THIERRY Henry’s flick-up and volley remains vividly etched on my brain as does the date, Sunday, October 1, 2000.

It was the first game I watched as a Bradford resident, hidden in the corner of the Rosse in Saltaire.

Billy no mates, miles from home, making a pint last as Arsenal’s mercurial Frenchman smacked the goal of the season against Manchester United on TV.

The following morning, I took up a new role at the Telegraph & Argus, while crashing on a mate’s floor in a one-bedroom Titus Salt worker’s cottage minus central heating.

My family remained over 250 miles away on the south coast – catch-ups involved bombing back on a Saturday night after completing my City match report. Middlesbrough to Bradford, working in the office, and then setting off south around 11pm was the jet-set lifestyle of the day.

Today marks 20 years with the paper – a personal milestone I am honoured to reach.

The journeys home take half an hour; everyone is long settled “up north”. City are three divisions lower than when I started – the past couple of decades have not flashed by without incident.

Sports reporting has moved on from hamstring injuries and “we woz robbed” soundbites; these days you need to be financial experts and doctors in virology.

And obviously never put a foot wrong or Twitter will come down on you like a ton of bricks.

It feels like you are married to the job – and as with any long-term relationship, it has been full of ups and downs. The good, the bad and ugly.

There have been incredible highs: that moment frozen in time when James Hanson’s header at a snowy Villa Park booked City’s place in the Capital One Cup final; the comeback of all comebacks at Stamford Bridge and being submerged in a sweaty hug from Andy Halliday; sitting ringside to see Junior Witter crowned Bradford's first boxing world champion.

The bads: four relegations, two administrations; the fears that 2002 and 2004 could be the end of the club; the way Edin Rahic single-handedly ripped apart all the good work to dump City back where they started.

The uglys: being forced to stop for half a dozen “comfort” breaks with a stomach upset on a Bank Holiday trip to Gillingham; throwing up out the window on the way back from Lincoln with a high temperature; breaking down outside Yeovil; failing to get an internet signal from start to finish at Colchester.

Harrogate’s historic first visit to Valley Parade a week on Monday will mark my 1,000th City game for the T&A (not counting friendlies) – a run that began with a 2-0 defeat against Manchester City at a long-gone Maine Road.

I had to wait three weeks to report on a Bantams goal but it was worth it - Stan Collymore’s sensational overhead against Leeds.

I’ve lost count of the number of players, managers and chairmen interviewed since but some will always stick out.

Dean Windass once threatened to never speak to me again after a fall-out over a back page. A week later he strolled into a full press room to apologise – a few years on I was ghost-writing his autobiography.

Beni Carbone took five months to pin down for a first chat on the record. It became a pantomime joke every week at training, I’d ask the question, he’d pretend to pause and then decline with a smile.

Then when he did finally agree, a certain freelance journalist earwigged the conversation and stuck it out first. Yes, “pal”, I’ve never forgotten your name …

Peter Taylor would keep you on your toes; he would not suffer fools or easy “knock-up” opening questions. But press the right buttons and he delivered far more interesting copy than most of his team's performances.

Jamie Lawrence remains a go-to figure to this day – and those “quiet” nights out in Ireland were always the highlight of the pre-season tour.

And then there was Geoffrey Richmond. A reporter’s dream – or nightmare – depending on the mood.

There was always that sense of dread when the office phone rang before 7.30am.

“Simon”, pause, “it’s Geoffrey”, pause, “there’s something I’m not happy about” …

But every quote was a gold nugget; inevitably delivered as if on the stage by one of football’s larger-than-life characters.

Richmond was gone just a couple of years into my T&A life but one City constant remains.

He was captain of the team that I first got to know during the Premier League demise in 2000; he has been manager three times since.

Other football reporters up and down the country often remark about how lucky I am to deal with such a decent gaffer. But we’ve known each other on and off longer than Reece Staunton has been alive.

When Stuart McCall first took the Valley Parade helm in 2007, we’d sat in his office for over an hour doing an in-depth piece.

Imagine my horror, then, when I sat down to transcribe it all – only to discover that the Dictaphone had packed up.

A quick, embarrassed call followed and half an hour later I was back in with McCall to go through it all again. I can count on one finger how many managers would have agreed to that!

So, I’ll raise a bottle to 20 years and a privilege I will never take for granted. Here’s to plenty more.