MENTION the name Paul Simpson together with the final day of the season and City fans of a certain age will shiver.

That goal; that free-kick; that inside of the post.

Molineux 1999 – and with it, the Premier League adventure - might never have happened if Simpson’s telescopic sights had moved a couple of inches to the right.

The image of Robbie Blake and Peter Beagrie clinging to each other for dear life on the City bench as Simpson’s late set-piece for Wolves pinged back off the woodwork is as ingrained in club memories as the scenes of delirium that would follow.

Twenty-three years later, Simpson was facing the Bantams once more on the campaign’s last afternoon as Carlisle manager.

The stakes – and the level – could not have been further removed; two lower-half teams playing out the dregs of a League Two season that has fallen well below expectations.

And yet there was a crackle in the air, an edge of something, a sense of energy and excitement at what might lay ahead.

It might have been another in the long run of “dead rubbers” in the season finale but it really felt that City’s first winning send-off for six years meant something.

The crowd of 18,283 was an extraordinary figure for teams kicking off their final game in 14th and 18th in the bottom division.

It beat Valley Parade’s previous best at this level set in 1964 in a season where City just dipped out on promotion.

This time they have finished nowhere near – but you wouldn’t have known it judging by the noise with which the fans cheered them into the summer break.

Many of those players won’t be back; some will be missed, but few tears will be shed with most. The annual clear-out is ready to commence.

But those supporters will be back come the end of July; turning out in numbers once more with the belief that next season will finally be THE season.

Mark Hughes clearly thinks so. Why else would he be here otherwise?

And the way he was loudly saluted by the crowd in the post-match lap of “appreciation” demonstrated the faith that they have in the Welshman to deliver.

It has been a case of love at first sight with Hughes for a fanbase turned off by the cold demeanour of predecessor Derek Adams.

How refreshing it is, too, to see that warmth of feeling reciprocated by the manager. Hughes is keen to acknowledge the backing that he is enjoying – a marked contrast to the lack of response that the stands would get from Adams.

Hughes clearly wants to develop that relationship and feed off it and he wants his players to do the same. They will have noticed the marked difference in atmosphere since the change at the top.

Playing at home seems like fun again as it should be in front of such an audience.

“I’m a little bit disappointed the season’s ended, if I’m honest,” said a delighted boss, when he emerged from a post-match celebration beer.

“But the reality is the lads have had a hell of a season.

“It does sap your energy, not just the players but the support staff as well. They all need a break.

“They need to come back refreshed, which they will, and we’ll be ready again.”

Who will be back is the big question on everyone’s lips.

The retained list is expected to officially appear in the coming days but the players in question know.

Having announced Lee Angol’s new deal, chief executive Ryan Sparks confirmed in his programme notes that offers have been made to others they want to keep.

Charles Vernam is a man in demand with indications that he could be eyeing a League One move. Lincoln are rumoured to be heading that list.

Elliot Watt, too, will be hard to tie down although the club would at least pocket some compensation if he left because of his age.

But there are slightly more optimistic noises about Jamie Walker, one that Hughes has openly targeted.

“Sign him up” and “Jamie Walker, we want you to stay” boomed from the Kop and North West Corner when the Scot departed a personally very satisfactory afternoon to a standing ovation.

He left with another goal under his belt, scoring for the third successive home game, and another strong case for the Bantams to pull out the stops to convince him to make the move south of the border permanent.

Financially, as Hughes has already admitted, City could not compete with what Walker was understood to be on at Hearts.

But the lure of Valley Parade, of Hughes, of that adulation from the division’s dominant fanbase … all could be factored into a negotiation that is not always down to who can pay the most.

Hughes won’t beg with any player. If they don’t want to come, then fine, move on.

He does not anticipate being short of takers in the great rebuild. The next few months promise to be fascinating watching his team take shape.

In the short term, it was important that the present side turned up properly one final time to ensure an under-par campaign ended with the positive of three straight wins.

That has not happened since the season’s first month when everyone was dreaming high.

The significance of the last home game had been drummed home beforehand. Hughes and his players knew how much the occasion meant as the 37th anniversary of the horrors of May 11, 1985 approaches.

So how disgraceful it was to hear some idiot in the Carlisle away section break the silence by shouting and attract a small number of others to do the same.

What gets in the heads of these people to be that selfish? Can they not respect 60 seconds without being a moron?

Carlisle, to their credit, quickly tweeted an apology. This was not on them but the shameless individuals concerned.

Possibly fuelled by the indignation of the rest of the ground, City were in the mood from the start of a feisty encounter.

Angol had jokingly predicted a hat-trick to mark his new contract.

He had to settle for just one on 13 minutes but it broke a long wait – most of it recovering from injury on the sidelines – with his first goal since New Year’s Day.

Vernam claimed probably his last assist in a City shirt, providing the shot that Angol diverted past keeper Mark Howard after good work to keep the ball in play by Dion Pereira.

Walker twice could have increased the lead with both chances coming from Luke Hendrie’s crosses. Pereira then kicked at fresh air when Elliot Watt set him up from a corner routine clearly honed on the training ground.

Carlisle offered little back – there was no smirking this time from Jordan Gibson and Omari Patrick, who predictably got both barrels throughout.

But Simpson was adamant they should have had a penalty for Hendrie’s collision with Kristian Dennis.

Ref James Bell rejected that and play switched straight to the other end where Pereira played in Walker to settle matters.

Not all has been well by a long shot but it's ended well. The next instalment, let's hope, turns out very different.