IT IS a quarter of a century since the Queen visited Valley Parade.

As the country celebrates Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee, we recall the day in March 1997 when she officially opened the new Midland Road stand.

It was the monarch’s first appearance in Bradford for 23 years and marked the centenary of the royal charter as a city.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh gave out Maundy Money at Bradford Cathedral before walking the short distance to pay their respects at the fire memorial in Centenary Square.

They were then driven to Valley Parade to open the new £1.5 million Allied Colloids Stand along the Midland Road side of the ground.

The 4,500-seater cantilever stand replaced the former cow shed that had stood there previously as part of Geoffrey Richmond’s growing ambition in charge of the club.

Richmond joined the Queen in walking down to the pitch where she was introduced to City legends Stuart McCall and Bobby Campbell as well as World Cup winner, Sir Bobby Charlton.

The rebuilt stand had first been used for a Yorkshire derby against Sheffield United on Boxing Day but this was its official unveiling three months later.

It was a stand fit for a team that had won promotion to the second tier in the club’s first ever trip to Wembley the previous May.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The Queen officially opens the new Allied Colloids Stand The Queen officially opens the new Allied Colloids Stand

But City were facing a scrap to ensure their stay was not limited to just the one season.

On the day of the Queen’s visit, Chris Kamara’s side sat fourth from bottom and just two points above the relegation dotted line.

They had won nine out of 38 games – but that was no big surprise given that Kamara had been forced to cobble together a squad on the cheap because of the cost of the new stand.

“There is not a penny piece for players” was the warning from Richmond as all the money had been taken up by the Midland Road revamp.

Kamara, therefore, was forced to get creative and used the Bosman ruling to attract players from abroad. A cast list of 42 plucked from various countries would be involved.

By the time the season reached its final week, City’s position looked critical.

Now in the drop zone, they were a point behind Grimsby – but crucially with a game in hand.

Again, the Queen’s arrival had played a part in Richmond’s scheme to keep pushing back a home clash with Charlton that had originally been scheduled for January.

So, on Tony Blair’s winning election night, the fans ignored the polls for the Parade to witness a contest that was far less clearcut.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Nigel Pepper unloads the lethal strike that guaranteed City were staying upNigel Pepper unloads the lethal strike that guaranteed City were staying up

Kamara had described Nigel Pepper as “an absolute steal” when he was allowed to spend £100,000 on the York stalwart at the end of February.

The midfielder played in all but two of the remaining games and popped up with big goals in wins over Wolves and Stoke.

But it was his impact in the final four days of the season that would ensure his place as a modern-day cult hero with Valley Parade fans.

With Aidan Davison producing heroics in the City goal to keep Charlton at bay, Pepper produced a superb header to clinch a priceless 1-0 win.

City were out of the bottom three going into the final day. Better Grimsby’s result against Southend and safety was secured.

Pepper recalled: “"The club took us away to a hotel before the Charlton game so everything was prepared properly and we could all focus on what we had to do.

"We had big characters like Chris Kamara and Paul Jewell who really got us motivated and kept the morale up. The atmosphere in the dressing room was fantastic.

"That is so important when you are at the bottom. The last thing you want is people sniping and pointing fingers.

"I never thought we deserved to be relegated because the football we played was really good. I honestly felt we were in a false position.”

Pepper settled the nerves with the opening goal midway through the first half.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Chris Kamara and the City bench celebrate with Tommy Wright after the second goalChris Kamara and the City bench celebrate with Tommy Wright after the second goal

Tommy Wright, whose recall on the Thursday night had made such a difference, added another and the stadium was in party mood at the break.

Then came the show-stopper seven minutes into the second half.

QPR defender Danny Maddix was punished for obstructing Mike Newell in the corner of the box. Wright touched the indirect free-kick to Pepper – and the next thing the ball was almost ripping the net out in front of the Kop.

Keeper Tony Roberts never blinked as this rocket flew past him into the top corner. City were staying up and in some style.

“I remember the fans more than the goals,” said Pepper, “because they were so good for us and cheered like nothing I'd ever seen.

"The noise and the backing we got was such a huge source of motivation for the players.

"In that type of situation when you're fighting like that, a lot of points can be down to the fans.”