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York City captain finds redemption in Football League promotion
SKIPPER Chris Smith says he feels he has repaid York City fans after leading the club back into the Football League.
The 30-year-old was a member of the team that was relegated to the Conference eight years ago and, now in his second stint at Bootham Crescent, he has found redemption.
“It’s unbelievable to be back in the League,” Smith said. “It feels like I have repaid some of the fans. I am not saying it was all my fault but I was part of that squad that got relegated.
“Now, back in the League, I feel the club is in a more stable position. It has got the go-ahead for the stadium and it is certainly a better team – no disrespect to the other one I was in.
“The manager has got better views and this is one of those things you hope you can achieve.
“When I first came back to the club that was my intention. Maybe last season was a little bit short time-wise, but this year we wanted to go up and that’s what we have done.”
Smith hailed his side’s character after falling behind to Andre Gray’s early goal and, while praising the defence in an increasingly tense second-half, made special mention of Lanre Oyebanjo and his two spectacular blocks as Craig McAllister and JP Kissock looked set to level.
Of Luton’s goal he said: “Two minutes and a goal down. It was the worst-case scenario.
“I just think it shows what sort of character we have got here and belief. We know if we get it down we will create chances.
“It was like it didn’t happen and that is the attitude we have. It was a good goal from them and it was roll on the next 88 minutes.”
On Oyebanjo, he continued: “The first one was an unbelievable header – he wasn’t even favourite to win that – but the second one I don’t know how he has managed to block it. It was different class.
“As a back five, we include the holding midfielder, we are so hard to break down.”
Having led York up the 107 Wembley steps in triumph a week earlier to lift the FA Trophy, Smith said he was determined to enjoy himself even more as he made the repeat trip.
He said: “I slowed it down a little bit up. Last week, I felt like I ran up the steps. I took it slow and it was unbelievable.
“It’s a dream come true for me but, for those 7,000 fans, it is for them as well. Everyone deserves it.”