NICK Pope is delighted his second loan spell with York City is unlikely to be cut short having seen his last stay terminated after just two games.
The 21-year-old goalkeeper, who wore the Minstermen’s gloves against Southend and Morecambe in November, was recalled by parent club Charlton prematurely following an injury to Addicks’ shot-stopper Ben Hamer.
Pope went on to act as second-choice Ben Alnwick’s understudy prior to Hamer regaining fitness and, with Valley boss Chris Powell having now recruited another net-minder in Yohann Thuram-Ulien – the cousin of French World Cup winner Lilian Thuram – from Standard Liege, he is not expected to be summoned back to south London again.
After agreeing to join the Minstermen on loan until the end of the season, Pope said: “I was a bit upset and disappointed to be recalled after just two games and I am looking forward to having another go at it here now.
“I sat on the bench for eight or nine league games at Charlton, which was quite a good experience in a way, but it’s not as good as playing games and I did not get a sniff really.
“There are a lot of people in front of me there now so a recall shouldn’t come into the equation.
“I can stay here, play my football and just concentrate on York City. That’s how I felt last time because Ben Hamer hadn’t been injured for two-and-a-half years but that’s Sod’s Law.
“There’s not a thought in my head now that I could go back to Charlton and I just want to pick up from where I left off here.”
Pope went straight into City’s team when he was preferred to fellow loanee Chris Kettings during his first stint at the club and he is in no mood to settle for a spot of bench-warming this time around.
On his battle with Michael Ingham for a starting role, Pope added: “I have come to push for a first-team place.
“Hopefully, I can play a lot of games before the end of the season, keep as many clean sheets as possible, get experience and help take the team further up the league. Michael was injured when I came here before so there wasn’t competition as such.
“But York is quite rare in that respect because, if you went to most clubs up and down the country, they would have two or three ’keepers fighting for a place so I am ready to do that now and, hopefully, take the shirt.”
When Pope left North Yorkshire in November, City were six games into an 11-match run without a win that would see the side end 2013 only above the Sky Bet League Two relegation zone on goal difference.
Three straight wins, however, have seen Nigel Worthington’s men rocket up to 14th place in 2014 and Pope, who played in a 2-1 defeat at Southend and a 0-0 draw at Morecambe, insists the change in fortunes has not surprised him.
“The team are on fire at the moment,” he said.
“Confidence is high and everyone is buzzing so, hopefully, we can keep the run going and not take our foot off the pedal.
“I always thought the team could go on a run like this and I could not really believe where the club were in the league when I came here before, because of the quality of our play and the amount of possession and shots on target we had in those two games. I thought we should have won both of them.
“Southend were fourth in the table when we played them and we could have won by two or three goals but they went and nicked a win, which was unfortunate.”
Despite other clubs rumoured to be interested in his loan services, Pope always had the Minstermen pencilled in as his first-choice destination if he was to be made available again during the transfer window, saying: “You hear clubs mentioned but I wanted to come back to York.
“It’s a club I am familiar with and the team are doing a lot better. I thought I could settle a lot easier here than anywhere else and I’m delighted to be back.”
On the challenge ahead for the team, Pope reasoned that the immediate aim must be to secure the club’s Football League status but he is not then ruling out a push for the division’s higher reaches.
“We have got to eliminate the threat of relegation as soon as possible and get ourselves up the league then, maybe with ten games to go around March time, see where we are and what we can do,” he explained.
Pope also has an open mind about the direction his career might take at the end of 2013/14, adding: “I have two-and-a-half years left on my contract at Charlton and, hopefully, they see my future lies there. If not, I will play football elsewhere if they want me to get experience at clubs like York.”
BRISTOL Rovers have made 20 previous Football League trips to Bootham Crescent in the second, third and fourth tiers, winning six times and drawing five.
City’s biggest success in the series was 4-0 in 1985/86 when Tony Canham (2), Marco Gabbiadini and Keith Walwyn were on the scoresheet.
The biggest attendance was 11,066 in March 1974 when City won a thrilling Division Three (League One) promotion encounter 2-1 thanks to goals from Chris Jones and a stoppage-time penalty netted by Ian Holmes.
The Pirates’ biggest wins here were 5-1 in 1965/66 and 4-0 in 1987/88 and their last victory at York in the League was 1-0 in 1997/98.
City won the coresponding game last term 4-1 with Ashley Chambers (2) and Jason Walker on target along with an own goal from Garry Kenneth.
The line-up on December 15, 2012, was: Ingham, Parslow, C Smith, Doig (Allan), Fyfield, Kerr, Potts, McLaughlin (J Smith), Blair, Walker, Chambers (Rodman).
Making his senior debut was Tom Allan with Jonathan Smith making his final appearance.
Players who have represented both clubs include 1930s stalwarts Maurice Dando, Ted Hathway, Bill Routledge and Jack Eyres along with Peter Aitken, Scott Jones and Chris Beardsley.
It happened on January 18
1936: City crashed to a 7-2 defeat at Accrington Stanley in Division Three North. Fred Speed and Peter Spooner were the scorers.
1964: A run of seven successive defeats ended when Newport County were beaten 3-0 at Bootham Crescent in Division Four (League Two) in front of 2,114. On the scoresheet were Gerry Baker (2) and Jim Goldie.
1975: Chris Jones (2) and Jimmy Seal netted as City won 3-2 at Norwich City in Division Two (Championship) watched by 23,382 at Carrow Road to complete a League double over the Canaries.
1992: Tony Barratt scored both goals as City beat Carlisle United 2-0 at Bootham Crescent in the Fourth Division (League Two). The crowd was 1,953.
2011: City lost 5-0 at Luton Town in the Blue Square Premier and had Michael Ingham and Jonathan Smith sent off.
Compiled by David Batters