IT HAS finally happened, after weeks of speculation. City have signed Richie Smallwood.

There is no doubt this was a real coup for the Bantams. The holding midfielder captained Hull in over 40 of their Championship games last season and was being courted by sides across the EFL, in higher divisions than League Two as well.

While the future of young City midfielder Elliot Watt remains up in the air, Mark Hughes has signed a proven warrior to add some steel in the centre of the park regardless.

With Paudie O'Connor having departed for Lincoln, it seems almost nailed on that Smallwood will become the club's new captain.

And this is not some fly-by visit either. Smallwood has shown his commitment by signing a two-year deal, with the chance to extend that by another 12 months again.

That means he could be nearly 35 by the time his contract ends, meaning he is willing to give the Bantams those final peak years of his career.

The Redcar man joins a happy camp of North-Easterners too, with Andy Cook, Alex Gilliead and Harry Chapman all from the region too.

Back to the football though, and as someone who has played nearly 250 Championship games in his career, and over 100 in League One, City have someone in their ranks who has been there and done it a higher level.

He will surely flourish down in the fourth tier, and if he can lead the Bantams to promotion, he has plenty of experience and knows what it takes to succeed in League One, having been a key figure in Hull's ascension back to the Championship in 2020/21.

City were guilty of being a little soft-centred in games at times last season, but the bite Smallwood offers means Mark Hughes will hope that is far less of a problem in this campaign.

Talking about signing him, Hughes said: “As a footballer, he has the ability to control games from midfield, and is someone who will give you nothing less than 100 per cent every time he steps on to the grass.”

With that in mind, some Bantams fans are already hoping they have signed a Gary Jones figure.

Jones is comfortably one of City's most popular players in the last 20 years, a hugely influential player in their League Two promotion-winning and League Cup final-reaching side of 2012/13.

If Smallwood can have anything like that sort of impact, he is going to please a lot of City fans over the next few years.