton.

Richard Huxford’s long ball was headed into his path by Carl Shutt but the teenage midfielder still had it all to do outside the Notts County box.

Three defenders barred his way to goal but despite stumbling as he weaved through, Hamilton found the power to fire past keeper Darren Ward and in off the crossbar.

City had struck from the first shot of the afternoon to send their raucous support, who outnumbered the Notts County fans by nearly three to one, into raptures.

Steve Finnan forced Bantams keeper Jonathan Gould into a routine save before Kamara’s side had further chances through Shutt and Eddie Youds.

They could have gone in 2-0 up at the break after good work from Andy Kiwomya set up Shutt. But the striker’s weak effort hit Ward’s ankles.

Notts County had found no answer to City’s width and pace in a one-sided opening 45 minutes.

But Colin Murphy’s men looked to rally when the second half began.

Gary Martindale headed wide and Tony Agana and Ian Richardson both had shots blocked during a scramble.

Then Gould tipped over a shot from Tony Battersby as City endured a 20-minute spell of pressure.

Mark Stallard did break out with one promising opportunity after a slip from Gary Strodder but his attempt was denied by Ward.

But the frontman got his reward with 15 minutes left to seal City’s promotion.

Ian Ormondroyd had come on for the injured Hamilton and immediately made his lofty presence felt when he flicked on Huxford’s long ball.

It was the first touch for Ormondroyd, playing in his fourth play-off final after three with Leicester, and a hugely-influential one.

His header directed the ball into the box where Stallard was lurking to volley home. City were nearly there.

Notts County’s response became more frantic and Martindale fired wide after a pass from Agana. Then Steve Finnan’s long-range shot was deflected for a corner.

Ian Richardson fired over the bar from the resulting set-piece before the City celebrations could begin.

Chairman Geoffrey Richmond had reportedly told the players before the game that it was a choice of playing Manchester City or Bury the next season.

City had been relegated from the Premiership while their little Lancashire neighbours had gone up to the third tier.

Apart from that spell after half-time, the Bantams’ promotion destiny had never looked in doubt.

It was extra special for 19-year-old Hamilton who admitted: “To score for my hometown team at Wembley has got to be one of the best feelings ever.

"I never thought while I was out injured that the season could possibly end like this - it is a dream come true."

Hamilton had scored only three times in the league campaign but his Wembley stunner added to one in the semi-final fightback at Bloomfield Road. He had proved a man for the biggest occasion.

The following day, a reception was held outside City Hall where around 20,000 Bradfordians basked in the team’s glory. And then, in true Richmond style, the Bantams played a celebration friendly at Valley Parade against Feyenoord.

Kamara was already promising more to come the following season.

The City boss said: “I'm hungry for second helpings of success and I am absolutely convinced I can get it here.

“We will not look out of place in the First Division because we have so much quality.”

CITY: Gould, Huxford, Mohan, Youds, Jacobs, Hamilton (Ormondroyd 71), Mitchell, Duxbury, Kiwomya (Wright 77), Shutt, Stallard.

NOTTS COUNTY: Ward, Derry, Murphy, Strodder, Baraclough, Finnan, Richardson, Rogers, Agana, Martindale, Battersby (Jones 82).

REFEREE: Gurnam Singh