March 2012: CITY 1 (Dagnall 72) CRAWLEY 2 (Clarke 54, Alexander 76)

THE national spotlight is unlikely to be shining on Valley Parade this weekend whatever the score.

Crawley’s fourth visit to City will not generate much outside attention beyond checking the upper echelons of the League Two table.

It certainly won’t dominate breakfast tv headlines and lead the sports news across the country the following morning – as was the case the first time the Sussex club came to BD8.

Phil Parkinson’s five-year Bantams reign will always be characterised for the history-making campaign that brought two trips to Wembley and the cup journeys that left a lifetime of memories for fans.

More Bantams nostalgia: When City's goal-fest outshone Grand Final

But there was another night in his first season that also went down in folklore, though not for the right reasons.

In the record books, a 2-1 midweek defeat to a high-flying Crawley hardly stands out in a year when Parkinson’s brief was simply to stay in the Football League.

It wasn’t even the biggest story in Bradford on a day when the Bulls launched a desperate public appeal to raise £1 million to stay afloat.

That was until the final whistle – which sparked scenes that would make headlines everywhere with the repercussions rumbling on for weeks.

On a tight Tuesday night deadline, I can recall a frantic conversation with the sports desk to rewrite the match report.

“How much do you want to change?”

“Most of it.”

Valley Parade’s first experience of Steve Evans had been a predictably niggly affair with his Crawley side collecting six of the seven bookings.

But there was no indication that it would suddenly blow up at the moment when the two teams should have been shaking hands.

Instead, they were trying to grab each other’s throats as a spat between Andrew Davies and Crawley sub Claude Davis quickly spiralled out of control.

Suddenly, the centre circle was turned into a WWE-style Royal Rumble as players from both sides went at it with the officials helpless to intervene.

Jon McLaughlin was seen wading in with his glove bag still in one hand; Luke Oliver was waving his shin pads in the melee as bodies converged.

The free-for-all continued unabated for several minutes before order could eventually be restored and the protagonists dragged down the tunnel to the dressing rooms.

Then came a period that Parkinson would describe as “totally surreal”.

As tempers slowly cooled behind closed doors, referee Iain Williamson went in to dish out his own punishment by the book.

Five players were shown post-match red cards, including Davies, Oliver and McLaughlin. Davis and Pablo Mills received the same in the Crawley changing room – while Kyle McFadzean was also later charged and banned.

Parkinson looked like he had seen a ghost when he eventually appeared before the press for a conference that discussed everything that had happened after the final whistle and little before it.

City themselves were dragged in front of the beak at Wembley and fined £9,000 for failing to control their team. Crawley had to pay twice that because it was not their first offence.

Crawley, whose team included a young Hope Akpan, had edged a scrappy contest as the Bantams suffered a fourth defeat in five games.

Leon Clarke had broken the dour deadlock nine minutes into the second half with a free header past McLaughlin.

City levelled in similar fashion as Chris Dagnall headed home Kyel Reid’s free-kick for the only goal of his loan spell from Barnsley.

But a game of headers was settled with 14 minutes left when Gary Alexander converted a hanging cross from Scott Davies.

Evans, who would walk out on Crawley for Rotherham a fortnight later, started a hoodoo with City that still goes on. But nobody remembers the football.

CITY: McLaughlin, Kozluk (Ravenhill 54, Flynn 71), Oliver, A Davies, Fry (Wells 55), Reid, Syers, Bullock, Fagan, Dagnall, Hanson.

CRAWLEY: Kuipers, S Davies, Mills, McFadzean, Howell, Simpson, Torres, Akpan (Cummings 89), Bulman, Alexander (Davis 86), Clarke (Watt 84).

REFEREE: Iain Williamson