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New-look York City on the level with Chesterfield.
FORMER York City utility man Marc Thompson believes his old club should consider themselves as big an outfit as tomorrow’s visitors to Bootham Crescent Chesterfield.
Prior to City’s historic double-winning Wembley campaign last season, the Spireites had been operating at a higher level than the Minstermen for 11 years with Thompson having been sent off the last time the two teams met in January 2001.
Chesterfield, top of League Two at the time, came away from North Yorkshire with a 1-0 win back then, thanks to a second-half volley from Rob Edwards.
But Thompson recalls a close contest on the night and reckons York will be worthy competitors for every team they face this season on and off the pitch during their return to the Football League after an eight-year absence.
The Nestlé transport manager, who has witnessed Gary Mills’ team’s potential at close quarters in recent times having been on the receiving end of 8-0 and 5-0 pre-season thrashings while a Huntington Rovers and Tadcaster Albion player respectively, said: “I always thought York lacked ambition when I was there but you cannot question what the McGill family have done and the key now is keeping the manager and this group of players.
“York have proved they are every bit as big as your Chesterfields and Rotherhams by the number of fans they took to Wembley. They have the structure right at the club now and I think that as long as the team keeps playing football, the people of York will come to watch.
“It’s cheaper than going to watch Leeds United at Elland Road and the football’s probably better as well. I’ve played against them the last two years and I think the manager has got it spot on.
“They play football the right way. When I was there, Terry Dolan was manager and it was all about being physical and long balls and that’s not the way to play the game.”
In the last meeting between the two teams, a teenage Thompson received his first professional red card when he was penalised for a second bookable offence after a rash challenge on Marcus Ebdon.
He had earlier been unfortunate, however, to be cautioned following a 50-50 challenge on then Spireites favourite Luke Beckett.
City were also unlucky not to take at least a point from the match with David McNiven hitting the bar on a wet and windy night.
“I remember the tackle on Luke Beckett,” Thompson added.
“You cannot make strong challenges in football any more and that was all just starting back then.
“I also remember that it was an awful night, lashing it down with rain and that we should have beaten them.”
Thompson, now 30, was unaware that the man who ordered him off that night was an official that has since become familiar to football fans up and down the country – current Premier League whistle blower Chris Foy.
“I didn’t know it was him but I will take a bit more interest when I see him refereeing on the television next,” Thompson said.
Another participant in that game was also destined to later ply his trade in the top flight with future Wolves striker Chris Iwelumo, then on loan at Bootham Crescent, playing for the hosts.
On his later career, Thompson added: “Chris was a big friend of mine at the time and he’s a great lad. I went to stay with him in Stoke a few times but I wouldn’t have thought he’d go on to achieve what he has done in the game. I thought the same about Cressy (Richard Cresswell) though too.
“Looking back, we had a few good players. I think when Chris came to York, he was coming down to the bottom division from a big club like Stoke and he was only young so it was probably a bit of a culture shock for him.”
He now plays for fellow ex-City man Iain Dunn at Huntington on a Saturday and also for Severus on a Sunday morning.
How it was back then
City team v Chesterfield: Fettis, Jones, Alcide, Sertori, Stamp, Agnew, Turley, Potter (Jordan), Thompson, Iwelumo. Mathie (McNiven).
Number one single on the day: Rollin’ (Limp Bizkit).
It also happened on January 23, 2001: On the eve of Chinese New Year, five people set themselves on fire in Tiananmen Square.