City 1, Crewe Alexandra 5

The player born closest to Valley Parade ensured City’s potential swansong at their home became a humiliating one.

Clayton Donaldson grew up in Manningham and dreamed of wearing a claret and amber jersey.

His boyhood dreams were shattered when the club showed him the door at 16. Only Lewis Emanuel, from his age group, made the grade.

Instead, Donaldson drifted elsewhere to forge a career with Hull, York and, for now, Dario Gradi’s Crewe.

On Saturday, he finally got the chance to show the Bantams what they had let slip through the net. Around 30 family and friends were among the crowd to see Donaldson lead the Crewe carnage on his first appearance at the ground.

His goal, a vicious shot on the turn, was his 28th of the season and clinched the division’s Golden Boot. His prolific partnership with Shaun Miller, who claimed a double of his own, has been worth 47 goals – four more than City have managed in total.

Now out of contract, the former Manningham Middle School and Rhodesway pupil will be much in demand this summer. How City would love to be in a position to bring him ‘home’.

It is hard to see that happening but Donaldson, whose younger brother was one of the mascots, has plenty of sympathy for his local side.

He said: “I was a City fan and used to come to games in the Premier League days. One of my dreams was to play at Valley Parade but this is the first time I’ve been back.

“I always look out for Bradford’s results and they’ve had a torrid time. Look where they’ve finished in the league.

“You hear that they might be moving to Odsal, which wouldn’t be a good move if that’s the case.

“But it’s the financial strains. They’ve taken a toll with plenty of teams, including some in the higher divisions as we’ve seen with Portsmouth and Plymouth.

“You don’t want to be in that situation and hopefully Bradford will pull through that. Hopefully they can dust themselves down again.”

Donaldson and his pals were handed the freedom of Valley Parade on an afternoon when City plunged to new depths. Just when the fans thought they had seen it all over nine months of misery, they were subjected to the farewell from hell.

Crewe had not got a point on their travels since January 3. After a run of 11 straight away losses, they reached a stage of being beaten as soon as they get on the bus.

But it’s a different story in front of goal where nobody does it better in League Two. Only Peterborough, in the whole country, can top Crewe’s tally of 87. Give them a yard and they’ll punish you. Make it a mile and humiliation is on the cards.

Like true Gradi disciples, Crewe love to get the ball down and pass – and how they passed City into oblivion.

The Bantams could not have made it any easier, sitting far too deep and inviting Alex on to them. Danny Shelley, the game’s outstanding player, roamed free behind the strikers and exploited the space to drag opponents here, there and everywhere.

City, true to form, had a major hand in their own downfall.

Crewe’s first goal came from a mistake by David Syers, who has tended to make far fewer than any of those around him. But he undercooked a backpass to Luke Oliver and then turned away as the big man lost out to a fortuitous bounce as he challenged Miller.

The ball popped up kindly for the Crewe hitman, who had the presence of mind to flick it over the stranded Jon McLaughlin before converting.

It was not the start McLaughlin had envisaged in his first start since the Southend debacle – but City quickly bounced back into it.

Jake Speight forced a save from Rhys Taylor and James Hanson smacked the post with the rebound, Shelley back-tracking to deny him a free shot with the loose ball.

But then Syers played Speight in on goal, David Artell clipped his shooting foot and City’s new penalty taker slammed in another confident spot-kick.

It was a wide-open, typically Crewe contest. With half an hour gone, nobody could have imagined the horror that was about to unfold.

Rookie winger Dominic Rowe, making his first start, won a corner with a testing drive that Taylor turned behind. But Crewe’s counter-attack from the City set-piece would have graced any top-flight stage.

Mat Mitchell-King won possession and swept the ball wide for Byron Moore to exploit the huge space along the right wing. His cross was precise and so was Miller’s finish.

Within two minutes, Crewe had struck again as a loose clearance ricocheted to Miller. He teed up Donaldson and the individual scoring prize was heading in his direction.

McLaughlin denied Donaldson another after Lewis Hunt was beaten far too easily, before the keeper suffered his own nightmare, allowing Shelley’s speculative drive to dribble through his grasp for the fourth.

Omar Daley, still feeling last week’s knock on the ankle, disappeared at half-time. Is that the last City will see of him?

Hanson, too, was sacrificed. Gradi assumed it had to be an injury but Peter Jackson admitted the negative move was purely out of damage limitation. Debutant Alex Flett was added to a five-man midfield attempting to suffocate the supply to Crewe’s rampaging front men.

But little changed and Crewe got their fifth midway through the second half. Jon Worthington clearly handled as he tried to block Matt Tootle’s shot but Shelley ignored the appeals going on round him to fire in the rebound.

Gallows humour had taken over the stands, where any successful City pass was greeted with an ironic shout of “ole”. A rare shot from substitute Luke O’Brien earned an even bigger cheer.

The final whistle could not come soon enough and referee Graham Salisbury put the fans out of their misery a couple of minutes earlier than planned.

Still, about 3,000 of those supporters remained behind to acknowledge the players who have let them down so hopelessly. It was a show of dedication the team – officially the worst in City colours since 1966 – had not remotely earned.

Now those fans are banking on the board to come up with the answers to so many questions. Director Roger Owen’s trenchant programme notes said it is time “to stop kidding ourselves that we are a big club”.

When you have just finished seventh-from-bottom of the bottom division – or 85th out of 92 league teams – that should not be too hard.

Attendance: 11,030