Result: York City 1-1 Curzon Ashton (FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round)
Venue: Bootham Crescent (Saturday 15th October 2016, 3pm)
Back on the FA Cup trail after a round away, I found myself perusing the fixture lists once more…OK, that’s a lie because as soon as the draw was made and York City had a home tie, the decision was made. The game was all the more attractive by the fact that the Minstermen were to be hosting Curzon Ashton and by knowing a few guys with connections to the Nash, this meant that a day in the White Rose’s county town (city) was on.
Arriving into York at just after midday I escaped the queues attempting to get through the ticket checks on the doors and followed a hen-do out into the streets. Obviously these sights threw me, as I decided to head in the opposite direction to the one I’d already planned out beforehand, thus meaning a tour of the back streets of York was now a must. Eventually, I arrived at a bridge over the Ouse and arrived at the foot of the medieval Clifford’s Tower, part of the, now fragmented, York Castle.
Eventually, I arrived at the welcoming doors of one of the city’s Wetherspoon outlets, this being the Postern Gate. This is by far the more boring of the pair as it sits below a Travelodge and resembles more of an office than a pub. Nonetheless, I swept inside and quickly drank the resplendent Punk IPA before heading off into the city centre in search of somewhere with a little more character. It couldn’t be too hard to accomplish this mission.
Indeed it wasn’t, as the haunted Golden Fleece became the second drinking spot. There were no ghosts in here today, luckily, but rather more unfortunate was that space was very limited due to the very small drinking room at the front, with the rear and upstairs reserved for those diners. So, having been forced to stand next to the bar and dodge the incoming and outgoing traffic to and from the back, the Fleece probably wasn’t quite as good an experience as it probably ought to have been. Get there early is my tip. The Estrella is pretty decent too.
So, with the Fleece and its ghostly inhabitants survived, I headed into the packed Shambles street and came across a small-ish bar/bottle shop. Ye Olde Shambles Tavern was another where the bar side of things seemed to be something of an afterthought, with the café-part seemingly larger, but the service, as in the Fleece, was of a really professional standard which, I guess, in York is a big plus point with so many bars in competition (I believe over 300). I decided to plump for a pint of the Jorvik Golden Ale, which was a good choice even if I say so myself, though it always sits a little heavy on me, as I’m not a huge ale drinker for the most part.
After watching multiple people pose in the street outside for pictures and the odd one fall off the kerbings before laughing with a tinge of embarrassment, it was time to head back outside and head towards the ground. Now, I knew the Minster was pretty much on the list of places to pass whilst en route and so it was to the cathedral I headed. Unfortunately, as is seeming to creep back into my visits and trips of late, I soon found myself book-ended at the end of the adjoining park and was lost. Surprise, surprise. Unbelievably, I was even asked by a couple if I “knew York” whilst staring in pure confusion at my phone. If I still look like I know what I’m doing when I clearly don’t, I’m fairly happy with that.
Anyway, having set off the wrong way slightly, before finding myself in another garden, I luckily found a pair of security guards strolling through the grounds of a ruined abbey. The pair seemed to keep abreast of the club somewhat, referencing their draw last week, before giving me some, easy to remember, directions as it turned out I was about 5 minutes away and the ground was basically around the corner. Bloody tourists, eh?
Following the guards instructions, I found myself at the foot of Bootham Crescent itself, before following the “crowd” down to the end of the road where the ground sprang upon me somewhat. After purchasing a programme early from the sellers at the main gate (just in case), I decided I could really do with visiting the pub across the way and with a large Curzon contingent hanging around outside, I figured I may just find some familiar faces inside. This turned out to be the case as I greeted Aaron, one of Curzon’s media extraordinaires, manager John’s son and verified twitter user. “Of course” was my answer to Aaron’s question of whether I’d be in the away end for this game, before having just a half of Carlsberg to accompany me through to the kick-off time, as I must be getting a little more safe in my age.
With the time to head for the turnstiles now upon us, the bar emptied and all and sundry headed out toward the away end. This, in turn, meant there was a queue outside which a few of the Curzon contingent found quite amusing. Eventually, it was my turn to hand over the cut-price £12 and I was into Bootham Crescent, the ground this time, as it was added to my list of visited ‘not-long-for-this-world’ grounds. After greeting Craig, Gibbo & Rob upon arrival, I took up a place within the crowds with my awarded, but slightly damaged, FA Cup on standby.
Bootham Crescent is a ground that really does show its age, both in a good and bad way. The facilities are a bit outdated, with the club even feeling the need to cover the food hut in a protective metal screen. The two touchlines are home to the seating stands, with the Main Stand located on the right-hand side from the away end and this affords raised views over the pitch. Opposite is an older, smaller seating stand, which doesn’t give too much in the way of a raised view. Both ends of the ground feature terracing, with the home end covered, but the away end left open to the elements, though a fair clump of the smaller seating stand was also available to the travelling support. Of course, with the weather being good, this option wasn’t taken by many with the (half) terrace nicely full. With kick-off imminent, let’s get into the history of the Minstermen, York City F.C.
York City Football Club was first founded in 1908 with the original club playing in the Northern League and Yorkshire Combination before turning pro in 1914 and joining the Midland League prior to folding in 1917. Reformed in 1922, playing at Fulfordgate, York City competed in the Midland League for another seven season spell, before being elected to the Football League’s Third Division North at the expense of Ashington.
The Minstermen won their first league match, against Wigan Borough, then competed in the third tier of the League all the way through until 1959, when York achieved their first promotion. The club moved into Bootham Crescent in 1932, following the vacation of the ground by York CC. They reached the 6th Round of the FA Cup in 1938, before playing in the wartime competitions through the hostilities, winning the Combined Counties Cup whilst doing so.
