FORMER York City striker Jon McCarthy may well have had a future as a clairvoyant.
Two years after he left Bootham Crescent in a £425,000 move to Port Vale, his new team were drawn against the Minstermen in the League Cup.
In the space of those two years York had toppled no less than Manchester United and Everton, so as McCarthy said with some perception ahead of the August 12 clash at Vale Park in 1997: “York City will probablty think we are an easier tie.”
And on the night in the Potteries, McCarthy was in a home Championship team that also included in goal Paul Musselwhite, currently City’s goalkeeping coach, and number two to Michael Ingham.
As McCarthy effectively predicted, City did indeed prevail over their so-called superior hosts beating the Valiants 2-1 thanks to goals from Gary Bull and Steve Bushell.
That ‘B’ route to goal was extended in the second leg at Bootham Crescent where Tony Barras was also on target for a 3-1 lead which was only trimmed to 3-2 in the dying minutes with an assist for Lee Mills by Martin Foyle, who later went on to become the manager of the Minstermen.
Musselwhite, left, said he did not recall the match at Vale Park, nor the return leg at Bootham Crescent, but there was a touch of irony when his request to know who played in goal for York City that night in mid-August was answered.
The City number one was Mark Samways prompting Musselwhite to say: “I can’t remember the match against York City in the League Cup either home or away – maybe that’s because we lost – but funnily enough, Mark Samways was the man who replaced me in goal at Scunthorpe when I left there to join Port Vale.”
The veteran City goalkeeping coach recalled far more imposing nights for the white-clad Valiants, who, around the same time as City were forging a Goliath-slaying path in the Coca-Cola Cup, had bagged a hefty belt of top-flight scalps of their own.
“We had our own knockout tradition. I can remember beating Southampton, Everton and Leeds United in the FA Cup, and drawing with Arsenal at Higbury before losing at Vale Park on penalties in a replay,” said Mussewhite.
Maybe though the last word should go to McCarthy, who always remained a terrace favourite among the City faithful even when he left to star for Port Vale and Birmingham City, as well as establishing himself as a Northern Ireland international winger.
He said: “Over the two legs they (City) deserved to win – no doubt about it.
“All credit to the way they denied us space to pass and move and lifted themselves yet again in this competition.
“They seem to have a tradition in it now.”
How IT WAS back then
City’s line-up: Samways, McMillan, Tutill, Barras, Hall, Campbell (Stephenson), Bushell, Tinkler, Pouton, Rowe (Tolson), Bull.
Top of the UK single-selling hit parade: I’ll Be Missing You – Puff Daddy featuring Faith Evans.