When City rocked the world

Two-goal Paul Barnes with a copy of the special edition of the Evening Press the day after the amazing 3-0 triumph at Old Trafford

Two-goal Paul Barnes with a copy of the special edition of the Evening Press the day after the amazing 3-0 triumph at Old Trafford

Published in News

INCREDIBLE then, but given the current stock of both clubs it is yet more mind-boggling now to register that ten years ago York City toppled Manchester United.

This day in 1995, the grand bold men of York journeyed across the Pennines accompanied by the sort of blind faith that is the exclusive sustenance of the football fan. No-one gave them a single, solitary, sniff of success.

But by the time of their return to York in the wee hours of an autumnal night, the Minstermen were the football globe's headline-hoggers.

They had travelled to the Red Devils' Old Trafford stronghold and left the Premiership titans flat on their mega-millionaire backs by valiant virtue of an astonishing 3-0 triumph in the first leg of the Coca-Cola Cup second round.

Before then, and since, I have had the pleasure of reporting on international tournaments as well as top-flight domestic championship climaxes and cup finals. Even when the latter involved my own team, Liverpool, the temptation to roar out loud and proud from the press-box was never seized. It's just not the done thing, old boy.

Some 53 minutes into the night that rocketed York City into the collective consciousness of a Sky Television-driven game, such professional circumspection and etiquette was abandoned.

As chronicler of the fortunes of the Minstermen there was no thwarting myself, nor my then Evening Press colleague Peter Smith. We just could not help ourselves as we punched the air in tandem with each other and in celebration with every other of the jumping, jiving, jack-in-the-box bouncing brigade of City fans.

Both Mr Smith and myself had sneered at outbursts from other York-based media when Paul Barnes had breached a star-studded United rearguard for the opener after 24 minutes.

When those yelps broke free again with Barnes' 51st-minute penalty to double the advantage we continued to contain all emotion, save for increasing disbelief. But when, two minutes on, Tony Barras' missile-header crashed into the United rigging it was yell for leather and to hell with it.

We might as well have been injected into the heart with pure, unadulterated adrenaline.

This was Old Trafford. This was a United team to go through the entire League season undefeated in their own back-yard as they amassed a Premiership and FA Cup double. This was an opposition whose ranks included Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Gary Pallister, Denis Irwin, Paul Parker, Brian McClair and Phil Neville. This was York City winning 3-0 at Old Trafford.

If truth be told, it could have been more. Never mind the charge that United did not have all their big guns on duty, City were also injury-hit. Just look at their midfield. Nigel Pepper was the sole experienced member of a quartet completed by rookies Darren Williams, Scott Jordan and Graeme Murty.

No, City were the worthiest of giant-killers, a fact acknowledged magnanimously by United boss Alex Ferguson. He had not been beknighted by then.

You could tell Fergie was hurting, however. And that was so evident as the supernovas of Peter Schmeichel, Steve Bruce, Paul Scholes, Andy Cole and a certain Monsieur E Cantona were paraded for the return a fortnight later at Bootham Crescent.

In spite of the glittering comebacks and their 3-1 win in York, United tumbled out beaten 4-3 on an aggregate score that kept the manager Alan Little's magnificent Minstermen smack middle in the spotlight's glare.

While the exit was confirmed on home territory, it was that energising, enthralling, entrancing eve of all eves that will burn so long in the memory.

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