Following the end of WWII, York were forced to apply for re-election in 1950 after finishing bottom of the Third Division North, but followed up just three seasons later with their best finish to that date, 4th. 1955 saw the club reach the FA Cup semi-final, losing out to Newcastle United in a replay played at Roker Park. In doing so, York became the first third-tier side to play a semi-final replay, though “relegation” was forced upon York in 1958 as the restructuring of the league meant their 13th placed finish caused York to drop to the new Division 4.
After finishing 3rd the next season, York were immediately promoted, though followed this with an immediate return to the bottom Division. The 1962 League Cup saw the club achieve their best run, reaching the 5th Round, where they bowed out to Rochdale. 1964, though, saw a second re-election needed to secure the club’s place in the Football League, but followed this with promotion the next year, following another 3rd place. This was the last success for a while, though, as York were relegated the next year and needed re-election for the following three consecutive years.
After another promotion in 1971, the Minstermen just avoided relegation from Division 3 for the next two years. However, thanks to the three up, three down method, York achieved promotion to Division 2 for the first time in 1974, after another 3rd place, but by 1977 they were back at the bottom rung. Further re-elections were secured in 1978 & ’81 as York struggled to maintain league status, though 1984 saw them again return to form with a Division 4 title, becoming the first Football League side to win with a three-figure total.
After notable results against 1st Division Arsenal (1-0) and European Cup holders Liverpool (1-1) during the early part of the ’80’s, York remained in Division 3 until 1988 when another relegation was suffered, but 1993 saw them back in the third tier, now Division 2, following play-off success against Crewe Alexandra. They also reached the Second Division play-offs the next season, but lost out in the semi-finals and in 1996 they knocked eventual Premiership & FA Cup winners Manchester United out of the League Cup.
1999 saw York drop out of the Second Division and finished bottom of Division 3 in 2004, meaning a drop into non-league for the first time in 75 years. Losing out in the 2007 play-off semi-finals, York lost out in the 2009 FA Trophy Final as they were vanquished by Stevenage Borough. 2010 saw more play-off heartbreak, this time in the final but 2012 saw success in both the above competitions, with York overcoming Newport County & Luton Town in the Trophy and play-offs respectively. Despite reaching the League 2 play-offs in 2014, their stay back in the league was short, however, with the club returning to the Conference last season.
The game got underway with Curzon slightly on top, but when they conceded a penalty in just the ninth minute, following Hakan Burton’s bringing down of Shaun Rooney, it looked as though York’s league advantage may be a bit too much. Richard Brodie fired home, sending Burton the wrong way much to Craig’s chagrin, having not been too fond of Brodie from his time at Crawley, I took from it! With Curzon chasing the game now, it could be said it opened their play and game-plan up.
Though York had a few forays forward, they always looked shaky at the back, with one of my Football Manager hopeless signings, Clovis Kamdjo, becoming my target as I told all around me about my dealings with his simulated-self and his red-card record. Gibbo, therefore, unleashed a Clover ad-style chant to Clovis, which I definitely took part in. Nothing against the real Clovis, really, just the terrible FM one I had the misfortune to encounter…
Curzon, though, continued to pressurise the back-line of the Minstermen and eventually they levelled when Niall Cummins collected the ball at the back-post following a low cross from Joe Guest and his shot hit ‘keeper Kyle Letheren and to my eyes went wide. That is until the cheers went up and the ball was clearly settled in the net, as Cummins wheeled away to celebrate his equaliser. 1-1. Game ON!!
Following a pair of decent chances that saw both shots fly off target for the visitors, the sides headed in for the half-time break, with the score-line remaining level. As for myself, it was to the food bar for a pie, though my superb memory has let me down here, as I can’t remember what I had. It may have been a chicken Balti, or it could have been a steak. Who knows? Anyway it was pretty decent, but for £3.10 it bloody well should have been.
The second half began with both sides trading chances, though neither troubled the respective sides’ goalkeepers. Curzon again went close, a fizzing drive flying just over the bar before York responded, again through Brodie, who blazed over from close range with the game winding down to its conclusion. Cummins forced Leveren into a decent stop, but York almost had one last chance when an attempted cross deflected up against the arm of a defender in the box but the referee, along with the Phil Mitchell-esque assistant (who loved all the chants by the way), turned down the claims much to the relief of the Nash support, who feared the worst. Full-Time, 1-1 and to a replay.
Following the game, I was invited along with the group heading back to Gibbo’s uni digs prior to the heading out and about for the night. My participation would be just for the early part of the evening, with my train ticket restricting. Anyway, the journey to the nearby Morrision’s (other supermarkets are available) was soundtracked by Craig’s Pied Piper-esque fluting skills, that is until the flute met its untimely end and ended up on a verge in multiple pieces and now added to the many ghosts of York. RIP.
Eventually, having passed through the shop and with beers for myself and both this and food for everyone else, we eventually headed back to the house where the very sensible games began. I won’t put names in here for those folk in jobs where this may be frowned upon! Soon enough, after Aaron had been given his birthday card for his 12th, having had it announced at the game earlier in the afternoon, I bid goodbye to the group and headed back through the streets, rocking up back at the station nicely in time for the train back.
Following the thankful departure of the Newcastle train, which had picked up a worse-for-wear group of women, including one who was on the floor for most of my time here, my train pulled in and whisked me back towards Piccadilly. Unfortunately, the delay made things interesting, with the train arriving in at 21.39. My connection was at 21.40, so a sprint up the stairs, over the footbridge and down the other set of steps got me to the train just as the guard was stepping back on to depart. Phew, and on that dramatic note, I’ll leave you to ponder the rant I’d have had if I’d been left for an hour…
Programme: 5 (cut price issue)
Value For Money: 5