FORMER York City goalkeeper Alan Fettis is pleased to hear that the club will be better prepared for tomorrow’s clash at far away Plymouth than they were more than a decade ago.
Fettis was a member of the City team that last played at Home Park on a Tuesday night in March 2002.
The Minstermen were beset by financial problems at the time and travelled to the game by coach on the day with the players deciding to dig into their own pockets for an overnight stay after the game rather than before it.
Terry Dolan’s team were unlucky to lose 1-0 to the eventual League Two champions Plymouth that night after a Graham Potter own goal, but the long journey appeared to takes its toll the following Saturday when City returned to the south-west to face Cheltenham and were thumped 4-0.
In contrast, Gary Mills’ players will travel to Devon today and stay in a hotel at no personal expense.
Fettis said: “I remember the game. We went down on the day, stayed overnight, then had what they’d call a bonding session these days afterwards before driving back the next morning and playing at Cheltenham on the Saturday.
“Plymouth’s a long way to travel in a day and it’s good when a manager is in a situation where he can do what he feels is best for the team. Travelling down the day before might not guarantee a result but it gives a team the best possible chance.
“Players deserve to be given the best preparation that a club can afford although it does not always work out. I’ve gone for overnight stays and still been beaten the next day but I’m really pleased the club are in better shape now.”
Potter decided that last meeting between the teams when he headed past Fettis from a Paul Wotton free-kick on the stroke of half-time.
Argyle’s David Worrell was sent off early in the second period for two bookable offences but, with Michael Proctor suspended and Peter Duffield injured, the visitors could not force the equaliser their performance merited.
“It was a decent match but Potts tried to clear a free-kick and the ball ended up in the other side of the goal,” Fettis recalled. “We then had a few chances but didn’t take them.”
“Terry Dolan was building a good little side, but then the financial problems came. Plymouth were a strong team as well under Paul Sturrock so it wasn’t the worst result in the world, but it’s disappointing when you go all that way and have to come back with nothing.
“Overall, though, I loved my times at York and those three years were probably the best of my career. If it had not been for the financial problems, I don’t think I’d ever have chosen to leave.”
Current City ’keeper Michael Ingham was brought in on loan by Dolan to replace Fettis after his departure for Hull.
Ingham later returned to Bootham Crescent in 2008 and, with the pair good friends from their days as Northern Ireland internationals, Fettis keeps track of the City shot-stopper’s fortunes.
“I’ve heard he’s been doing well and he’s been there a long time now,” Fettis added. “He’s told me when we’ve bumped into each other back home that he’s done so well the fans have forgotten about me now.
“I’m sure he’s got every chance of keeping a clean sheet at Plymouth. Well, Graham Potter isn’t playing, so that will help!”
Manchester United academy coach Fettis, now 41, also believes Ingham, almost a decade his junior, should not give up on returning to the international fold close to six years after winning his last cap.
“He’s getting on but others, like Roy Carroll who is older, have got back into the frame,” Fettis pointed out. “At the least, you would like to think he could be involved in one of the friendly games when some of the other guys withdraw from the squad or a ‘B’ international so people can have a look at him again.”
Next month, Fettis will complete two years working at Old Trafford where, along with Eric Steele and Jack Robinson, he puts all the club’s young goalkeepers from under-9s to U21s through their paces.
On his role, Fettis said: “I’m really enjoying it. It’s a wonderful club and there are worse places to work!”
YORK City have made 13 previous Football League visits to Home Park in the old Second, Third and Fourth Divisions, and have mustered two wins and five draws.
The two successes were 2-0 in 1973/74, with Jimmy Seal and an opponent on the scoresheet, and 2-1 in 1994/95, when Glenn Naylor and Paul Baker were on target.
Their heaviest defeat at Plymouth was 4-0 in 1971/72 and on the last visit, on March 5, 2002, they went down 1-0 with Graham Potter putting through his own goal.
At the time, Argyle were runaway Third Division (League Two) leaders with City fourth from bottom.
The line-up was: Fettis, Hocking, Parkin, Basham, Hobson (Wise), Potter, Brass, Richardson, Bullock, Nogan, Mathie.
Among the players who have appeared for both clubs are Charlie Twissell, Phil Burrows, Jim Hinch, Gordon Staniforth, Steve Cooper and Craig Skinner.
It happened on December 8
1934: A 1-0 home win over New Brighton in the second round of the FA Cup with Fred Speed the scorer in front of 6,039.
1956: City lost 2-1 at Hull City in the second round of the FA Cup. Arthur Bottom was the marksman and the attendance at Boothferry Park was 24,155.
1962: The smallest Bootham Crescent crowd of the season – 2,511 – saw City held to a 1-1 draw by Barrow with Peter Wragg the scorer.
1966: Tommy Spencer netted the goal in a 1-0 win over Morecambe in an FA Cup first round second replay which was staged at Maine Road in front of 4,283.
1979: A 2-2 draw at Aldershot in the Fourth Division with Kevin Randall and Barry Wellings the marksmen.
1984: John MacPhail and Keith Houchen were on target in a 2-0 second round FA Cup victory at Hartlepool United.
1998: City ended a run of nine Second Division (League One) games without a win when they defeated Lincoln City 2-1 at Bootham Crescent thanks to goals from Neil Tolson and an opponent. The attendance was 2,075.
2001: Third Division City beat Second Division Reading 2-0 at Bootham Crescent in front of 3,161. Scorers were Nick Richardson and Graham Potter and it was the second successive season that City had knocked the Berkshire club out of the FA Cup.
2007: A 2-1 win at Ebbsfleet United in the Blue Square Premier with striker Onome Sodje and winger Martyn Woolford on the scoresheet.
Compiled by Dave Batters