FORMER York City goalkeeper Chris Porter has challenged tomorrow’s Bootham Crescent crowd to be as boisterous as Bristol Rovers’ supporters were during the last meeting between the two teams.
Porter, then 24, was playing only his second match for the Minstermen back in March 2004 when Chris Brass’ struggling team travelled to meet the Pirates at their hostile Memorial Stadium.
An attendance of 6,723 acted as a 12th player on the afternoon, according to Porter, who was beaten with Rovers’ first two shots on goal from Danny Williams and Adam Barrett, after current City skipper Chris Smith had conceded a couple of free-kicks.
Ally Gibb then added a third early in the second half as Rovers celebrated their first victory in 11 matches.
The visitors, meanwhile, took their win-less run to 12 games – a sequence that would eventually stretch to 20 as the club tumbled out of the Football League.
Porter, having learned of the unrest among City fans during Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Plymouth, is now hoping the Bootham Crescent faithful can help to lift the team this weekend.
Currently on the books of re-formed foes Darlington 1883, who are now plying their trade in the Northern League after being booted out of the Blue Square Bet Premier last season, Porter also reminded any disgruntled supporters matters could be worse.
The former Sunderland trainee, who now combines his Darlington duties with a goalkeeper coaching role at Gateshead and his full-time job as a fireman, said: “That Bristol Rovers game was only my second game for the club and, on my debut the game before, we had drawn 0-0 with Torquay so I’d just kept a nice clean sheet at home and was looking forward to the next match but going to Bristol Rovers was like a baptism of fire. I remember Junior Agogo playing well for them and that there was a big crowd.
“The goalkeeper is close to the supporters down there and I’d just had a bit of a rascal’s haircut so I took more stick than I usually received. That can be nerve-wracking when you are inexperienced as I was then.
“We went a goal down early on and that side did not really have the ability to fight back. Our fans then started to get at us and nobody really wanted the ball.
“Fans are always entitled to their own opinions and York supporters have been through the mill in the past but maybe, after last season went so well, expectations are now higher.
“Anybody complaining, though, should remember where the club were last season and realise the opposition teams are a lot tougher and the players a lot better in League Two.
“I’d imagine it’s now the team needs the fans behind them rather than getting at them, especially at home.
“The crowd during that last Bristol Rovers game was like an extra player for them and there’s no reason why that can’t be the case at Bootham Crescent.”
Porter also believes the strong team spirit, relayed to him by Gateshead’s current on-loan Minsterman Lee Bullock, can prove crucial in reversing the club’s fortunes after a run of one win in nine matches.
He added: “Bully says there’s a good squad of players who stick together. They all do things outside of the club as a group and that’s quite rare in football. I think that type of camaraderie is massively important and it wasn’t ever really the case when I was at the club.”
How it was back then
York City team (v Bristol Rovers) on March 27, 2004: Porter, Wise, Smith, Hope, Wood, Cooper, Dunning, Merris, Bell (Newby), Nogan (Yalcin), Offiong (Coad).
Number one UK single on the day: Yeah (Usher).
It also happened on this day: HMS Scylla (F71), a decommissioned Leander class frigate, is sunk on an artificial reef off Cornwall, the first of its kind in Europe.