In the final part of the Richmond Years, it is the end of the road after an eight-and-a-half year rollercoaster as Bradford City chairman.

WHEN City kicked off the 2002-2003 season against Wolves at Valley Parade, there was one notable absentee.

The crowd of 13,223, relieved to still have a club to support after all the summer’s machinations, was missing a certain Geoffrey Richmond.

The chairman of eight years had walked away – a necessary move in sealing the deal between the Rhodes family and Gordon Gibb and persuading the Football League to allow the team to carry on.

Richmond had viewed a three-way ownership when he brought Gibb to the table. But it was made clear to him that his continued presence would be a stumbling block.

Five days before the first ball of the season was due to be kicked, Richmond was leaving his office at Valley Parade for the final time.

“It felt very strange and there were many quiet tears shed,” he said later. “It hadn’t really sunk in what was happening.”

Richmond confessed to many sleepless nights during those three months when the club’s very being hovered on a knife edge.

Publicly, he wore a confident mask fully believing that City would pull through. He feared that making any nightmarish noises would almost make it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

To say that the club’s fight for survival went right to the wire was an understatement. It went beyond that.

The Football League had set a 4pm deadline on the Friday, less than 48 hours before City’s season-opener. But two hours after that, there was still no sign of the all-clear.

“That was the lowest point of the summer,” Richmond confessed to the T&A. “When the deadline had gone, we all seriously started to think there was going to be no Bradford City.

“There were issues still to be sorted and we believed that it was all over. We were a breath away from extinction."

The Football League had imposed two conditions when the parties met three days earlier.

One was there should be an agreement between Gibb and the Rhodes family, which was not a problem.

But the second part involved a deal being done between the club and the Professional Footballers’ Association.

The league required a letter from the PFA confirming that all football debts – the players – had been paid in full.

More brinksmanship followed before the league eventually granted City their share back, even though there remained issues to be ironed out. It would be late August before the documentation with the PFA was completed.

But City were playing again and battling their way to a commendable goalless draw against a fancied Wolves side. Richmond, though, was confined to barracks and listening from afar on the radio.

Listening religiously to the match commentary would become the new weekly ritual. But it was not the same as being sat in the directors' box surveying his kingdom.

Richmond’s initial reaction was one of pure exhaustion.

Someone who had come from the Margaret Thatcher school of sleeping, four or five hours top and then up early for work, took to his bed for up to half the day in the immediate weeks that followed.

The stress and strain had left him with absolutely nothing in the tank.

“I felt like a marathon runner who had hit the wall,” he later revealed in an unpublished interview. “The 26 miles had been fine but after taking the stride over the finishing line I collapsed in a heap.

“It had been three months of sheer hell and I never want to live through another time like it. I couldn’t have kept my sanity for much longer.

“Inside I was churning and I didn’t look too well at times but I was conscious of the necessity to appear to be in control of the situation. I had to keep a cool, calm head.”

The only matches he would attend that season were at Bramall Lane as a guest of Sheffield United boss Neil Warnock, his manager at Scarborough – and the one Richmond admitted he regretted not being “brave enough” to bring to the Bantams.

A reign that had begun in January 1994 with a 1-1 draw at York, before that famous “we’ll be in the Premiership” rally call at his Valley Parade bow against Hartlepool, was over after 527 games.

Wembley, two promotions, Premier League survival, spending madness, relegation, administration.

It had been some ride but the Richmond rollercoaster had finally come to a halt.