7th May 2000
On the final day of the season, City travelled the short distance to Ewood Park and a match against Blackburn Rovers. The blues were in second place in Division One, with Charlton Athletic already crowned champions and it was straight race between City and Ipswich for the runners up spot and an automatic place in the top flight. City need a solitary point at Ewood Park, having a superior goa difference to the Tractor Boys, but any slip would most likely be capitalised on as Town faced relegation-threatened Walsall at Portman Road.
City had gained promotion from Division Two a year earlier and had surprised everyone by going for promotion again, but Joe Royle’s side had been remarkable for most of the season and luck the rest of it. City had narrowly beaten Birmingham 1-0 in their final home match of the season and were now just 90 minutes away from ending their four year exile from the Premier League
City’s record at Ewood Park wasn’t exactly brilliant, with just three wins and 21 defeats at Blackburn in 24 matches, a run stretching back to 1931, so it was safe to say that City fans were not just hoping for a result, more like praying. Blues fans filled the away end as well as huge areas of the home stands, and those that couldn’t get into the ground stood on the hill overlooking the stadium in nervous anticipation.
And those fans were in for a wretched first half which saw City’s promotion hopes hanging in the balance. Blackburn dominated a first half where they hit the post twice and scored one goal in the 42nd minute, a fine left foot volley by Jansen giving the home side no more than they deserved. It was alright though as Ipswich were 0-0 with Walsall and as long as it stayed like that, City were up regardless.
Word must have got through to the home dressing room at Portman Road as within four minutes of the restart, David Johnson had given Ipswich the lead. It was now or never for City, who watch as Blackburn hit the woodwork twice more before the blues finally got into action. And when they did, there was no stopping them.
On 60 minutes, Mark Kennedy’s perfect cross was met at the far post where Shaun Goater was unmarked and he sidefooted home to send the travelling supporters wild. Promotion was back on the cards.
Seven minutes later, blues fans were dreaming of the Premier League when Christian Dailly headed past his own keeper and chased fruitlessly after the ball, before it rolled into the net to give City the lead. For all Blackburn’s dominance, it was City who were in front. And there was more to come.
A cross from the right eluded everyone except the onrushing Kennedy, and the winger made no mistake from the edge of the six-yard box to make it 3-1. The winger raced down the touchline and embraced the now jubilant Royle, who was on the verge of securing back-to-back promotions for the club.
Then just five minutes later Paul Dickov, the hero from 12 months earlier, put the icing on the cake as he ran onto a through ball to finish into the bottom corner to make sure of the three points and City were back in the big time.
It was a harsh result on Blackburn and Ipswich, who had beaten Walsall 2-0, but no one gave them a second thought as the fans flocked onto the pitch to celebrate. After four years, two relegations and two promotions the fans sang loud:
City are back!
Relive the moment here