FORMER York City favourite David McGurk expects his old youth-team coach Martin Gray to be a disciplinarian who will demand high standards at Bootham Crescent.

New City chief Gray was one of McGurk’s earliest mentors, overseeing the latter’s transition from teenage hopeful to first-team regular at their former club Darlington.

McGurk, now 35, went on to make more than 400 professional appearances including 333 for the Minstermen and admits that the principles instilled in him by Gray during those formative years remained relevant throughout his career.

Back in 2014, after leaving City, Gray tried to lure McGurk back to Darlington, but he had already agreed to join Harrogate and, offering his opinion on the manager who led his first club to three promotions in five seasons, the former two-time Press Player of the Year winner said: “He was my youth-team manager when I made my first-team debut 16 years ago.

“It was his first job in coaching and, straight away, the biggest thing for him was the standards he expected from everyone. He demanded effort and application on the training field and he will definitely be looking at fitness levels.

“Everybody has their own interpretation on fitness, but his expectations are right up there. He’s a real disciplinarian and makes sure people are living right, because he has high standards on and off the pitch.”

Having been on the Darlington fringes before moving to the Minstermen, McGurk also suggested that those players who find themselves out of Gray’s first XI will be expected to demonstrate the same work ethic as those in possession of starting shirts.

“He went into the first-team set-up as David Hogdson’s assistant and, sometimes he would have to train ten players who weren’t in the team on a Friday,” McGurk explained. “But you wouldn’t know they were out of the team the way he approached things.

“The training was just as intense and treated the same as if it was the first team preparing for a game.”

Gray was the man who told McGurk he was being promoted to the first-team squad, ahead of his senior debut in an FA Cup win at Kidderminster.

He came on at half-time and helped the Quakers keep a clean sheet in a 1-0 first-round win at Aggborough.

Adam Rundle was also nurtured and promoted from Gray’s youth team, before going on to play more than 350 pro games for the likes of Carlisle, Mansfield, Rochdale, Rotherham, Chesterfield, Morecambe and Gateshead, as was striker Mark Sheeran, who scored two goals in a 3-2 league win over Luton on his home debut.

On the role Gray played during his first steps into the senior side, McGurk added: “He pulled me up in training the Thursday before the game to let me know I would be on the bench and told me to just do what I had been doing in the youth team.

“He put that confidence in me and pushed me on and made me into a first-team player. He was on at me all the time and, when I came back to play for the youth or reserve team, he made sure my feet were on the ground.”

McGurk also admitted that he was shocked his former City chief Gary Mills’ second stint at the club did not work out better after witnessing the eerie end to the club’s one season stay in the National League last term.

“I was surprised the club went down with Gary being there and the calibre of players they had,” McGurk reasoned. “I thought he was the perfect appointment at the time and he certainly improved things throughout the season, but it wasn’t enough and I was gutted for the club, more than personnel.

“I went to the Forest Green game and I’ve not heard anything like that haunting silence at the final whistle when the club were relegated. You go to clubs now in the same division or higher and the fans are not as engrossed in the game.

“It doesn’t mean the same to their supporters and the York fans deserve better. The away following is always decent too and it’s a proper club that isn’t where it should be.”